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The debts attached to nearly five thousand homes in Baltimore are up for tax sale next month as the city moves to recoup unpaid fees, taxes and water charges. While overdue water bills can no longer be only item that sets a property up for a tax sale, they do count toward the overall debt.

Margaret Henn of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland says that’s a problem because of leaks and billing disputes with the Department of Public Works.

The Pro Bono Resource Center's last free legal clinic runs from 2 to 6 pm tomorrow, at the Zeta Center for Healthy and Active Aging on Reisterstown Road. You can register by phone at 443-703-3052. More info here.

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballot here in Maryland.

Tom's guest is Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. He is one of nine Democrats running for Governor on the ballot this June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election in November.

Unlike several of his Democratic opponents, Sen. Madaleno is not a political outsider. He has represented Montgomery County in the MD Legislature for more than 15 years -- first in the House of Delegates and, since 2007, in the State Senate. Since 2015, he has been Vice-Chair of the powerful Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He is the first openly gay person elected to the MD House of Delegates and the State Senate. If elected, he would be the first openly gay governor of any state in America.

His running mate is Luwanda W. Jenkins, a Baltimore native and business executive who served in the administrations of Maryland’s last three Democratic governors -- O’Malley, Glendening & Schaefer. 

Sen. Madaleno also took your questions, emails and tweets.  Like all of Midday's Conversations with the Candidates, this program was streamed live on the WYPR FB page. Check out the video here.

Take a listen to this Stoop story from teacher and poet Azya Maxton about the power of poetry. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

How can writing and reading poetry be a lifeline in times of trouble?

Ahead of a visit this weekend to Baltimore, poet and professor Gregory Orr tells us how he came to poetry after the tragic death of his younger brother in a hunting accident. He shares how poetry rescued him from overwhelming guilt and grief, and helped him regain an awareness of life’s beauty.

Gregory Orr will be at the Joshua Ringel Memorial Reading on Sunday, April 22 at Hodson Hall on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus. The event is starts at 5 pm. More information here.

Photo Courtesy www.brittneycooper.com

Tom speaks with Dr. Brittney Cooper about her latest book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower; a trenchantly argued and provocative look at the status, expectations, and barriers that Black women face in contemporary American society.  

Dr. Brittney Cooper is a professor of women and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, and a columnist for Cosmopolitan  Magazine.

Photo by David D. Mitchell

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a production lighting up one the region's many stages. Today, it's Hoodoo Love, a bluesy play (and one of the earliest works) by Katori Hall, being produced by Baltimore's Arena Players, the oldest continuously operating African American community theater in the United States.

Arena Players calls Hoodoo Love "a tale of love, magic , jealousy and secrets in...1930s Mississippi and Memphis. It is a blues story about having your dreams realized."  Reviewing its premiere in New York's West Village in October 2007, New York Times theater critic Stuart Miller described the play as "an unsentimental, even brutal look at black life in Memphis in the 1930s, the central female characters burdened by rape and betrayal."

One of Hoodoo Love's central female characters is Toulou, a young woman who fled an abusive family and the cotton fields of Mississippi to pursue her dream of becoming a blues singer.

“I love my people’s history,” playwright Katori Hall told the Times back in 2007.  Hall, who studied African-American culture and creative writing at Columbia University, added, “I feel a huge responsibility to tell the stories of my past and my ancestors’ past.”

Director David D. Mitchell leads the Arena Players cast, which features IO Browne (Toulou), Theresa Terry (Candylady), Quinton Randall (Ace of Spades) and Quincy Vicks (Jib).

Hoodoo Love is at Arena Playhouse, 801 McCulloh St., Baltimore MD 21201, through Sunday, April 29.   Tix and info here.

