Tue March 25, 2014
Winter Weather, Baltimore City Council Notes, Chronic Absenteeism, & Swearing In OC
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect, with 2 to 4 inches of snow expected today. More on the storm, plus notes from last night’s Baltimore City Council meeting, a report on chronic absenteeism in city schools, pay raises for state lawmakers, and profanity in Ocean City. And more…
Snow In Springtime: A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until midnight for most of the WYPR listening area. Most of the region will likely see 2 to 4 inches of snow accumulation before the storm is over tonight, with higher accumulations possible in higher elevations and in the western portions of the listening area. The National Weather Service's latest snow accumulation prediction map is here.
Baltimore County School Board To Decide Mays Chapel Redistricting: One of the biggest controversies so far this year in Baltimore County is supposed to get settled tonight. The county school board is expected to choose between two redistricting plans for the new Mays Chapel Elementary School, located about five miles northwest of Timonium. WYPR’s John Lee reports.
One School’s Battle With Chronic Absenteeism: Last week, the interim CEO of the Baltimore City school system warned 61 principals that they could face disciplinary action if they don’t reduce high absenteeism rates in their schools. In this installment of our series “Empty Desks: The Effects of Chronic Absenteeism,” WYPR's Gwendolyn Glenn has the first of two reports that look at schools with high and low chronic absenteeism rates.
Clarke Calls For More Information About Absenteeism: Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke is urging city schools to reconsider the plan to discipline principals who lead schools with significant attendance problems. Yesterday, Councilwoman Clarke introduced a resolution requesting more information about the school system's attendance issues, as well as the rationale behind the plan that’s pressuring 61 principals to improve attendance in the last few months of the school year. The Baltimore Sun reports that Clark's resolution calls on the school board to launch a large-scale multimedia outreach campaign on attendance, similar to awareness programs used for smoke detectors and mechanical sweepers.
Automatic Pay Raises For MD Lawmakers: Maryland lawmakers are up for a 16% pay increase over the next four years, unless they do something to stop it before the General Assembly session ends. Legislators currently earn $43,500 a year, the raise would increase that amount to more than $50-thousand a year. For the salary hike to take place, lawmakers don’t have to do anything; the change is essentially automatic, following recommendations by an independent salary commission authorized by the state constitution. The Annapolis Capital reports that Republicans are objecting to the raises, noting that state lawmakers are essentially part-time employees. And GOP lawmakers have sponsored resolutions that would reject the raises. Meantime, the fight continues over legislation that would raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Ruppersberger To Introduce Bill On NSA Data Collection: 2nd District Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger plans to introduce a measure today that would end bulk data collection by the National Security Agency. As the Baltimore Sun notes, Ruppersberger is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee; he’s worked with that committee’s Republican chairman to draft legislation that would require the government to use on records kept by private telecommunications companies; that information is currently gathered by the NSA. Under the measure, the government could direct companies to turn over records after gaining court approval. If the court disapproved, it could order the government to purge the information it had received. The measure would require the full approval of the House and Senate before it could become law.
Ban The Box: The Baltimore City Council last night delayed a final vote on a bill that would prevent employers from asking about the criminal backgrounds of most potential employees until after job interviews are conducted. This is the so-called “Ban the Box” bill, sponsored by Councilman Nick Mosby. Mosby says the delay comes amid concerns from business groups, who say the measure could hurt the business climate in the city. Councilman Mosby says he’ll take those groups’ suggestions into consideration as he amends the bill. The final vote on the ‘Ban the Box’ bill is now scheduled for April 7. WYPR’s P. Kenneth Burns has more.
Ban The Smoking: The Baltimore City Council last night voted unanimously to ban smoking within 50 feet of city playgrounds, school yards, athletic fields and public swimming pools. WYPR’s P. Kenneth Burns has more, and there’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Speed Camera Investigation: The Baltimore City Council last night voted unanimously to give permanent subpoena power to the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, which is investigating what went wrong with the city’s speed and red light camera program. WYPR’s P. Kenneth Burns has more.
Council Wants Money Back: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has sent a bill to the City Council that would use money from the city’s general fund to pay back $3.7-million to the federal government as the result of an audit of HUD’s homeless prevention program. At the same time, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark and Council President “Jack” Young introduced a resolution calling for a hearing on the audit’s findings. And Young is calling for the city to recover some of the money from the organizations involved in administering the grant. WYPR’s P. Kenneth Burns has more.
Maryland Day: Annapolis City Government offices are closed today… because it’s MARYLAND DAY, a holiday set aside to mark the anniversary of European colonists’ arrival in 1634. More on Maryland Day here from the Baltimore Sun.
“No Profanity, Please” In Ocean City: Recent studies show that Marylanders use profanity more than people in most other states. Now, folks who use Maryland’s beaches are going to be urged to keep their language clean. The Ocean City Town has approved putting up signs that say “No Profanity, Please” on every block of the resort town’s boardwalk. But the Daily Times notes that foul-mouthed-folks won’t face fines if they drop the f-bomb – since the First Amendment right to free speech prevents the town from actually outlawing profanity in public places.