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Baltimore

John Lee

The inauguration and the parties are over.  And now Baltimore’s new mayor gets down to the business of running the city.

Mayor Catherine Pugh will attend Wednesday her first meeting of the Board of Estimates. This is the spending panel that a mayor can control through two of her appointees; the public works director and the city solicitor.  Each has one vote.

Pugh sent a clear signal that she will be very hands on.

Pugh begins her dream job; mayor of Baltimore

Dec 6, 2016
John Lee

Catherine Elizabeth Pugh became the 50th mayor of Baltimore Tuesday before a standing room only crowd at the War Memorial Building.

Her inauguration attracted not only a who’s who of Baltimore politicians and officials, but a who’s who of state leaders as well; Democrat and Republican.  That included Republican Governor Larry Hogan who said he is optimistic about Mayor’s Pugh’s leadership.

“I have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to address the problems facing Baltimore and to revitalize this great city,” he said.

City ID proposal draws outside criticism

Nov 30, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore City Council is expected to approve a municipal ID program at its next meeting Monday.

The cards are aimed at helping residents who may not have other forms of identification gain access to city buildings and city services.

The idea is an outgrowth of one Councilman Brandon Scott had when he was on the staff for then-City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The big shift in the Baltimore City Council

Nov 17, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

In less than a month, the Baltimore City Council will undergo its biggest change since 2003 when it went from multi-member districts to single member districts.

The transition to Pugh begins

Nov 9, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Catherine Pugh began outlining plans for her administration at a news conference Wednesday morning, her first as Baltimore’s mayor-elect.

For starters, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will stay, but longtime city Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano will be out.  And she wants to end the city-state partnership that has run the schools since the late 90s.

Pugh staves off Dixon and others

Nov 9, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

State Senator Catherine Pugh has staved off a late effort from former Mayor Sheila Dixon to become the mayor-elect of Baltimore City.  Pugh also defeated Republican Alan Walden and the Green Party’s Joshua Harris in the process.

Veteran Homelessness

Nov 8, 2016

Despite a White House initiative, and major reductions in cities across the nation, veteran homelessness is still a problem in Baltimore. Wes looks at what we might learn from Riverside, California, a city that effectively eliminated veteran homelessness two years ago – and is well on its way to reaching “net zero” homelessness overall. 

Guests on this episode include:

Rachel Baye

This post was updated at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 4.

Early voting ended Thursday, and record numbers of Maryland residents cast ballots before Election Day this year. Here is a look at the numbers:

NTSB joins City investigation into bus crash

Nov 2, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A team of federal investigators joined Baltimore Police Tuesday in investigating a tragic bus crash in Southwest Baltimore where six died at the scene.

Jennifer Morrison, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said they will be in Baltimore for the rest of the week investigating the crash “with the goal of ultimately determining the cause of the crash and issuing safety recommendations.”

Why the 1st District council race is a real contest

Oct 27, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Republicans believe they can achieve something for the first time since the 1940s; elect a member of their party to the Baltimore City Council.

It started when Republican Larry Hogan took the city’s first councilmanic district on the way to Government House (the governor’s residence) two years ago.  The GOP began thinking they might be able to break the Democrats’ stranglehold on City Hall.

Dixon disses election results - again

Oct 25, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon insists she’s not a sore loser. But during an appearance on WYPR’s Midday Tuesday, she repeated her charge that questions still linger about the integrity of the results of the primary election she lost in April.

The open seat at City Hall

Oct 20, 2016
Pugh and Harris: P. Kenneth Burns/Walden: Walden For Mayor campaign

For the first time since 1999, the seat for Baltimore Mayor is open because Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake isn’t seeking a second elected term in office.

On November 8, city residents will have a choice between Democrat Catherine Pugh, Republican Alan Walden and the Green Party’s Joshua Harris.

For nearly half a century, the general election has been a mere formality for the Democratic candidate running to lead Charm City.  That was evident when Rawlings-Blake commented on the race in September.

P. Kenneth Burns

In case you missed it, the Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency.  It has been that way since the 19th century and it might affect the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice for sweeping police reforms.

Sheila’s back, but can she win?

Oct 11, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced she will try to get her job back as a write in candidate for the general election.

Dixon filed the paperwork Tuesday before a news conference.  She acknowledged her newly revived campaign is going to be challenging.

“I know this is a uphill battle.  But I know that in the next four weeks, were gonna educate people in the ‘ABC’s’ of what it means to write-in a candidate,” she said.

She also added that her campaign is going to be “organic” and “grassroots.”

P. Kenneth Burns

Those who live in Baltimore’s suburbs have at least two options for cable television and high speed internet; Comcast and Verizon.  But for city residents, Comcast is the only game in town for cable television.  And they’re pretty much the only option for extremely fast internet as well.

Jason Hardebeck, Baltimore’s broadband coordinator, says it all “comes down to infrastructure.”

