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News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

DOJ v. FOP

Jan 13, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Shortly after the Justice Department and Baltimore City officials announced they’d reached a legal contract to reform the city police department Thursday the police union complained they were left out of the negotiations.

But Friday a DOJ spokesperson contradicted those claims.

Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's State House reporter, discuss the sharply partisan exchanges between Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday a series of measures aimed at assisting crime victims and their families.

One of the proposals would allow prosecutors of sex crimes to use as evidence a suspect’s previous sexual assault convictions.

Baltimore, Feds agree to consent decree

Jan 12, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the full consent decree below.

Baltimore City and federal officials announced Thursday an agreement that will force the Baltimore Police Department to reform. The decree comes six months after a scathing Justice Department report found that city police routinely violated citizens’ rights; especially of African-Americans.

The consent decree is the product of a civil rights investigation into the police department after the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered severe injuries while being transported in a police van.

Details of the consent decree were made public as a news conference was taking place announcing the agreement.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland General Assembly kicked off the 2017 session at noon Wednesday. But while speaking with WEAA’s Marc Steiner just a few hours earlier at an event hosted by The Daily Record, Senate President Mike Miller offered a prediction on a topic expected to be controversial during the session: whether legislators will ban hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas extraction method better known as fracking.

Baltimore County

Maryland’s General Assembly returns to Annapolis Wednesday, and Baltimore County lawmakers are arriving with a wish list.

Any legislator you talk to will tell you numero uno for Baltimore County in this session is money for schools. Same goes for County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. He plans to have all county schools air conditioned in a couple of years and wants more state money to help with that.

Rachel Baye

A group of 59 local and state elected officials, including 21 members of the General Assembly, have signed a letter urging Gov. Larry Hogan and state legislators to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

P. Kenneth Burns

Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore City’s police union, planned to respond to comments made recently by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis about staffing issues in the department and contract negotiations.

But the union tweeted Sunday evening that the news conference scheduled for Monday will be postponed “due to unforseen (sic) circumstances.”  And that it will be rescheduled.

Fraser Smith and John Lee, of the WYPR reporting team, talk about the upcoming review of Baltimore County's charter and what that could mean for county residents.

Searching for ghost pots in the Chesapeake

Jan 6, 2017
Pamela D'Angelo

Every year, Chesapeake Bay watermen toss about 600,000 pots overboard to catch one of our favorite delicacies – the blue crab. But inevitably, some of those crab pots disappear. They become "ghost pots," killing millions of crabs and other marine species trapped inside.

It’s estimated there are about 145,000 ghost pots bay-wide. Some 58,000 are lost in Maryland and 87,000 in Virginia. Laid end to end, they'd stretch 53 miles. That’s from Havre de Grace to Tilghman Island in Maryland or from the mouth of the Potomac River to the mouth of the Bay in Virginia.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers are gearing up for a fight over a bill requiring the state to generate more electricity from renewable sources.

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, of the Baltimore Sun's editorial board, talk about how Gov. Larry Hogan reacts to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

A new report from the state attorney general’s office found roughly 3,700 untested sexual assault evidence kits dating back as far as 1981. The Baltimore City Police has the second-highest number of untested kits of any law enforcement agency in the state, with 871 through 2016.

The report released Tuesday recommends several changes to how police handle the evidence collected from sexual assault victims statewide.

P. Kenneth Burns

A man whose murder conviction was recently vacated after his story was at the center of a popular podcast will remain jailed while he awaits a new trial.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch on Wednesday denied Adnan Syed's request to be released from jail primarily because there is a pending appeal from the prosecutor's office.

The Southwest Partnership's seven neighborhoods sail into the New Year on a tide of careful planning, the involvement of a major state  hospital and a cadre of hyper active neighbors working together.

Graziano turns in “very nice” resignation

Dec 20, 2016

Long-time Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano is leaving after 16 years on the job.

Graziano submitted his resignation to Mayor Catherine Pugh; who accepted it Tuesday.  The mayor said it was a “very nice letter.”

Graziano’s last day as housing commissioner will be January 6.  He will receive $116, 524; the amount of unused vacation and personal days.  Pugh said Deputy Commissioner Michael Braverman will be interim housing commissioner as she conducts a nationwide search to replace him.

John Lee

They may not be as obvious as their counterparts in the city, but there are hundreds of homeless people in Baltimore County. Some may be in shelters, but many of them are out of sight, camping in the woods.

On a Monday morning, Wade Pratt and Charlene Gaskins were getting ready to head out to visit one of those camps. Pratt opened the trunk of his car that was chock full of coats, sweatpants, toiletries, granola bars, water, hats and scarves.

"I really wish we’d gotten a van," he said.

Rachel Baye

A few dozen members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees labor union’s Maryland chapter protested Thursday outside Government House, where Gov. Larry Hogan lives. The group was calling attention to problems with the state’s new payroll system that it says has shortchanged several hundred corrections workers.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A state panel voted Thursday to restrict when and how the Department of Juvenile Services shackles children in its custody while transporting them to and from detention centers. The recommendations will result in changes to department policy and, in some cases, state law.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan plans to introduce legislation repealing a transportation law passed by the General Assembly last spring, he announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Fraser Smith and Kenneth Burns, of the WYPR news team, talk about the Christmas wish list newly inaugurated Mayor Catherine Pugh delivered to President-elect Donald Trump when he was in town for the Army-Navy game.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers voted Tuesday to approve a $20 million incentive for aerospace and defense giant Northrop Grumman. The money is intended to motivate the company to keep 10,000 jobs in Maryland and spend $100 million on new office space in Linthicum.

Mikulski.Senate.gov

Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski bade farewell to the U.S. Senate recently, concluding 45 years in elective office and projecting the next phase of her life.

"You know when people vote for you, it’s not only that they’re sending you to Washington or City Hall," she said. “They’re giving you a vote of confidence that you will be their voice, that you will be their vote, that you will be at their side and on their side.”

Undocumented immigrants face uncertainty

Dec 12, 2016
Jonna McKone

President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign to get tough on immigration.

Among other things, his campaign website promised to build an “impenetrable physical wall” on our southern border and he has promised to terminate President Obama’s program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.

And that has raised anxiety levels in immigrant communities throughout the country as well as in Baltimore. “It’s very scary right now in our community,” said Nathaly Uribe Robledo, who entered the United States illegally as a child in 1997. “A lot of people are very afraid.  They are not sure what’s going happen.” 

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly reconvenes in Annapolis in just more than a month, and one of the biggest issues facing members will be filling the state budget’s roughly $400 million deficit. On Friday, legislative leaders and a representative from the governor’s office made some predictions about what’s to come at the Maryland Association of Counties conference on the Eastern Shore.

Fraser Smith and John Lee, of the WYPR news team, talk about Congressman Andy Harris' threat to withhold federal money from Baltimore County because of Executive Kevin Kamenetz's immigration stance.

Joel McCord

A recent study from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program has confirmed that the water quality in the nation’s largest estuary is improving, thanks to a pollution diet for states in the Bay’s watershed.

But there’s one part of one state—the five counties of South Central Pennsylvania—that lags behind in reaching its pollution reduction goals, mostly because of fertilizer that runs off farm fields into Bay tributaries.

Young calls for partners to address city problems

Dec 8, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore 72nd City Council took office Thursday with more than half of its members newly elected.

Council President Jack Young said that the members will focus on reducing crime, reducing the number of vacant properties and increase affordable housing.  And, he said, he wants to partner with the private sector to accomplish those tasks.

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.

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