Amazon

She’s known as the ‘First Lady of Song’ and the ‘Queen of Jazz.’ Ella Jane Fitzgerald overcame poverty, abuse and racism to build an international career that spanned seven decades and a charitable foundation in her name. We talk with Geoffrey Mark, performer and author of ‘Ella: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald,’ who walks us through the story behind the music. To purchase tickets for Mr. Mark's performance at Germano's Piattini Cabaret at 6pm on April 25, Ella's 101st birthday, visit this link.

photo courtesy Jay Heinrichs

Tom's guest for the hour today is Jay Heinrichsan author, lecturer, and consultant in the art (and science) of rhetoric.  In a new book, he points out that while the word “debate” comes from the same latin word for “battle,” an argument is not a fight.  In a fight, you try to win.  In an argument, you try to win over.

Who are the best at persuading other individuals, even crowds, to their points of view?  Heinrichs says it's people who have mastered the art of listening, and who have developed the skill that every great comedian has: timing.  Our body language, our tone of voice, and knowing what not to say in many circumstances all contribute to our capacity to change people’s willingness to do something, which is, when all is said and done, the point of a persuasive argument. 

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

Behavioral Health System Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department have announced plans to open the city’s first Stabilization Center, with $3.6 million in funds from the State Legislature. 

Cuts by the Trump Administration to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative threatens the  progress made locally and nationally in reducing the number of unwanted teen pregnancies.  We speak with Healthy Teen Network President, Pat Paluzzi, DrPH, about the impact these cuts will have on her clients. 

Finally, senior citizens in Baltimore fall more often than seniors elsewhere.  Roughly 5,000 visits to emergency rooms last year were because of people taking a tumble.  What can be done to keep older folks on their feet?

Dr. Wen answers our questions for the hour, and takes your calls, emails and tweets about your public health concerns.

Cover art courtesy Apollo Press

Today, a conversation about the power of history.

The struggle for civil rights that we’ve remembered in the life and death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  and other leaders of the movement a half-century ago is a struggle that continues today.  But how much do we really know about what happened in Montgomery and Selma and Memphis back in the 1950s and 60s, and about how to connect Dr. King’s work with today’s Black Lives Matter movement? 

We don’t know enough, says Baltimore author and youth advocate Kevin Shird, who joins Midday senior producer and guest host Rob Sivak  this hour to talk about his new book, The Colored Waiting Room:  Empowering the Original and the New Civil Rights Movementsthe author's effort to make America’s civil rights history come alive in the context of today’s fraught racial landscape.

Mr. Shird gained a new appreciation for the power of history after he struck up a friendship two years ago with 84 year-old Nelson Malden of Montgomery, Alabama.  Malden is an African American who’d been an eyewitness to the historic civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s that played out in Montgomery and elsewhere, and who was, for more than six years, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s barber.

Mr. Shird found in Nelson Malden a willing mentor and history guide, someone who could satisfy his yearning to know more about the American civil rights struggle than what he’d learned in school.

In his new book, Kevin Shird describes his friendship with Nelson Malden, and the pilgrimages he made to the American South and to Malden’s Montgomery home.  It's a personal narrative that tells the story of the civil rights struggle through Nelson Malden’s shared experience, and draws lessons from it for today’s new movement for racial justice.

Associated Press photo

Regular Midday listeners know that every couple of Mondays, we check  in with The Afro-American Newspaper, the venerable news operation just down the road from WYPR.  Today, The Afro’s  managing editor, Kamau High, joins guest host Rob Sivak to spotlight some of the stories the paper is covering this week. 

Those stories include the second of a two-part series by Morgan State U. professor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist E.R. Shipp, looking at The Black Press and the Baltimore '68 Riots

Another retrospective on that troubled time, and on something good that came out of it, is J. K. Schmid's exclusive feature for The Afro on the city's legendary "Goon Squad," an organization of a dozen-plus ministers, professors, and even a judge, that campaigned for Baltimore causes for decades. Some of the few surviving members share their memories  with Schmid, and we're reminded that they launched a food bank during the riots that eventually morphed into the Maryland Food Bank. Goon Squad members were also involved in the creation of Baltimorians United for Leadership Development, or BUILD, still one of the city's most important centers of community activism. The Afro's Baltimore Editor Sean Yoes also reports on the Civilian Review Board's conclusion that Kevin Davis, Jr. was wrongfully arrested on a murder charge by Baltimore police back in 2015. The CRB is urging disciplinary action against the arresting officers.