SRB says Mosby didn’t do her job

Sep 28, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake charged Wednesday that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby caved in to political pressure in the Freddie Gray case and failed to do a thorough investigation before charging six police officers.

“You can't bow to political pressure and charge when you're not ready,” the mayor said. “You got to stand up, be in the big role and say to the people if you need time to investigate."

Rachel Baye

On sunny days, you might have to look a little harder to find evidence of sewage overflows on the Jones Falls Trail. But it’s there.

No surprise: Port Covington TIF passes

Sep 19, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

As expected, the Baltimore City Council passed Monday the largest tax financing package for a development in city history.

The 12-1-2 vote – for each bill - came after months of controversy over the size of the tax package and requirements for jobs, wages and housing.  The three-bill package creates the Port Covington development and taxing districts and authorizes $660 million in tax bonds to finance infrastructure work at the site.

The bonds would be repaid with property tax revenue generated by the profit.

Councilmen Bill Henry and Mary Pat Clarke abstained from voting on the package.  Councilman Warren Branch voted against the bills.

Plans for Confederate monuments formalized

Sep 14, 2016

A Baltimore mayoral commission released Wednesday formalized recommendations to remove two city-owned Confederate monuments.

The commission studied four monuments in particular; the Lee Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell, the Roger B. Taney Monument at Mt. Vernon Place, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mt. Royal Avenue near Mosher Street and the Confederate Women’s of Maryland Monument at Bishop Square Park.

In January, it recommended removing the monuments to Taney, author of the Dred Scott decision, and Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and keeping the other two.

The report also explained the history behind each monument.

Final vote for Port Covington TIF set

Sep 12, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a tax financing package for the proposed Port Covington development project.  The package is expected to pass a final vote at the council’s next meeting Sept. 19.

But Monday’s vote didn’t come before some members said they were concerned about how one of the bills – authorizing $660 million in tax bonds – was moved out of committee and to the full council.

Port Covington bond bill petitioned to full city council

Sep 12, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore City Council will get a look Monday at all three bills that are part of the largest tax financing package for a development project in city history.  That’s because Councilman Eric Costello led efforts to wrest the bill authorizing bonds for the Port Covington project out of its committee.

Port Covington tax financing hits snag

Sep 8, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A Baltimore City Council committee voted Thursday night to send two bills to the full city council as part of a tax financing package for the Port Covington project.

The first bill designates the development district while the other creates the tax district for the South Baltimore project. The vote on the third bill to authorize $660 million in tax bonds did not take place.

That’s because Councilman Carl Stokes, the committee chair, wanted to give interested parties time for further review. He ended the meeting without calling for a vote on the bond measure.

Up go the water rates in Baltimore

Aug 31, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore Board of Estimates approved Wednesday a multi-year increase in city water and sewer rates.  The board took the action after a nearly three hour public hearing in which everyone who testified opposed the increase.

The vote was 3-2.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake along with her appointees; Public Works Director Rudy Chow and Interim City Solicitor David Ralph, voted for the increase.  City Council President Jack Young and Comptroller Joan Pratt opposed it.

The mayor said the city’s water infrastructure has been “languishing for decades;” that the “can has been kicked down the road” and it needs to be modernized.

FOP warned police about problems four years ago

Aug 26, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A report issued four years ago by the Baltimore police union expressed the same concerns about zero-tolerance enforcement and training issues as the caustic Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department two weeks ago.

In fact, the federal report cited several times a “Blueprint for Improved Policing” published by the city Fraternal Order of Police in 2012.

The chief spokesman for Baltimore police insists that a trial program in which a manned plane with cameras flies over the city and feeds information to law enforcement was not a secret.

Aaron Webb / Flickr / Creative Commons

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is pledging at least $1 million in grants to help groups that serve victims of sexual assault in Baltimore after the Justice Department found the police department's responses to sexual assault "grossly inadequate."

The Republican governor said Thursday that the money represents immediate action to improve services to victims.

City minimum wage bill delayed...possibly dead

Aug 15, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore City Council sent a bill raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour back to committee Monday. And it looks like it may not come back out before the next city council takes office in December. 

Aaron Webb / Flickr / Creative Commons

Authorities say 12 people have been arrested while protesting a police conference in Baltimore.

Dozens of protesters gathered Sunday outside a hotel, where the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police is holding its biennial conference this week.

Mayor: DOJ findings “challenging” to hear

Aug 10, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Editor's note: The full DOJ report is posted at the bottom of this story.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she was committed to implementing police reforms after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department.

The mayor said “the findings are challenging to hear” but that her administration did not wait around for the Justice Department to issue its 163-page report.

“The city has taken first steps in a long path to reform and we’ve begun to see real benefits,” she said.

P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore City is one step closer to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.  But it’s not clear if there will be enough votes next week to make it final.  City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s proposal squeaked by in a preliminary vote Monday.

But that vote, 7-4 with three abstentions, was one short of the number needed for final passage.

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