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Cameras On Cops, Baltimore Hiring Practices, Bay Algae Blooms, & Stopping For School Buses

Algae Bloom in the Chesapeake Bay taken by painaporo via flickr

Baltimore is considering requiring cameras to be strapped to its police officers. The city has reached a settlement with the US Justice Department over its hiring practices. Last week’s rains are leading to major algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay. A study shows that more drivers are failing to stop for school buses in Maryland. And more.

Cameras On Cops: Baltimore’s police officers could soon be equipped with cameras to record their interactions with citizens. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said yesterday that the city is taking a close look at the idea, and at how it’s being implemented in other cities. The mayor says “I can think of a hundred ways that could be useful,” – but she notes that strapping cameras to police could potentially raise privacy issues. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that mayor’s comments amid increasing national interest in the idea, following the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson Missouri earlier this month.

Baltimore Settles With DoJ Over Hiring Practices: Baltimore has reached a settlement with the US Justice Department over its hiring practices. Under the agreement, announced yesterday, the city has agreed not to require job applicants to answer questions about disabilities before making conditional job offers. It’s also agreed not to have most applicants to submit to medical exams before those offers are made. And the city will pay $65-thousand in damages to an unnamed complainant, who said she was rejected for a job as a fire department dispatcher after answering such questions and going through a medical examination. The Baltimore Sun notes that the city’s Board of Estimates needs to sign off on the agreement for it to take effect.

Bay Algae Blooms: Last week’s record rainfall has helped create large algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay, with their growth being fed by a flood of stormwater pollution – including a major sewage spill in the Patapsco River. Scientists with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation say the blooms could negatively impact the estuary’s already-low crab and oyster population – because the algae will suck oxygen out of the water when it dies and decomposes. The Capital Gazette reports that the biggest blooms in the upper bay are being seen in areas where the heaviest rains occurred… near Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Pasedena.

We Can't Assume Brown, Martin Tragedies Are Simply Random: WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith says that the upheaval in Ferguson Missouri has been defined by over-reaction… and by no action at all. Fraser comments in his weekly essay.

Baltimore Casino Revenues To Fund Steam Pipe Replacement: Baltimore’s Board of Estimates signed off on a plan to use about $3-million of casino revenue to replace an important underground steam pipe. The move was supported by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who says that the steam pipe must be moved before Sunday, so that the new Horseshoe Casino Baltimore can open as planned on Tuesday of next week. The Mayor says that if the work isn’t done, the city could potentially lose tens of thousands of dollars a day. The move was criticized by some lawmakers and community leaders who say the funding should be spent on community projects. The Baltimore Sun has more here; there’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.

Rawlings-Blake’s Ethics Forms: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake disclosed some $13-hundred in gifts on her 2013 ethics forms. The Baltimore Sunreviewed the documents filed by city elected officials and reports that a daily diary, chocolate rainbow cake and a skin care gift basket are just some of the nearly three-dozen items Rawlings-Blake included on the forms. A $150 umbrella from city Comptroller Joan Pratt was the most expensive gift the mayor reported.

Drivers Not Stopping For School Buses: Most public school students in Maryland head back to school next week. And the state’s Department of Education is urging motorists to keep an eye out for school buses once they’re back on the roads. The call comes amid the release of a new survey showing more drivers are ignoring the "stop arms" on school buses that extend when the buses stop to pick-up or drop off kids. On the single day in spring that the study was conducted, more than 35-hundred motorists ignored the stop arms. That's an increase of more than 100 from when the study was conducted the previous year. On the bright side, this year’s higher numbers are way down from the first time the study was conducted in 2011 – the survey done that year recorded more than seven-thousand violations. 

First-Ever Chancellor Of Baltimore Archdiocese Schools: Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore won’t start until September, but when they do, they’ll be overseen by the system’s first-ever chancellor of education. Church leaders tapped retired IBM executive James Sellinger for the post. According to the Catholic Review, Sellinger is in charge of directing promotion and fundraising for the Archdiocese’s Catholic school system.

Longer Carnival Cruises To Sail From Baltimore: Starting next year, folks setting sail on Carnival Cruises from the Port of Baltimore will be able to spend more time at sea. The Daily Record reportsthat Carnival is launching a series of 10 to 14 day cruises next October. Previously, Carnival’s longest cruises from Baltimore were only a week long.

Ravens 10th Most Valuable NFL Franchise: The Ravens have been listed as the 10th most valuable NFL franchise, in Forbes annual list. The ranking puts the team’s worth at $1.5-billion – that’s up 22 percent from last year. The top team on the list remains the Dallas Cowboys, valued at $3.2 billion dollars. The Baltimore Business Journal has more.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox last night, beating them 4 to 3. The O’s are off today; tomorrow, they take on the Chicago Cubs.

Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in their game yesterday; the score there was 3 to 2.

WYPR's Morning Edition news anchor Ashley Sterner serves up the latest Maryland news and weather every weekday morning, delightfully interspersed with the occasional snarky comment.