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News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Mileah Krohmer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Goucher College joins Fraser to look at the most recent summer polls in Maryland.

John Lee

Grove Miller is a retired Cecil County farmer. Much has changed since Miller started farming.

“I started farming with horses,” Miller says. “The first tractor I bought was a John Deere H, which now, most lawn mowers have more horse power than that tractor I bought.”

Something else has changed. These days, farmers in Maryland think they are getting a bad rap and it goes something like this.  Even though agriculture is the number one commercial industry in the state, you don’t hear much about farmers. And when you do, it usually has something to do with polluting the bay.

Tom Chalkley

    

WYPR's senior news analyst says it's about time somebody--in this case the Baltimore Health Commissioner--came up with a plan to improve the health of Baltimore's citizens.

Hot schools a hot issue in Dundalk and Essex

Sep 1, 2016
John Lee

On a particularly hot day this week, Heather Garner and Drew Lee were hashing out whether to send their son, James, a fourth grader at Bear Creek Elementary, to school.

Lee checked a weather app to get the forecast, and found that the expected high temperature for the day was 92 degrees. And even though the un-air-conditioned classrooms would be sweltering, Bear Creek, in Dundalk, would be open.

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.

Governor's Office via YouTube

As expected, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order today, requiring all Maryland public schools to open after Labor Day, beginning next year. But opponents questioned its legality, and the governor’s motives.

In making his announcement on the boardwalk at Ocean City, the governor said it will help the state’s economy, because families will be able to extend their summer vacations.

    

Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears, of the Daily Record, talk about the politics of Governor Larry Hogan's plans to fulfill a long-standing desire of Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Under Armour is going “downa Point”

Aug 30, 2016
Tradepoint Atlantic

Under Armour is the latest company with plans to set up shop on the property that once was home to Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore County. The company announced plans Tuesday that it says eventually will bring about one thousand jobs to Sparrows Point. 

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.

    

News Director Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, of the WYPR reporting team, take on the latest chapter in the feud between Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly over transportation funding.

Tom Moore

Saturday marks the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn. Local history lovers call this Battle Week. A few days before and after the actual date of this Revolutionary War battle, August 27th, 1776, they get together to mark the event, with re-enactments, talks, exhibits, neighborhood walks, lots of waving of old flags, music and more.

One event features colonial cocktails and another invites families to join in for lots of trivia and games including a “Brooklyn vs. Britain” scavenger hunt.

But what few of them seem know is that a group of Maryland Continental Army soldiers, known as the Maryland 400, played a key role in the fight.

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.

John Lee

It was a picture perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, as Loch Raven High School Principal Bonnie Lambert greeted students as they entered the building, wishing them a "happy new year" on the first day of school after the summer break.

Karen Salmon, Maryland’s State Superintendent of Schools, said what’s great about education is that they get to start over every year.

"And we get to do it right," she said "So it’s really just the best." 

Fraser Smith

    

A short stretch of South Arlington Avenue could go a long way toward promoting togetherness and a higher quality of life in the neighborhoods of the Southwest Partnership. The proposed South Arlington Avenue Greenway would pull the seven neighborhoods together. At the same time it would introduce visitors to area attractions – the popular Mobtown Ballroom, the Edgar Allan Poe House and the B&O Railroad Museum. 

Arash Azizzada

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced a new legislative agenda last week, following the release of a U.S. Department of Justice report chronicling a system of discrimination in the Baltimore Police Department. Changing police recruitment practices was on the list.

“We will mandate and oversee the recruitment of officers by the Baltimore Police Department and require Baltimore residents, particularly African Americans and women, to be recruited and hired to fill the more than 3,000 officer positions comprising the agency,” state Del. Jill Carter, a Democrat who represents northwest Baltimore, said at the Black Caucus’ press conference.

But even before the report’s release, the Baltimore Police had begun building efforts to recruit from communities that haven’t historically attracted many applicants.

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.

    

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, editorial page editor of the Baltimore Sun, take up former Mayor/Governor Martin O'Malley's defense of "broken windows" policing that was so sharply criticized in the recent Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police department.

The Department of Justice’s 163 page report describes officers and sergeants acting as if they had a blank check to do whatever they wanted in the inner city neighborhoods; using unreasonable force against people who represented little or no threat, making warrantless arrests without probable cause, conducting illegal strip searches, sometimes in public.

Soon the DOJ, the city, the police department, and community leaders will get to work on the court-ordered mandatory consent decree that’s should be finalized November 1.

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.

Scholars sing to start the day at Play On Purpose's Summer Camp
Jonna McKone

Every parent faces challenges finding constructive opportunities for their children in the summer while school’s out. But that process can be even more difficult for parents who can’t afford day camps.  

On a hot, August morning, about 75 kids play, sing and chat in the cafeteria of ConneXions, a public charter school in the Mondawmin neighborhood of West Baltimore. Play on Purpose (POP) runs a free summer program here that includes curriculum through the Freedom School, a program of the Children’s Defense Fund. Freedom Schools teach culturally relevant reading and local African American history at over 12,000 sites around the nation to, in part, stem the tide of summer learning loss.

Rachel Baye

Representatives of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced Friday a set of policy proposals in response to the scathing Justice Department report on discriminatory practices by the Baltimore Police Department.

Among the legislators’ proposals are hiring practices that bring in more African American and women city residents, protections for police whistle-blowers and opportunities for civilians to review police actions.

Down in the polls

Aug 12, 2016

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.

Minimum support for new minimum wage

Aug 10, 2016

    

A proposal to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour squeaked past a preliminary vote Monday. But will it have enough votes for final passage? Fraser Smith and Kenneth Burns, of the WYPR reporting team, assess the chances.

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.

Rising tides make life difficult for scientists

Aug 9, 2016
Pamela D'Angelo

  Chesapeake Bay shorelines are gradually disappearing as sea level rises and higher high tides eat away at beaches and fragile, sandy cliffs. And while that causes anxiety for some waterfront property-owners, it also creates a dilemma for archeologists and paleontologists.

They’re gradually losing important sites and artifacts to the water.

Tom Chalkley

WYPR's senior news analyst suggests there's something other than the continuing controversy over Donald Trump's insensitive comments about a Gold Star family that could undo his run for the White House.

Jonna McKone

The standard picture of a debate team looks something like this: white students in jackets and rep ties from schools like Dartmouth and Princeton. But that’s changing, especially in Baltimore, which has developed a reputation for producing some of the most accomplished high school and college debaters in the country.

Take rising 10th grader at Baltimore City College, Nicolas Broaddus, who stands in front of the  judges at the Eddie Conway Liberation Institute’s debate competition. Clad in a dashiki he’s talking about things that "...constitute the domestic aspect of the US transnational network of secret prisons and black sites..."

Zoe Mitchell

Last May, a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and was picked up by Harambe, a rare, endangered silverback gorilla. Out of fear for the boy’s life, zoo officials made the tough call to kill Harambe.

The next morning, Don Hutchinson, CEO and president of The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, sent his staff out to double-check their own security measures to make sure animals and visitors are protected.

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