Emily Sullivan | WYPR

Emily Sullivan

Reporter, City Hall

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics.  She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves.  There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team.  Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.

Sullivan has also reported on health and education for WAMU in Washington, D.C..  She got her start in public radio as an intern at WNYC.  Sullivan also interned at The Village Voice, where she produced a music festival.  She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and women's, gender, and sexuality studies from Fordham University.

In her spare time, she enjoys biking, watching Jeopardy and defending the honor of New Jersey, her home state. She lives in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

When coronavirus restrictions in Baltimore City change with fluctuating COVID-19 data, no single person at Joe Squared decides how the pizzeria will respond. Instead, 13 worker-owners put their heads together and vote on operational status. 

The Station North staple, once owned by Joe Edwardsen, is now a worker cooperative. After closing in the spring, when the coronavirus pandemic first began to grip the restaurant industry, Edwardsen couldn’t see how the pizza place could survive. 

But this fall, after receiving guidance and financial support from local groups, federal loans and grants, the restaurant re-emerged as a worker-owned cooperative — a move Joe Squared’s worker-owners say offers a new way forward for other struggling eateries in Baltimore and beyond. 

Steven Senne/AP

City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett wants strict controls on the use by Baltimore City of facial recognition surveillance, a technology that privacy advocates say holds harmful implications for people of color. He has authored a bill that would prohibit its use by non-police city agencies and set strict standards for use by the police department.

“My intention with this bill is not to impede the Baltimore City Police Department from investigating crime in Baltimore City,” he said at a hearing Wednesday afternoon. “I do believe, however, that it is important that we raise questions about how the technology is currently deployed to ensure that there's oversight, transparency and the rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected.” 

Will Kirk/Courtesy of Comptroller’s office

A package of bills aimed to modernize the office of the Baltimore City Comptroller, including one that would require real estate records to be maintained on an online public database instead of a “well-bound leather book,” were introduced to the City Council Monday night on behalf of Comptroller Bill Henry.

Charm TV

About 10% of Baltimoreans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, but distribution challenges like limited supply and bad weather remain a challenge, said City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.

“Despite the positive news and important milestone, vaccines remain in short supply both in Baltimore and nationally,” she said at a Monday afternoon news conference.“At this time, vaccine supply remains our greatest limiting factor in providing more vaccinations to residents.”

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  The Baltimore City Council held a hearing Tuesday morning to discuss Mayor Brandon Scott’s request to approve a $245,000 salary for the director of the embattled Department of Public Works, which would launch the position into the city’s top three highest-paid jobs.

The DPW director’s salary is currently set at $188,000, per city ordinance. Scott argues that the salary increase of 30% is commensurate with the challenges of managing the city’s deteriorating water infrastructure and sewer system.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Baltimore City lawmakers introduced a series of legislation Monday night aimed at  delaying the annual tax sale, bolstering pay for gig workers and requiring contractors doing business with the city to submit detailed employment plans.

Courtesy of the University of Maryland Medical System

Mayor Brandon Scott has asked Johnson & Johnson to sell coronavirus vaccine doses slated to be manufactured in Baltimore directly to the city, in an attempt to expedite the vaccination process for residents and bypass the federal distribution system.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises appeared before the City Council Thursday night to address questions from lawmakers after the district delayed an expansion of in-person learning to better prepare for the return of students.   

 

She and other school administrators have argued that the district has successfully operated 27 schools for more than 2,000 of the city’s most vulnerable students, with only one recorded instance of COVID-19 transmission since late September.

 

“The reality is that Baltimore City has been opening schools safely, slowly since this past summer,” Santelises said. 

LOWELL LARSON/FLICKR


Baltimore City Public Schools announced Wednesday a two-week delay of the next phase of its partial reopening plans. Officials said it will allow them more time to prepare for the in-person return of students; their decision comes after some students and the Baltimore Teachers Union protested the district’s plans.

 

Instead of returning in mid-February, students in kindergarten through second grade may return March 1. Third, fourth, fifth and ninth graders may return March 15. High school seniors may return April 12. The rest of the system’s reopening plans will be announced in March.

 

Patrick Semansky/AP

Baltimore City’s spending board voted unanimously Wednesday to end a privately operated controversial surveillance plane program funded by Texas philanthropists. 

 

The program’s “spy planes” have been grounded since a six-month pilot program concluded Oct. 31, but Baltimore’s contract with Persistent Surveillance Systems was not due to expire until October 2021. 

 

Iain Watson/Flickr

Comcast announced Tuesday that it will double connection speeds for Internet Essentials, a discounted package that has served as a portal to education and work for many low-income families throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The National Weather Service expects an additional 2-4 inches of snow to coat the Baltimore region in the next few days. Around an inch is expected to fall Monday afternoon, meaning a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain may exacerbate poor road conditions. 

Kevin Wong/Flickr


Three Baltimore City Council members and the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition have asked Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate Comcast for price gouging.

 

Their request comes after the company established a plan to charge Xfinity customers without unlimited data subscriptions who exceed 1.2 terabytes (TB) earlier this month.

Paul Taylor/Getty Images


The Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a bill Monday night that halves the service fees third-party delivery apps like GrubHub can charge restaurants, hoping to aid businesses that have stayed afloat on takeout orders during the pandemic.

Mayor Brandon Scott has said he will sign the bill into law; it will go into effect immediately.


Screenshot via CharmTV

  Mayor Brandon Scott will keep Baltimore’s Phase 1 COVID-19 in place  the city’s intensive and acute care units approach the limits of their  capacity..


“Unfortunately, we are still seeing the impacts of New Year's Eve in our data,” the Democrat said at a news conference. “These are not decisions that I made lightly.” 

