John Lee | WYPR

John Lee

Reporter, Baltimore County

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.

John has worked in news for more than 20 years. He has been a news director, assistant news director, managing editor, assignment editor and reporter at various radio and television news stations. He’s won numerous awards from The Associated Press, including best news operation, best continuing news story, and best news series.

Before coming to WYPR, John spent more than a decade as a stay-at-home dad. During that time he raised a disabled child. He also listened to WYPR every day thinking, “I’d like to work there.”

In 2013, John did just that. He started as “the world’s oldest intern."

John has both a master’s degree in media management and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.

J Holsey Photography


  A Maryland legislator is calling for a ban on confederate flags and other hate symbols in the Baltimore County Public Schools.

She was asked to submit the request for a ban by a Black Lives Matter group in a part of the county that is overwhelmingly white.

 

Baltimore County Public Schools


  Students, teachers and administrators who say Baltimore County schools have a problem of systemic racism, laid bare their feelings in an online forum Wednesday.

 

Baltimore County

Overcrowded schools have been a profound problem in Baltimore County for three decades.

That’s according to a county councilman who wants to create a task force to study the law that controls developments in school districts.

Colin's Restaurant

The economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a deathknell for some businesses. But others are thriving.

Baltimore County is trying to figure out why some businesses are doing well, and how the others that are tanking might be helped.

Courtesy of MD Dept of Health

During this pandemic, contact tracers have been doing the critical job of tracking down people who might have come in contact with those who tested positive for COVID-19.

While the program has been expanding, there is a debate over how many tracers are needed and whether Maryland has enough.

Flickr

Baltimore County teachers have ratified a contract that contains a 1% pay raise, which is far less than what teachers originally expected to get.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Over the next few weeks, the Baltimore County Public Schools will be putting in place plans for fall classes.

At the same time, school officials are planning for face-to-face classes in August for those students who failed to switch to online learning when the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Update to the story: 

By a 78% majority, The Baltimore County Teachers Union voted to ratify the contract which takes effect July 1.

Original post: 

Baltimore County teachers this week are voting on a new contract.

Under the proposed deal, teachers would get a raise, but not as much as they had expected.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

 

There will be no in-class summer school in Baltimore County this year.

School officials had been considering having small groups of students in classes this summer, but a spokesman for the county schools said they want to keep everyone safe from COVID-19, so have decided not to do that.

Courtesy Architect of the Capitol

The HEROES Act, the $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed the House last month, remains stalled in the Senate.

About one third of that money would go to help state and local governments weather the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.

Local officials are trying to make the case to Congress that basic services could be cut if the act doesn’t pass.

Baltimore County Public Schools

 

It’s been a long road to graduation for Raymond Shaw Finney.

He was born with multiple disabilities. His father died when he was an infant. Raymond slipped into the foster care system. Then eight years later, a family member recognized a picture of Raymond on AdoptUSKids, a website that connects foster children with permanent families. She told Raymond’s aunt, Vanessa Finney, to have a look.

And when she did she immediately recognized her nephew.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt announced a series of changes in police policy Friday spurred by reaction to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Olszewski said the department’s use of force policy will be updated, that all members of the department will receive additional training on what he called “fair and impartial policing,” and that the county will make public complaints against police officers.

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

Here is how the COVID economic cookie has crumbled for McCormick & Company, the spice people, headquartered in Hunt Valley in Baltimore County.

John Lee

The Baltimore County Council passed Friday its  budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1,  but not before an acrimonious debate over whether to cut property taxes.  

Council members said they had to make historic cuts totaling nearly $59 million to the budget to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Lee

The Baltimore County Council is poised to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year Friday with historic levels of cuts.

County employees likely will see raises deferred and the school system will take a hit as well. At the same time, the Republican minority on the council is considering proposing a tax cut at Friday’s meeting.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Baltimore restaurants with outdoor dining permits can begin serving customers at 5 p.m. this Friday, but outside only, Mayor Jack Young announced Thursday. 

 

Hours later, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that outdoor dining will be allowed beginning at 5 p.m. Friday in the county as well. And he said restrictions on retail stores, houses of worship, day camps and pools in the county will be eased as well.

The announcements come one day after Gov. Larry Hogan lifted several pandemic-related restrictions throughout Maryland, including on outdoor dining.

In addition, officials in Anne Arundel and Howard counties announced they, too, would allow outdoor dining and ease restrictions on retail establishments as well.

Baltimore Mayor Young said in a statement he wanted to "thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.” 

Baltimore County Public Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic is making clear the divide between the rich and the poor students in Baltimore County schools, according to members of the school board.

Closing that divide may be made more difficult because the board itself is divided and distracted.

Alissa Eckert, Dan Higgins/CDC

Most of us are seeing a gradual reopening of our lives as COVID-19 restrictions are being eased. But for people living in nursing homes and assisted living, little has changed.

There are things we can do to help those who remain isolated with no end in sight.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski relaxed Thursday COVID-19 related restrictions on churches and businesses in the county.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore County Council debated what it means to be under a state of emergency and whether it should be extended.

At a morning news conference, Olszewski said retail stores can reopen starting at 9 am Friday. But no more than 10 people, including staff, can be inside the store at a time.

Friends School

Many public schools in Baltimore County are already overcrowded and county officials believe that could get worse because of a coming stream of students from private schools.

They are worried that some parents might get priced out of private schools in the COVID-19 economy.

Baltimore County

The Baltimore County Council voted Thursday to delay making deep cuts into the county budget. 

Council members are crossing their fingers that financial aid is coming soon from Congress.

CHARM TV


 Despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s move to ease pandemic-related restrictions beginning Friday, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young says the city cannot safely reopen due to a lack of testing and personal protective equipment.

 

Meanwhile, the county executives in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties said Thursday they would ease a few restrictions.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

The Baltimore County Council is expected to make what one councilman said will be historic budget cuts on Thursday.

The county is dealing with a budget shortfall projected to be at least $172 million, caused by the wrecking of the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuts to the school budget as well as delaying pay increases for county employees are on the table.

John Lee

Baltimore County’s police chief said Tuesday people are driving horrendously during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Students and teachers throughout Maryland have a month of online learning under their belts, and they learned for sure last week that’s how it will be for the rest of the school year.

Now school systems like Baltimore County Public Schools are taking what they have learned so far about virtual learning and trying to figure out what’s next.

Baltimore County

A proposal to delay when developers will have to pay impact fees in Baltimore County is dead.

County Councilman Julian Jones said he is withdrawing the legislation because it is clear it would not pass.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

Impact fees on developers are supposed to take effect in Baltimore County July 1. But County Councilman Julian Jones, citing COVID-19 issues, is proposing legislation that would delay the implementation of the fees for three months.

Tradepoint Atlantic

When the steel mill at Sparrows Point closed in 2012, it was an economic disaster for Eastern Baltimore County. But now during this COVID-19 driven recession, the old Bethlehem Steel site, which is being redeveloped as Tradepoint Atlantic, is a job-hiring bright spot.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County is opening its fourth COVID-19 testing site  Monday, the first one on the eastern side of the county.

Baltimore County

States and localities across the country are hoping for help from Washington as they grapple with huge deficits.

They are spending millions responding to COVID-19 while at the same time their tax revenues are drying up.

Baltimore County has received $144 million in help from the federal government, but it can't be used to plug a revenue shortfall estimated at close to $200 million.

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