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.

CREDIT DREW MORRIS/FLICKR


  Baltimore City students joined peers in Philadelphia, Detroit and Baton Rouge to call on Comcast to close the digital divide by providing free internet access for all students. The company’s Internet Essentials program isn’t fast or cheap enough to allow all students to learn remotely online, they said at a Wednesday news conference.  

Kimberly Vasquez, a senior at Baltimore City College High School, said her school year hasn’t been marked with the usual milestones but by internet connections that lag and drop, especially when multiple people in the same household are online.

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  Baltimore’s chief solicitor will recommend the city sever a lucrative contract with a company whose founder, J.P. Grant, illegally funneled $170,000 to disgraced former mayor Catherine Pugh. 

The recommendation comes after an investigation by the city Inspector General found that Grant’s firm, Grant Capital Management, violated campaign finance law and should not have been considered for the contract.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council passed legislation to  provide annual reports on city employee-owned businesses and require owners of vacant properties to conspiciously post ownership information on those buildings on Monday night. They also progressed legislation to rename the Columbus Obelisk monument to honor victims of police brutality, as well as a bill that would establish residency requirements for certain Baltimore Police Department command staff. WYPR's Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner recap the meeting. 

AP PHOTO/MARY ALTAFFER


  Gov. Larry Hogan will allow restaurants to expand indoor dining capacities to 75%  at 5:00 p.m. Monday. The Republican is encouraging residents to partake in Maryland’s first statewide Restaurant Week, despite concerns over COVID-19 spread throughout the state.

“To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside,” Hogan said Friday in a news release. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


  A new bill before the Baltimore City Council aims to require hospitality businesses to bring back the same employees who were laid off at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as they reopen; hospitality employment is down 50% from last year, compared to 12% for all jobs across the city.

The council’s Labor Committee recessed without voting on the bill after city lawyers said they needed more time to consider a set of amendments during a hearing Thursday. The committee did pass another bill that would require new owners of businesses to retain the same employees for at least 90 days.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City’s spending board greenlit a rare $25 million emergency withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund Wednesday to balance a budget that had to be rewritten because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Jack Young’s administration issued the third ever request to dip into the fund after the finance department said it needed the emergency funds to balance the city budget.

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


Baltimore City Department of Public Works officials told city council members Tuesday that more than a third of their trash and recycling crews didn’t work in August because of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing some neighborhoods to go weeks without pick-ups.

“We have been hit on all sides by COVID,” John Chalmers, Head of DPW’s Bureau of Solid Waste, said in a hearing before the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. 

Baltimore Heritage/Flickr


  The Maryland Board of Elections approved Baltimore City’s early voting and Election Day voting centers during a Friday meeting.  

Early voters can cast a ballot at eight early voting centers, which will open Oct. 26 through Nov 2. Those casting a ballot on Election Day will have 24 election day voting centers to choose from; early voting centers will also host voters on Election Day. 

AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER


 SeaChange, the mail-in ballot company that the state Board of Elections blamed for proofing errors in Baltimore’s June primary election, has walked away from its contract with Maryland less than two months before the November general election. 

The Minneapolis-based company informed the state board last week that it would not go through with the work needed to produce Maryland ballots; printing was scheduled to begin Sept. 3. Elections officials say the state has contracted with multiple vendors to print ballots and still on track to have all of its mail-in ballots printed by the end of this month.

Ted Eytan/Flickr

LaFontaine E. Oliver, the president and general manager of WYPR, was voted the chairman of NPR’s governing board on Friday afternoon. 

The board is instrumental in both NPR’s day-to-day and long term strategy: it decides management’s policies and overall direction, monitors the news organization’s performance and provides financial oversight of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, non-essential businesses like bars and retail outlets are slowly re-opening. But concert venues like the Ottobar in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood face a particular challenge: they were the first to close and they’ll be the last to fully reopen.  

In the before times, a typical Friday night at the alternative music venue involved dancing, drinking and “absolute madness,” said Tecla Tesnau, the Ottobar’s owner. 

AP/Julio Cortez

Transit officials, school officials and transit riders appeared virtually before the Baltimore City Council Wednesday night to discuss the Maryland Transit Administration’s proposed bus route cuts stemming from the fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I don't, we don't, MDOT does not sit here as an opposing side trying to convince you that these cuts are OK,” Kevin Quinn, the MTA’s executive director, said before the council’s transportation committee. “They are impactful.” 

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


  Loosened pandemic restrictions in Baltimore’s phase 2 reopening will go into effect at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, including increased capacity at indoor restaurants.

Mayor Jack Young issued an executive order that allows restaurants, religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreation establishments and casinos to increase operations from 25% to 50% of their capacity.

Capacity at indoor restaurants, religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreation establishments and casinos may increase from 25% to 50%, per an executive order from Mayor Jack Young. 

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The coronavirus is not taking time off for Labor Day, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said, and residents should remain cautious as they enter the long holiday weekend known for cookouts, parties and one last summer hurrah.

“Now is still not the time to be planning large parties, cookouts, celebrations or religious events,” the Democrat said during a Friday morning news conference. “We're still in a pandemic, one that's built to spread rapidly in large groups. I know people are not looking to catch COVID, but COVID is looking for you.”

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Gov. Larry Hogan has lifted broad pandemic containment restrictions across Maryland starting on Friday, but that doesn’t mean localities like Baltimore City are joining him in phase 3 of his re-opening plan.

Baltimore is still firmly in phase 2, Mayor Jack Young said at a news conference Wednesday, though the city will allow indoor theaters to open at 25% of capacity. 

