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News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Protecting female crabs

Jun 23, 2017
Pamela D'Angelo

Although surveys conducted last winter showed the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population has held steady, fisheries managers are suggesting new restrictions because they’re concerned about a drop-off in the number of young female crabs.

PUGHFORMAYOR.COM

Baltimore City schools officials failed to report a $100 million pension liability to the city government in fiscal year 2015, according to the city auditor.

Auditor Robert McCarty told the Board of Estimates about the missing information Wednesday morning.

"In their report they did not include their liability to the city's employee retirement system [ERS] of $100 million," McCarty said after the meeting. "In their opinion, it was a liability of the city of Baltimore to the ERS."

The Baltimore City Council has approved a resolution upholding the Paris Climate Accord -- an agreement President Trump backed the US out of earlier this month. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi shares the details with Nathan Sterner.

Baltimore Link debuts

Jun 20, 2017
John Lee

There was a lot of talk about numbers and colors at Baltimore’s bus stops Monday morning as the city’s newly revamped system of bus routes got its first test.

Dubbed BaltmoreLink, the system went into effect in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, but it wasn’t until the Monday morning rush that planners and riders got the first real sense of it. And Alice McClellan, who uses a cane, was not happy.

John Lee

Baltimore’s newly revamped system of bus routes got its first real test during the Monday morning rush.

And while it’s designed to be quicker and more efficient and to get commuter closer to their jobs, it didn’t go all that well for Rodney Bennett, who was making his way from his home in North Baltimore to work in Cherry Hill.

His first bus was 10 minutes late.

Planned Parenthood

Look at the schedule of virtually every professional and collegiate team in the country and you’re sure to find dates where the club aligns itself with a popular cause or constituency. There are Girl and Boy Scout Days, canned food and blood donation drives and salutes to the military, all the types of events that everyone can get behind.

What most teams avoid like the plague are instances where the club could be in cahoots with something controversial. And teams certainly stay away from involvement with anything that could be seen as political. In that vein, July 18 could be a very interesting date on the American sports calendar.

That’s the day that the Seattle Storm of the WNBA have a scheduled “Stand With Planned Parenthood” rally at their home arena.

John Lee

Baltimore County has counted heads and found more than 600 people homeless within its borders. But the actual number of people living in shelters and on the streets in the county is likely much higher.

The county recently released the findings from a one-day homeless census it conducted on January 24 when it found 609 homeless people countywide.

But county officials caution this is merely a snapshot on a given day that provides a rough estimate. And those who work with the homeless say it is a low ball number.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Hundreds of Baltimore youth showed up at a recent city council budget hearing to plead for more money for after-school and community school programs.

One city councilman called it a "rare moment of unity and strength."

Rachel Baye

Sixty-four-year old Johnnie Davis has been treating his heroin addiction at the Bon Secours New Hope Treatment Center in West Baltimore for nearly 20 years.

“When I came here, I didn’t have no insurance,” he said. “And if I wasn’t here, I could imagine where my life would have turned because I was known for drugs — selling drugs.”

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Plans for a 157-unit apartment building in Roland Park has split community residents. And it came to a head yesterday as the city council gave preliminary approval to a bill to allow the project at Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

As the vote was taken opponents of the project, wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "Don't OVERLOOK Us,"  stood up and disrupted the meeting. Jack Young, city council president, banged his gavel, telling the residents they were out of order and they left.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The long simmering battle over the redesign of a bike track on Potomac Street in Canton was thrown into limbo Friday when a circuit court judge temporarily halted city plans to demolish the lane.

Still, bicyclists who took to city streets and parks over the weekend as part of the 15th annual Tour Dem Parks event remained angry and worried about the fate of bicycle lanes in the city.

They even greeted Mayor Catherine Pugh with a smattering of boos and some chanting when she made an appearance.

Keith Allison/flickr

If you’re an Orioles fan and you’re looking for a piece of good news from this past weekend, some ray of sunshine from three otherwise lousy days and nights in New York, it may be this: The Birds won’t have to go back to Yankee Stadium until the middle of September. That’s pretty much where the optimism begins and ends from three days of horrors in the Bronx.

Simply put, the Orioles were mugged in New York. They’re certainly not the first tourists to be mistreated in the Boogie Down, but this was ridiculous.

Rachel Baye

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates all of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s $73 million and reduces or eliminates several other funds used to clean up the Bay and its watershed.

On Thursday, leaders from the six states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed — who together form the Chesapeake Executive Council — signed a resolution calling on Trump and Congress to replace that money in the budget and urging federal agencies to remain active participants in Bay restoration efforts.

Succeeding the speaker?

Jun 7, 2017

Joel McCord and Bryan Sears, of the Daily Record, ponder potential successors for ailing Mike Busch as speaker of the House of Delegates.

CASA de Maryland

Jesus Peraza, the Honduran who was picked up by immigration agents after he dropped off his son at Hampstead Hill Academy last March, will be forced to leave the country. 

The notice came Tuesday in a letter to Jared Jaskot, Peraza's lawyer, from John Alderman, the deputy field director in Baltimore for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Alderman wrote that he could “not find a compelling reason” to allow Peraza, who has been in the U.S. for more than a decade, to stay.  