Others stories spotlighted in the current issue of The Afro:  the road ahead for the newly elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Darryl Barnes; and how the Maryland General Assembly's busy final days led to new opportunities for minority licenses to grow and market medical marijuana.

Flyer for the Course/Jessica Marie Johnson

‘Knowledge is Power’ is a familiar adage. In our digital age, perhaps a more relevant aphorism and one exemplified by our guests today is ‘Knowledge is Access.’ Case in point: access to the syllabus for ‘Black Womanhood,’ a graduate course at Johns Hopkins University, has been made available online ... and has spread like wildfire. The course is co-taught by Professor Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, and Professor of History, at Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Professor Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Center for Africana Studies and Department of History at Hopkins. They discuss why access to knowledge can be so powerful and how online engagement affects curriculum.

You can access the Black Womanhood course syllabus here.

therealtonyforeman/instagram

Ever wonder how to get the dinner you make at home tasting and looking as good as it does in your favorite restaurant? Tony and Chef Cindy talk about the equipment, products and techniques the pros use and how you can get similar results in your kitchen. And as we dive into Spring, Tony gives a quick update on some Rosé essentials.

Photo Courtesy Jim Shea for Maryland

On this latest installment of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, Tom's guest is Jim Shea, a Democrat who's running to be his party's nominee for Maryland Governor.  Shea is one of nine Democrats who'll be on the gubernatorial ballot for the June 26th primary.  The winner will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan in the November general election.  

Shea announced his candidacy last summer, and has chosen Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his Lt. Governor running mate.  

Mr. Shea is 65 years old.  He grew up in Towson and he currently lives in Owings Mills.  He is a father of four children and the grandfather of two.  He has been married to his wife Barbara for 39 years.

At the Strong City Baltimore Stoop Storytelling show two months ago, Sophia Garber shared her experience about coming to Baltimore, making friends, and sticking with it against all odds.

Check out the Stoop podcast and info about Stoop events here.

Baltimore Department of Planning

The nonprofit Strong City Baltimore is offering dozens of workshops tomorrow, where hundreds of activists can network and learn skills for a better community. Rev. Eric Lee is the primary organizer of the 11th annual Neighborhood Institute. He tells us about the opportunities for community organizers to build their skills.

Plus, some panels draw on the experience of young leaders. We hear from Mercedes Thompson and Claire Wayner, who co-founded the “Baltimore Beyond Plastics” movement.

Baltimore Department of Planning

Baltimore is pockmarked by thousands of abandoned homes and empty lots. What effect do vacant properties have on health? What can the city do to transform blight into inviting outdoor spaces?

Former state secretary of health, Joshua Sharfstein, points to research that measures how blight raises stress levels.

And Stephanie Smith, Assistant Director for Equity, Engagement, and Communications for the city Planning Department, describes a plan to turn vacant properties into parks, playgrounds, and trails.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

Today, a look at what was accomplished by our legislators in Annapolis during the 2018 MD General Assembly, which ended on Monday night.

Governor Hogan has signed more than a hundred bills into law since then, and he’s let several become law without his signature.  More than 3,100 bills were introduced this year, a record number. 

Tom talks with two Republicans and two Democrats this afternoon to get their impressions of what the Governor has said is the most productive session of his tenure. 

Two of our guests represent Baltimore City.  Two represent Baltimore and Harford Counties. 

Photo by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and that means we welcome to the studio Midday's far-ranging theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, back from our western frontier and an evening at Frederick's Maryland Ensemble Theater, which is currently staging a new production of playwright Gina Gionfriddo's feminist comedy, Rapture, Blister, Burn -- a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

MET's program describes it as "an intensely smart, immensely funny play that asks the question, 'What makes us happy in life?' After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs."

Playwright Gionfriddo, in her program notes for Playwrights Horizons' 2012 world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn in New York, wrote, "I don't want to say too much about what happens in this play, but age and generation loom large. My play, Becky Shaw, feels to me a play about years 30-35; it's still possible to launch a career or start a family, but you need to hurry up. Rapture, Blister, Burn feels like a play about years 40-45. Big, unfulfilled dreams are still possible, but they're statistically less likely. If you're going to take a big leap and remake yourself, you have to do it now."