“We do not want to erase the gains we’ve made over the past month by loosening restrictions now,” the Democrat said.

John Lee/WYPR

  Baltimore’s Department of Public Works will suspend pickup recycling services through Nov. 1, acting director Matthew Barbark announced at a Thursday afternoon news conference. The agency has reached a breaking point with its struggles to fulfill trash pickup services due to shortages of workers tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

All recycling collection crews will be diverted to trash collection on a full-time basis beginning Aug. 31. The city will create recycling drop-off centers in each of its 14 city council districts for residents; they will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. 

Wikimedia Commons


  Baltimore City Council is considering a bill to rename the Columbus Obelisk monument in Herring Run Park to honor the victims of police brutality. The move comes as cities across the country re-examine monuments during a summer of national reckoning with racial injustice. 

“This is not an attack on Italians. This is not an attack on white people,” insisted Councilman Ryan Dorsey of northeast Baltimore. “This is not an attack on history. This is us helping to right this ship that has been steered by white supremacy as a system.”

The Democrat introduced the legislation to rename the monument, which stands 44 feet high in the Northeast Baltimore park..

Originally, the white stucco obelisk stood at North Avenue and Harford Road. It was erected in 1792 and is the oldest U.S. monument to Columbus. In 2017, protestors took a sledgehammer to it, decrying the violence and slavery the explorer inflicted on indigenous people. Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation restored the monument afterward. 

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Fear of COVID-19 means Baltimore County schools will not send needed aides to special ed students during remote learning. Teachers at Baltimore City Catholic schools are afraid to return to their classrooms. And small, independent music and arts venues in Baltimore City are struggling financially as the pandemic keeps crowds from gathering. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

As garbage piles up throughout Baltimore due to delayed trash pick-ups, Mayor Jack Young’s neighbors have been knocking on his door, wanting to know when their overflowing trash and recycling bins will be emptied.

 

“I'm frustrated, too, because my trash doesn’t always get picked up on time either,” the Democrat said at a news conference Wednesday. “But I understand why we are where we are.” 

Democratic National Convention

Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott represented Maryland during the Democratic National Convention’s state roll call Tuesday night, while standing next to the Fells Point statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Scott and University of Michigan student Bianca Shah of Rockville extolled Joe Biden, the Democtatic presidential nominee, for his promises to boost equity. 

AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

The Baltimore City Council held a virtual meeting Monday night, where two new bills that aim to bolster housing security as the coronavirus pandemic continues were introduced. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner discuss an effort to establish a permanent housing voucher program and a potential ban on the city tax selling of homes that belong to people over the age of 65, people who are disabled and people with low incomes.

Screenshot via Facebook

Maryland lawmakers slammed the Trump administration’s service changes to the U.S. Postal Service on Monday, categorizing those changes as attacks on democracy.

The agency has warned that it cannot guarantee that all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive at election offices with enough time to be counted. 

Emily Sullivan

 

Low income Baltimoreans did not receive a promised water bill discount due to go into effect last month after Mayor Jack Young delayed the implementation of the Water Accountability and Affordability Act, citing the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the Department of Public Works’ inability to meet the law’s deadline.

AP PHOTO/JULIO CORTEZ

Baltimore Gas and Electric officials said Tuesday afternoon that the company did not find any gas leaks during an inspection of the site of Monday’s explosion in Northwest Baltimore. An investigation into the precise cause of the explosion remains active.  

The blast killed two people and reduced three rowhomes to rubble. BGE inspected the homes’ gas mains and found data “indicative of some type of issue beyond the BGE meter on customer-owned equipment,” according to the statement.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

 

At least one person is dead and six people have been transported to the hospital in critical condition after a Monday morning explosion destroyed three rowhomes in Northwest Baltimore.

 

The explosion occurred shortly before 10:00 a.m. at Reisterstown and Labyrinth Roads, near the Reisterstown Road Plaza shopping center and close by the city-county line. The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Over 200 rescue personnel arrived on scene, including officials from the Baltimore City Fire Department and the Baltimore County Fire Department.

Elvert Barnes/Flickr


Maryland’s public defenders have announced their intent to unionize. The lawyers and their support staff said unionizing will help ease the challenges of enormous caseloads and improve working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic in the courtroom and beyond. 

They are organizing with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, the largest union for state government employees. 

EVAN VUCCI/AP

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Baltimoreans Friday of the consequences of not following public health measures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press conference with city Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzarasa, Adams said Baltimore’s partial re-openings will be “taken away from us if we can’t heed basic public health measures, like standing six feet from one another and wearing a mask,” Vice Admiral Adams said.

The Baltimore City Council unanimously overrode Mayor Jack Young’s veto of a charter amendment that would create a city administrator position to oversee day-to-day operations during a special session Thursday night.

That means the amendment and six others will be on city voters’ ballots in November.

 

AP PHOTO/MARY ALTAFFER


Mayor Jack Young announced on Thursday that Baltimore City restaurants may open, this time at 25% capacity, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Friday. The Democrat also announced tightened pandemic restrictions, some of which are stricter than Maryland guidelines.

The announcement comes about two weeks after Young suspended indoor dining services amid a large spike in COVID-19 cases; new case numbers continue to surpass those of April and May. 

Baltimore City Health Department handout

Baltimore city officials are urging residents to stay home and obey face masks requirements after an “alarming” increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Baltimore.

“The vast majority of you are heeding our pleas to continue to practice social distancing and wear your face coverings,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said at a news conference alongside Mayor Jack Young on Thursday. “But the case data indicates that not enough of us are.”

 

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