The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously Monday night to make deep cuts to Mayor Catherine Pugh's budget plan for the coming fiscal year. 

Jamyla Krempel

Baltimore City high school graduates are on track to receive more college scholarships this year than any other year, according to Rudy Ruiz, the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness of Baltimore City Public Schools.

Ruiz says 1600 scholarships have been offered to Baltimore city high school seniors – that’s more than any other year on the books.

dcJohn/flickr

This was supposed to be the week where Serena Williams was going to take the next step towards removing Margaret Court from the record books.

Williams needs one more win at a major tennis tournament to match Court, who won 24 Grand Slam tournaments during her 17-year career.

The clay surface at the French Open, the site of this week’s tournament, hasn’t always been kind to Williams, but, as the world’s No.1 ranked player, she would have had a decent chance to tie Court.

That is, until Williams revealed her pregnancy a few weeks ago, which took her out of the French Open as well as Wimbledon and probably the U.S. Open for this year.

But, by the time Williams returns next year, Court may find herself irrelevant for reasons that have nothing to do with the Grand Slam record.

Trump budget eliminates oyster restoration funds

Jun 5, 2017
Pamela D'Angelo

 

In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. That began a federal-state partnership to restore and protect it, including a plan to revive the wild oyster population through sanctuaries on restored reefs in Maryland and Virginia.

But the budget President Trump sent to Congress eliminates funding for that plan. And that has complicated even further an already complicated effort to restore the reefs gutted by a century of overfishing, disease and pollution. 

photo courtesy baltimorecityschools.org

Baltimore City school officials sent layoff notices to 37 teachers, 39 administrators, 26 paraprofessionals and school personnel, 11 support staff, and five district managers Thursday. It was the first round of layoffs in city schools in a decade.

Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, denounced the layoffs, wondering why they were necessary when school leaders have said they need to fill 200 vacancies.

Rachel Baye

Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous has formally announced his plans to run for governor next year.

The 44-year-old Democrat and California native made the announcement Wednesday morning at a rally outside his cousin’s West Baltimore flower shop. His 24-minute speech highlighted his ties to Baltimore and a family legacy of civil rights activism, including his mother’s efforts to desegregate Western High School as a young teen.

Frank Deford on WYPR

May 31, 2017
Garrison Forest School

The public radio world and sports fans are mourning the loss of former NPR commentator Frank Deford. He died on May 28 at his home in Key West, Florida. He was 78. 

Deford was born in Baltimore and often spoke of his roots in Charm City. Then Maryland Morning host Tom Hall spoke with Deford in May 2012 when he had just published his eighteenth book Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriterin which he looked back over his long career. 

You can listen to that interview below. 


The politics of sick leave

May 31, 2017

News Director Joel McCord and Rachel Baye, WYPR's state government reporter, discuss the political implications of Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the General Assembly's paid sick leave bill.

Daniel X. O'Neil/flickr

The debate over one man’s responsibility to another is as old as mankind itself, dating all the way back to Earth’s first sibling rivalry, between Cain and Abel.

In more recent years, that discussion has stretched to sports, where no less a figure than Charles Barkley has declared that he, and by extension other athletes, are not role models.

But can it really be that facile? Can an athlete with national or global visibility simply play their game without pondering the consequence of how they play on others, especially kids?

Mark Dennis, Staff Photographer / Mayor's Office of Communications

With the Baltimore City Police Department under a consent decree to overhaul its operations, Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, and Mayor Catherine Pugh cut the ribbon on the new Baltimore City Police Museum today.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed on Friday legislation removing questions about criminal history from applications for admission to public colleges.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Hogan expressed alarm that the bill “tips the scales to the detriment of public safety.”

“We should not encourage schools to turn a blind eye to a prospective student’s potentially violent criminal background,” he wrote.

But those fears are misguided, said Caryn York, who fought for the measure as the director of policy and strategic partnerships at the Baltimore-based advocacy group Job Opportunities Task Force.


Rachel Baye

Advocates have pushed state lawmakers for five years to pass a bill requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave. Earlier this year, they finally passed it. But Thursday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill and urged lawmakers to develop a new, compromise bill.

In response to the arrest of Jesus Peraza, the Honduran father who was detained after dropping his 8-year-old son off at school, CASA, a Latino community organizing group, held a rally Thursday in front of immigration offices at Hopkins Plaza in downtown Baltimore.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The simple task of dropping off or picking up a child at school became fraught with worry for parents at Hampstead Hill Academy in March when the father of a fourth grader was followed home and arrested by immigration agents. Now, parents, students and teachers at the school at Linwood and Eastern avenues have united behind their Latino parents and students.

"You never know when it is going to happen to you. So you live in fear and you live afraid," said David Rosario, father of a third-grader, in an interview at his office just blocks from the school.

Myron Rolle Twitter

It’s graduation season and, after suffering through mostly meaningless and interminable speeches exhorting them to do good in the world, millions of young people are being turned loose on the nation presumably to do just that.

One of those graduates, Myron Rolle, has heard this speech a few times, and has apparently taken heed of those exhortations.

Rolle joined the ranks of prospective doctors over the weekend and will begin doing his residency at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston next month.

But while the addition of yet another doctor is nothing unusual, Rolle’s path to a stethoscope is quite extraordinary.

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