The production at MET is directed by Suzanne Beale, and the cast includes Gené Fouché, Carol Randolph, Madeline Reinhold, Laura Stark, and Ron Ward.

Rapture, Blister, Burn continues at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through April 29.

Photo by Geoffrey Wahl, Christopher Dravis - NCI-Salk Institute

Today, a conversation about new breakthroughs in cancer research.  Nearly 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S every year, and nearly 600,000 of those people die from the disease.  Those who survive often face difficult surgeries, and long rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or costly immunotherapy.    

Cancer is one of the world’s leading killers because it’s usually discovered too late, after tumors have grown and spread to other parts of the body.  If detected early enough, most cancers would be survivable.  But until recently, there have been no reliable early-screening methods for the most aggressive forms of cancer. 

Now, a team of physicians at Johns Hopkins has devised a new kind of blood test that can screen for 8 different kinds of cancer.  Taken together, those eight cancers account for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the United States each year. 

That team is led by one of Tom's guests today, Dr. Bert Vogelstein.   He is the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at The Johns Hopkins Medical School and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center here in Baltimore.  He’s a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics.  His research papers have reportedly been cited more often than those of any other scientist, in any discipline.

And joining us on the line from the studios of Kaiser Health News in Washington is Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal.  She’s a former emergency room physician. She spent 22 years covering health issues for the New York Times.  She was appointed the editor and chief of Kaiser Health News in 2016.  She’s also the author of American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, which was published exactly one year ago today.  (Dr. Rosenthal spoke with Tom Hall about her book and the issues it explores on the Aug. 9, 2017 Midday. She  was interviewed earlier in the year by Terri Gross on WHYY's Fresh Air. )

Drs. Vogelstein and Rosenthal will be co-panelists again at the Maryland Science Center starting at 7pm on Tuesday, April 24th, in a talk entitled Truths, Myths and Breakthroughs in Medical and Cancer Research, part of this year’s Great Talk series.  Follow the link for program and ticket information.

City Lit Project

The 15th annual City Lit Festival Saturday, April 14, will include scores of sessions for writers and for readers. City Lit Project director Carla Du Pree gives highlights, which range from stories about motherhood and racial, gender and socioeconomic “passing” to one-on-one editing sessions with established writers and a master class with poet Yrsa Daley-Ward about fearlessly writing your truth.  Then keynote speaker Phillip Gourevitch talks about his upcoming book on what the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide teaches about memory, forgetting and hiding.

On today's program, a conversation about housing in Baltimore, through the lens of gentrification and social justice.

While perhaps more than 16,000 houses in Baltimore are vacant and many neighborhoods have to contend with persistent blight, other areas are booming.  Station North and Greenmount West, on the North Avenue corridor, for example, have seen sustained commercial and residential development over the last decade, with investment from private developers, the city and the state. But who benefits from this kind of development?  Some of the neighborhoods that are part of the Baltimore Renaissance have attracted a population of transplants that are young, college educated and mostly white.  

But does our city also have investment that is creating opportunities for Baltimore’s low income minority population?  Can we have economic growth and equality? 

Tom is joined in Studio A by, Dr. Seema Iyer who oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore; Dr. Lawrence Brown, Associate Professor in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University and a long-time advocate for racial equality in Baltimore.

And, Cultural Anthropologist and activist, Sabiyha Prince,  author of the book  African Americans and Gentrification in Washington, DC: Race, Class and Social Justice in the Nation’s Capital.

Charm City Bluegrass Festival

Bluegrass music is often described as an amalgam of Appalachian mountain music, folk music, country music and even jazz. It turns out that Baltimore’s music scene played prominently in the birth of bluegrass.  We meet Phil Chorney, CEO and Founder of the ‘Charm City Bluegrass Festival’ and Baltimore Management Agency and Adam Kirr, the festival’s chief marketing officer to give us highlights of the event.

Also, Tim Newby, author of the book: “Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound and Its Legacy” explains bluegrass music's deep roots in Baltimore.

