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WYPR News

News and Commentary from WYPR's award winning newsroom.

Mary Rose Madden

For nearly three weeks, former police officers, drug dealers who were granted immunity to testify, a bail bondsman and others have painted a picture of a Baltimore Police Department where officers routinely robbed citizens, planted evidence and falsified time sheets.

Now a jury is deliberating whether to convict two of those officers, members of the now disbanded Gun Trace Task Force, of federal racketeering, robbery and wire fraud.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore’s acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa announced additional internal changes to the department Friday. The appointment of one deputy commissioner, Thomas Cassella, is being held up.

De Sousa had named Cassella to be Deputy Commissioner for the Operations Bureau, but documents were leaked to the media alleging two disciplinary complaints against him.

AMR Meter by PSNH via flickr

Officials at Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works noticed an error in their system that incorrectly sent out 566 water bills to customers earlier in the week.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate gave initial approval on Wednesday to a bill delaying a new law that requires businesses to offer paid sick leave. The legislation pushes the law’s start date from Feb. 11 to July 1.

Businesses were originally supposed to begin offering sick leave this past January, about nine months after the law passed. But just after the 2017 legislative session ended, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, and last month, the legislature overrode the veto.

John Lee

  

The Baltimore County School Board heard last night from the county council chairman, two teachers of the year and others who want Interim School Superintendent Verletta  White to be given the job permanently.

 

That show of support comes as there are calls for both a state audit and an expanded county audit of the county schools’ finances.

 

Rachel Baye

 

Gov. Larry Hogan called for increasing mandatory minimum sentences for violent repeat offenders during his State of the State address last week. The bills to do that came up for a hearing Tuesday in a House of Delegates committee and ran into opposition.

baltimoreravens.com

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has shared the grand plan for the franchise going forward, or at least, he’s disclosed who will be at the helm.

General manager Ozzie Newsome, the only general manager the franchise has had in 22 years in Baltimore, will take a final lap around the course in 2018 before retiring to a consultant post.

At last night's meeting of the Baltimore City Council, Brandon Scott, chair of the public safety committee, put forth a resolution for the state to create a board of police commissioners and transfer over full control of the city’s police department to the city.

WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi reports that this is the not the first time Scott has pushed for this legislation.


Baltimore City Health Department

Some state legislators who represent Baltimore in Annapolis are trying to increase state funding for programs designed to prevent gun violence before it happens.  The officials compared gun violence to a contagious disease at a press conference announcing the legislation Monday in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood.

Rob Ferrell/Goucher

Ashley Aylward is a senior at Goucher College in Towson, majoring in political science. She wants to run for office one day. When she opened a Democratic gubernatorial forum at the Ungar Athenaeum at Goucher, Aylward wanted the seven candidates who particiapated to know something about young voters.

 

"Contrary to popular opinion, we do care about issues far greater than the legalization of marijuana,” Aylward said.

 

Dominique Maria Bonessi

With scathing revelations coming out of the Gun Trace Task Force trials daily, a record year of violence in 2017, and increased mistrust between the police and community, Acting Commissioner Darryl DeSousa has a lot of work on his hands. DeSousa discussed plans to change his department with state lawmakers Friday.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan has basal and squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, he announced Thursday. He emphasized that it is both minor and treatable.

Rachel Baye

Maryland Democrats are introducing a ban on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas shooting in October that enables a semi-automatic gun to fire continuously without repeatedly pulling the trigger, they announced Thursday.


Jamyla Krempel

Baltimore City is suing a number of drug companies and distributors as well as two Baltimore County doctors for their alleged roles in the city’s opioid crisis. The city joins more than a hundred states and cities that have already filed lawsuits against the companies. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi talked with Nathan Sterner about the suit.

Rachel Baye

 

In the last State of the State Address of his four-year term, Gov. Larry Hogan called for rising above political discord.

“Instead of becoming more like Washington, let’s send a message to Washington by putting the politics aside and coming together for all Marylanders," he said during Wednesday's speech.