Scott said the plight of restaurant owners and restaurant workers, whose businesses are only open for carryout, keeps him up at night. 

Screenshot via CharmTV

Baltimore City Council members introduced a package of housing relief bills Wednesday night during a reconvened meeting that was suspended earlier this week when the city’s video conferencing system failed due to a Webex outage. 

Though the coronavirus pandemic is not the genesis of the city’s longstanding housing insecurity issues, its resounding effects — shuttered businesses, job losses and long lines for unemployment benefits — have exacerbated the crisis.   

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Mayor Brandon Scott announced Wednesday Baltimore City recycling curbside pickup services will resume next week, ending a six-month suspension first enacted due to COVID-19 outbreaks among crews that led to a shortage of workers.

Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR

The Aug. 10 explosion in Northwest Baltimore that killed two people, injured seven and reduced three rowhomes to rubble was due to a “large natural gas buildup” ignited by a stove, city officials said Tuesday morning.

  

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


Baltimore City council members were in the middle of introducing a slew of new legislation at their first virtual meeting of the year Monday when a robotic voice interrupted their proceedings: “The host has not yet arrived. Please stand by. ”

The voice was the harbinger of every lawmaker’s worst logistical nightmare during a virtual legislative session: a widespread Webex outage. The technical failure promptly booted the council off their video call. The members attempted to wait it out for more than half an hour before Council President Nick Mosby’s office announced the meeting would be suspended and resume Wednesday evening.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City will stay in amended Phase 1 COVID-19 restrictions that ban indoor and outdoor dining, Mayor Scott announced Friday. He said he arrived at his decision after reviewing numbers that indicated a surging post-holiday spread and rising positivity rates.

PAUL SAKUMA/AP


  Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott has issued an executive order to delay until July the implementation of a ban on single-use plastic bags sought by progressive legislators, citing the ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic. 


Scott said in a statement that he is fully committed to making Baltimore a more sustainable and environmentally aware city, but that his team needs “more time to get the implementation of this ban right for our businesses and residents.” 


Screenshot via CharmTV

  

  Mayor Brandon Scott said Tuesday he may update citywide restrictions on dining and non-mask wearing activities at the end of this week after his team reviews post-holidays COVID-19 data.

The city is in its fourth week of indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar closures, which Scott announced on his first full day in office. He also capped retail and religious institutions, gyms, malls and museums at 25% of capacity.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Santa takes many forms throughout the holiday season: there’s the work party Santa, the  parade float Santa, the illustrious mall Santa. In Baltimore, there’s Santa atop a cargo bike carrying several hundred pounds worth of Christmas trees, trailed by the scent of slow-cooked pork. 

From the last week of Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas, Todd Coleman and Mike Santoro dress as St. Nick, load up to eight Christmas trees on their bikes and pack a cooler full of pulled pork sandwiches. The duo run Pork ‘N Pine: a local legend of a business that delivers Douglas firs and BBQ to your door.

the office of mayor brandon scott


  Mayor Brandon Scott has named Jim Shea, his former running mate in the 2018 gubernatorial race, to be Baltimore City’s top lawyer, while former Acting City Solicitor Dana P. Moore has been named the city's first Chief Equity Officer. 

Shea, chairman emeritus of Venable LLP, the state’s largest law firm, previously served as managing partner and chair of the firm from 1995 to 2017, shortly before his gubernatorial run. 


Screenshot via CharmTV

Despite more than $130 million worth of contracts spread out over a decade that aimed to improve Baltimore City and Baltimore County’s shared, aging water system, a joint report from the city’s and county’s Offices of the Inspector General released Monday discovered more than 22,000 dysfunctional water meters that have resulted in millions of dollars worth of uncollected revenue. 

Baltimore City Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming and Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan also decried “a fundamental lack of communication between the city and the county [that] is central to the problems that have been plaguing the water billing system for years” in the report, which landed after nine months of investigation. 

Governor Hogan issues an emergency order and advises all Marylanders to stay home for the holidays. Baltimore’s restaurant industry gets some help from the City Council when it comes to third party app delivery fees. And Governor Hogan’s former chief of staff is grilled by a legislative committee about expenses when he headed a state agency.


World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr


 

When Dr. Kathleen Page made her hospital rounds in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, she heard the same question from Latino immigrants hospitalized with COVID-19 over and over again: “When can I go back to work?” 

“The clear underlying theme here was low income wages, the necessity to work,” Page said, especially for undocumented immigrants. “Remember: They were not getting the stimulus check, they were not getting unemployment benefits.”  

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council will consider a bill to halve the fees that third-party delivery services such as GrubHub can charge restaurants.

The announcement Wednesday came less than a week after Mayor Brandon Scott closed indoor and outdoor dining operations amid growing COVID-19 rates.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


Members of Baltimore’s spending board who abstain from a vote because of a perceived conflict of interest will have to explain their abstentions under a new ethics rule proposed by Comptroller Bill Henry.

Under the old rules, members of the Board of Estimates were expected to refrain from voting on issues that presented conflicts of interest and send a memo to the Comptroller’s office saying they would abstain. Under the new rule, which went into effect Wednesday as the newest members of the board met for the first time, members have to explain why they’re abstaining in that memo.

Screenshot via CharmTV

A series of new pandemic restrictions ordered by Mayor Brandon Scott in Baltimore, including the shuttering of indoor and outdoor dining, will go into effect at 5:00 p.m. Friday, as local hospitals approach capacity.

“Governor Hogan said yesterday that the state of Maryland is in red. No, we're on fire,” Scott said in a Friday morning news conference. “We have to understand the dire situation that we are in.”

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