Tuesday Elections, Rezoning and Panhandling in Baltimore, and Stormwater Fees In Anne Arundel
Information about today's elections in Maryland. Plus: a delayed vote on a bill cracking down on panhandling in Baltimore, a look at rezoning in the city, stormwater fees in Anne Arundel, and more.
Election Day: Today is Election Day in communities around the country… including several in Maryland. Voters in the state’s second largest city, Frederick, will cast ballots in races for Mayor and the city’s Board of Aldermen. And in the state capital, Annapolis, voters will pick a Mayor and decide four contested races for city council. Elections also take place in the city of Takoma Park – where officials are expecting hundreds of 16 and 17 year olds to cast ballots. The Washington Post notes that back in May, the Montgomery County community became the first in the nation to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. The polls in all Maryland jurisdictions where voting is taking place opened at 7am; they’ll stay open until 8 tonight. Frederick residents: find your polling place here. Annapolitans: your polling place is listed here. There’s more on Frederick’s election here from the Frederick News Post and more on Annapolis’s election here from the Capital Gazette.
Vote On Baltimore Panhandling Bill Delayed: In Baltimore last night, hecklers disrupted a city council meeting before a planned vote on a bill to crack down on panhandling – they chanted “homes, not handcuffs.” But the vote never took place, as Councilwoman Rikki Spector – the bill's sponsor – asked for a delay. She said an amendment suggested by the Downtown Partnership wasn't ready, telling WYPR’s Kenneth Burns: “It actually instead of the way the bill came out of committee is an improvement on the amendment that deals with public dining.” The amendment would ban panhandling from within 10 feet of outdoor dining. The ban would also extend to pedestrian bridges and stairwell entrances, and forbid panhandling in traffic. A preliminary vote is now set to take place on November 18. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Rethinking and Rewriting Plans for the Future: Public hearings on Baltimore City’s rezoning plan will wrap up this month. Officials say they’re looking to foster a more transit- and pedestrian-friendly city, as opposed to the car-oriented one that the current code supports. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns has more.
City Council Looks To Get Independent Lawyer: The City Council is looking to get legal advice from an independent lawyer. Yesterday, the council gave preliminary approval to a proposal that would let it turn to council other than City Solicitor George Nilson. The Baltimore Sun notes that Nilson reports to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – and some city council members think he doesn’t give the council’s views the same weight as the Mayor’s in making legal decisions. The charter amendment bill sets pay and would prevent the Council's lawyer from doing outside work. If the proposal gets final approval – and is signed by the Mayor – voters would have to approve it in next year’s election for it to go into effect.
Curran O’Malley Nominated To Baltimore Animal Abuse Panel: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had tapped Baltimore District Court Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley to sit on the city's animal abuse panel. O'Malley is also Maryland's first lady; if her nomination is approved by the City Council, she’ll be one of 15 appointed members of the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission. The Baltimore Sun notes that It's the job of the commission to raise awareness of animal abuse and the need to report the crime.
MD To Get Funds From National Settlement: Maryland is collecting more than $20-million from medical giant Johnson and Johnson following a national lawsuit settlement. The suit alleged that the company's subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals unlawfully marketed sales of two of their anti-psychotic drugs for unapproved uses. The national settlement has the company paying over a billion-dollars to the federal government and states that participated in the suit. State Attorney General Doug Gansler says the marketing fraud put patients at risk and ripped off taxpayers. There’s more here from the Baltimore News Journal.
Stormwater Fee Break For AA Nonprofits: Nonprofits in Anne Arundel County are getting a break on stormwater fees. The County Council voted four to three yesterday to reduce the fee to one dollar. Glen Burnie Republican John Grasso objected, saying discounts and exemptions make it "harder on everyone else that has to pay the bill." The Baltimore Sun reports that, later this month, the Council will have a public hearing on the idea of charging every Anne Arundel property owner just a dollar.
Baltimore Police Supervisor Reassigned: A Baltimore police supervisor linked to a pair of controversial incidents is being reassigned by the department. Lieutenant Parker Elliott as in charge of the police unit where suspect Tyrone West died in custody, and where an apparent police pursuit resulted in a death. Police officials tell the Baltimore Sun that the transfer of Elliott from an operations unit to patrol does not signify that he did anything wrong, and he has not been otherwise disciplined because of either case. Nine officers were suspended after an investigation into West's death.