But almost everything about the way the speech was received was partisan, down to the applause, which came almost exclusively from Republicans.

Rachel Baye

Baltimore City Democrats and others gave Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address mixed reviews Wednesday.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

While Republicans praised President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday night, Democrats in Maryland’s Congressional delegation had little good to say about it.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Now that the great evil known as Larry Nassar has been purged from the national consciousness, we move on to the next phase of the Great Gymnastics Scandal of 2018.

It’s the part where everyone puts on the breastplate of righteous indignation and swings the sword of outrage and condemnation.

Anger over offshore rigs

Jan 29, 2018

Most of Maryland’s Congressional lawmakers—along with their colleagues from up and down the East Coast—have been up in arms over the Interior Department’s announcement that it will allow drilling for gas and oil in the Atlantic Ocean.

They were angry enough in December when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the plan. That anger turned to outrage this month when Florida was given a waiver that blocks drilling off the state’s shores.

John Lee

 

Some people who live near Baltimore County’s animal shelter in Baldwin  say the sound of barking dogs is blasting into their neighborhood and dumping on their quality of life. The County Council is considering legislation that would spell out how many barks and yelps could land the pound in the doghouse.

 

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

The pictures of collapsed ceilings and students wearing parkas and gloves in their classroooms earlier this month outraged parents, grandparents and teachers. 

They showed up at a town hall meeting at Dunbar High School Monday and a school board meeting Tuesday to express fears for their children's safety and complain of a lack of communication from school administrators.

People at the town hall meeting held signs that read “warmth is a basic human right” and “no more excuses.” 

Rachel Baye

Maryland residents are expected to save nearly $3 billion on their federal income taxes in 2018 as a result of the new federal tax law, according to a report state Comptroller Peter Franchot released Thursday. But residents will likely lose at least $400 million in state and local income taxes, unless lawmakers act to prevent it.

Franchot’s office estimates that between a quarter and a third of state taxpayers could pay more state and local income taxes.

Rachel Baye

Maryland state income tax bills could grow by more than $400 million under the new federal tax law, according to an analysis Comptroller Peter Franchot released Thursday.

According to the report, between a quarter and a third of Maryland taxpayers could pay more state and local income taxes.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

For those who missed our seven-day trip to Havana, Cuba, see what you missed here!

Dominique Maria Bonessi

A group of WYPR members and our program director,  Andy Bienstock, went to Cuba last week for the International Jazz Festival in Havana. And WYPR’s City Hall reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, tagged along in search of her Cuban roots and to try to figure out just what’s the difference between Cuban and American jazz.

statecenter.org

 

A state-commissioned study released Tuesday offers a list of new, alternative uses for State Center in Midtown Baltimore.

The state office complex has been slated for redevelopment for more than a decade. Community members told a state panel Tuesday afternoon that starting over with new plans disregards what they want for their neighborhoods.

For the nearly 150 years since college students have been playing organized sports, the deck has been decidedly stacked against the collegians.

Well, the times appear to be changin’, what with a series of votes last week during the NCAA’s annual convention.

A panel of the largest schools in the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, passed four changes to the way athletics will be run, going forward.

Mary Rose Madden

Mayor Catherine Pugh has fired Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and hired Deputy Commissioner Daryll DeSousa as his replacement.

Pugh announced the change Friday morning.

She said Davis worked hard , but that she'd grown "impatient" waiting for crime numbers in Baltimore to drop and wanted to see "new, creative, innovative ways to change what we're seeing here every day". 

Baltimore public schools' heating crisis earlier this month was a "day of reckoning" for the system, the city, and the state said public schools CEO Sonja Santelises. The crisis, she said in an interview with WYPR Wednesday, exposed the truth that Baltimore city school buildings are less than functional.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan is again pushing for Maryland to change how it draws legislative districts.

For the third consecutive year, Hogan is introducing a bill that creates what he says would be a nonpartisan commission to draw the districts, he announced Thursday

For the last two years, Hogan’s redistricting bill has died in committee. Democrats say they don’t want Maryland to give up Democratic seats in Congress without other states giving up Republican seats.

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