Midday | WYPR


Courtesy of Rodney Foxworth

Philanthropic institutions are overwhelmingly white. Less than 4 percent of foundation CEOs are African-American, for instance, and the numbers for executive staff are similar. My guests today say that, despite good intentions, foundations lack moral urgency in addressing the problems that plague poor black communities. Social entrepreneur and philanthropy consultant Rodney Foxworth recently wrote an essay on the subject on Medium.com, titled “The Need for Black Rage in Philanthropy.” Are foundations too complacent, too comfortable, too willing to take things slow when it comes to inequality? Is rage the missing ingredient? Rodney Foxworth and Erika Seth Davies from the Association for Black Foundation Executives join us.

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“What’d ya say?” “Speak up, stop mumbling!” “Would you repeat that?” Sound familiar? Maybe it’s someone you care about; maybe … it’s you. About 30 million Americans have enough trouble hearing it interferes with communication, and it’s much more common as we age. It’s not a minor frustration – hearing loss is linked to health problems like falling, to depression, anxiety and onset of dementia. Yet only a fraction of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids wear them. In this hour we’ll talk to a noted hearing researcher at Johns Hopkins about the impact of hearing loss, what keeps people from getting help with their hearing … and new developments on the horizon that might change that. Our guest: Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins Medicine. His clinical practice is dedicated to the medical and surgical management of hearing problems, and his research focuses on the intersection of hearing loss, gerontology and public health.

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Water main breaks. Sewer overflows. Flooded basements. Baltimore’s water infrastructure is often in the headlines. But some listeners may find the most recent news from the Department of Public Works particularly unwelcome: water and sewer rates are set to go up, pending Board of Estimates approval. Baltimore City residents would see a 33 percent water rate increase over the next three years, plus two new fees. But there will no longer be minimum billing for water usage, so water charges for some users may actually decrease. Surrounding counties that use city water will also see changes to their bills. Jeffrey Raymond, Chief of Communications and Community Affairs for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, answers your questions.

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In a few hours, the Baltimore City Council is to vote on whether or not to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. The city currently follows the state minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. The proposal says small businesses--with fewer than 25 employees or less than a half a million dollars in gross annual income-- would not have to pay the higher minimum. Proponents say raising the basement wage is crucial to attacking poverty, in a city where one out of four residents is below the poverty line. They cite data showing the proposal would boost the incomes of more than one-fourth of workers in the city. Business advocates argue the proposal would backfire, killing jobs by pushing some businesses to move out of the city. Our guests: Ricarra Jones, political organizer with SEIU 1199, and Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. 

The Baltimore Police Department disproportionately stops, searches, and arrests African Americans in violation of federal law and the US Constitution. This is one of the conclusions of a scathing US Department of Justice investigation into how the city’s police force operates. The Justice Department found evidence of intentional discrimination against black residents, including orders by supervising officers to target African Americans for stops and arrests, and a failure by the department to investigate complaints alleging racial bias by officers. Baltimore now begins the hard work of drafting a court-enforceable framework of reforms. We hear reaction from a law professor and a local pastor, and from you. 

P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

A damning report by the Department of Justice reveals a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing in Baltimore: illegal stops and arrests, excessive force and public strip searches, the targeting of predominantly African-American neighborhoods. The report reached a conclusion already experienced by many Baltimore residents -- that the Baltimore Police Department’s methods have broken the public’s trust. What’s next? Baltimore must draft a court-enforceable consent decree detailing reforms…reforms expected to cost the city millions of dollars. Can the Baltimore Police Department rebuild its relationship with the community? Is the city willing to devote time and resources to remedying years of discrimination and excessive force? Our guests: Kwame Rose, activist and and producer with The Real News Network; and Lieutenant Roy Alston, a patrol watch commander with the Dallas Police Department who has worked on past investigations with the US Department of Justice; former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.

Did you know that dinosaurs didn’t actually go extinct? One group is still with us: they’re called birds. Were you aware that most dinosaurs had feathers? Does it surprise you to hear that Tyrannosaurus Rex is closer to us in time than it was to Stegosaurus? Dinosaurs are as popular as ever, particularly among children. But the picture the general public has of them hasn’t kept pace with the science. Today University of Maryland dinosaur paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr. joins us to talk discoveries, dispel myths and tell us how we know what we know about one of the most successful groups of animals to ever walk the earth. Original air date: May 11, 2016.

Drug shortages don’t sound like the kind of thing that could happen in the United States. Yet shortages of drugs ranging from cancer treatment to painkillers have become commonplace. The FDA even has a mobile app for shortages, aimed at healthcare professionals. When the supply of a medication runs dry, doctors scramble to find alternatives. They are often less familiar with the substitute drug. It may be less effective. It may have side effects. And in some cases, there simply is no substitute. That means physicians increasingly face an agonizing ethical decision: which patients should receive drugs and which should not? We discuss how physicians are coping with the crisis in our nation’s drug supply. Original air date: May 24, 2016.

Our guests: Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office for Clinical Practical Innovation at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

When entrepreneurs in Elizabethan England looked to the New World, they saw America as a land of waste land that was not productive -- but could be the place to offload the poor, idle, diseased and the children of beggars, all seen as human waste. That’s how historian Nancy Isenberg begins her history of class in America -- generation after generation of underclass viewed by society and government as disposable. In her book “White Trash,” Isenberg argues that far from the class-less society Americans claim, the United States always has enforced a class structure and disdained those at the bottom. We’ll ask Isenberg whether her focus on class ignores the bigotry of race … and how the ideas of “White Trash” show up in politics today.

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Universal pre-kindergarten. That’s the notion that preschool, especially the year just before kindergarten, should be free for everyone. It’s an idea with broad bipartisan support, and champions at the highest levels of government. Many cities and states already have begun to move towards universal pre-k. Advocates say good programs can help low-income kids catch up with their peers, and that making pre-k universal benefits everyone. But the question of whether pre-k makes a difference in the long run is sharply debated. What does the evidence suggest pre-K can do for children? Is making it universal the best way to help disadvantaged kids? The pros and cons of universal pre-k.