For information about the Charm City Bluegrass Festival, check out this link.

To view the festival documentary, visit this link.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 200 block of W Read Street was Baltimore’s ground zero for hippies, head shops, gay nightlife, and wild fashion.  In this episode, we explore the past and present of the neighborhood with a vintage clothier, a husband-and-husband duo that runs a hair salon, a father and son who operate a 70-year-old key shop, and a guy who loves to smoke a good cigar.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

The General Assembly has a little more 14 hours to solve some thorny legislative issues that have eluded compromise for months. For example, the crushing wave of homicides in Baltimore, or the new industry being created around medical marijuana. And, is the state legislature going to demand changes in safety features in public schools? We find out how this last day looks to two political analysts who have kept their eyes on the legislature for years. Barry Rascovar writes for the blog Political Maryland. Charles Robinson is a political reporter for State Circle on Maryland Public Television. 

image courtesy hackaday.com

(This story originally aired on April 5, 2017) 

Today, an archive edition of Midday on Ethics.  A year ago, HBO and Oprah Winfrey brought the story of Henrietta Lacks to television. The film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” based on the book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, is still available for streaming on the HBO website.

You may already be somewhat familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who lived in southeastern Baltimore County in the early 1950s, in Turner Station.   She had cancer, and in 1951, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital did a biopsy to diagnose her disease and to determine her course of treatment.  She died 8 months later.  But her cells -- a rare "immortal" line that could be reproduced endlessly -- have lived on.  She may have consented to the biopsy.  But without her consent, and without the knowledge of her family, cells taken during that procedure were used, for decades, in medical research around the world.  In fact the HeLa cell line – H-E for Henrietta and L-A for Lacks -- revolutionized medical research, and, by some accounts, has resulted in billions of dollars’ worth of medical breakthroughs.  None of the proceeds, however, ever went to Ms. Lacks or to her descendants.

So, could the same thing happen today?  What follows is a conversation about Informed Consent. How much have standards changed in the 65 years since Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Hopkins? And what are today’s standards for Informed Consent?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.  He stops by Midday from time to time to talk about how ethicists help us frame the complex questions that surround stories like the extraordinary case of Henrietta Lacks.

Because this is an archive edition of Midday, we’re not able to take any new calls or emails.   We first aired this show in April of last year, just before the Henrietta Lacks film debuted on HBO. 

jeffreyw/flickr

This week, Tony and Chef Cindy take a look at having fun and cooking well on a budget. They’ll give ideas for some delicious egg dishes to all the way to Cindy’s one pot gumbo  - with inexpensive wines to match. 

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

It’s the Midday News Wrap. The Maryland General Assembly wraps up its 2018 session on Monday at midnight. So far, more than 3,100 bills have been introduced in this session. Today, a tally of what legislation has passed, and what is likely to pass -- or fail -- between now and “sine die.”

First, Tom takes a look at one of the most controversial bills of the session: Senate Bill 122, the Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018. It calls for increasing penalties for certain crimes, including mandating penalties for crimes involving a firearm. It would also fund the anti-crime initiative, Safe Streets, and establish a task force to study statutes related to gangs.

Joshua Harris and Rev. Kobi Little join Tom in studio to explain why the NAACP (and other groups) oppose the bill.  Harris is director of communications for the NAACP Maryland State Conference. He’s also a former mayoral candidate in Baltimore City.  Little is the Maryland NAACP’s director of political action.

Later in the News Wrap, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record joins Tom on the line from the State House with the latest news about several other bills on this, the second to last official day of the session.

Photo Courtesy Morgan State University Opera

Tom is joined in Studio A by, internationally acclaimed classical soprano, Marquita Lister and the conductor and keyboard virtuoso Lester Green.  They are Artistic Director and Music Director, respectively, for the production of Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows, which opens at Morgan State University on Tuesday,  April 10th. 

The Opera and its libretto were written by the composer, Steven M. Allen.  It is suffused with Dunbar’s verse and correspondence between Dunbar and Moore, both of whom are recognized as luminaries of American literature.

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