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Baltimore

The Daily Dose 6-4-20

Jun 4, 2020
Rachel Baye/WYPR

A closer look at which businesses can open safely, under Stage II of Maryland’s Road Map to Recovery. One county leader wants to do away with the statewide patchwork of reopening schedules. And in Baltimore, city elections workers gather in a warehouse to properly count ballots.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

The deadline to mail in ballots for Baltimore’s citywide primaries is next Tuesday. This week, WYPR is airing audio profiles of the major Democratic mayoral candidates. Today, WYPR's Mary Rose Madden caught up with Mary Miller at a food distribution site in East Baltimore.

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Howard Co. Library/Creative Commons

Since the start of the pandemic several months ago, many of us have been working from home, ordering our groceries online, and Zooming with friends.  Kids are learning remotely.  It’s the new normal, right? 

If the pandemic has changed the way you do just about everything, consider yourself lucky. What about our neighbors who don’t have a computer or a reliable way to access the internet? They are more cut off than ever, and their children fall behind when teachers are livestreaming lessons and asking kids to upload homework.

Why is it that 40% of Baltimore residents lack broadband access to the internet?  In a city where red-lining in housing has a long history, has red-lining moved from the street to the internet? 

We begin with Dr. John Horrigan.  He’s the author of a new report for the Abell Foundation that describes the impact of Baltimore’s Digital Divide on low-income city residents. Dr. Horrigan is a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. 

Then, Chrissie Powell and Andrew Coy join the conversation.  Powell is the Baltimore site director of Byte Back, Inc., a tech-inclusion nonprofit that offers free technical skills classes for adult learners.  Coy is the executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, which teaches coding and other computer and tech skills to K-12 students.  They are both leaders of the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, which includes about 50 groups that are working together to reduce our city’s Digital Divide. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The deadline to mail in ballots for Baltimore’s citywide primaries are next Tuesday. This week, WYPR is airing audio profiles of the major Democratic mayoral candidates. Today, we’ll take a ride along with Brandon Scott, the City Council President from Park Heights. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan reports

AP/Julio Cortez

Before Megan heads home from a grueling shift of treating patients with COVID-19, the emergency department nurse heads to a locker room. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


  The coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on professional musicians: closed venues and restaurants mean that steady gigs have dried up for the foreseeable future. So Ed Hrybyk and Clarence Ward III have turned to a makeshift venue partial to Baltimore row home dwellers: a porch. 

 

On most Wednesday nights, Hrybyk plays at Nori, a sushi restaurant in Hampden that has since suspended dine-in services. For the last five Wednesdays, Hrybyk has instead picked up his upright bass and livestreamed a jazz show on his porch with Ward, who plays trumpet and flugelhorn. 

 

screenshot via Emily Sullivan/WYPR


    The Baltimore City Council heard a series of coronavirus measures during its second-ever virtual meeting Monday night. 

City Council President Brandon Scott introduced an ordinance that would make the acts of impersonating an official and issuing “false statements” during a declared state of emergency a misdemeanor. 

SCRE

Baltimore’s Taxpayer Night was held virtually for the first time ever on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic — the economic impact dominated discussion from the city’s spending board, budget department and residents alike. 

The annual event, hosted by the Board of Estimates, allows Baltimore residents to lobby for the priorities they think should be reflected in the city budget. 

The city is collecting less money due to the pandemic’s grip on daily life, especially in four areas: transportation, tourism, income and investment earnings. 

 

AP/Patrick Semansky

  


  Members of Mayor Jack Young’s administration would have spent Wednesday morning explaining their official preliminary budget to Baltimore’s spending board -- but because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, that proposal has become “largely irrelevant” according to the city’s budget director.

 

Instead, Robert Cenname used the Board of Estimates meeting to explain Baltimore’s fiscal outlook to city officials, warning them that the budget must be almost totally revamped before it is finalized in May.

 

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Jack Young got a preview on Tuesday of plans for a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center. The site’s initial 250 beds are part of a larger plan to increase hospitals’ capacity in the face of rapidly rising coronavirus infection rates.

 

The goal is 6,000 beds more than Maryland hospitals already have. Hogan said he arrived at that number — a number he called “mind-boggling” — based on what doctors and other experts said could be the need in the worst-case scenario.

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

There are five cases of the novel coronavirus and the first evidence of community transmission in Baltimore, city officials said Wednesday. 

“Baltimore is moving to a new phase of response,” said Mayor Jack Young, who announced during a news conference he was placing the city under a state of emergency.  

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Change is knocking on the door of Baltimore’s iconic Lexington Market. Ground has been broken on a new market building, and local vendors are wondering if they’ll have a place in the much-hyped new structure. In this episode, merchants, artisans, security officers, and custodians reflect on their lives and the uncertain future of the market they call home. 

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of this week attacking the Democrat-led General Assembly for not advancing his bills aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore. On Thursday, Democratic leaders fought back.

Hogan’s latest comments came during a press conference Thursday. He accused legislators of ignoring a “crisis” in Baltimore by not voting his crime package out of committee.

Tales of camaraderie, mentorship, second chances, prosperity, and style, from barbershops in Baltimore and beyond.  Have a seat, grab a newspaper, and make yourself comfortable… the next available barber will take you shortly.

Rachel Baye

State Del. Cheryl Glenn resigned Wednesday, effective immediately. Glenn was the chair of the Baltimore City delegation in the House of Delegates and previously led the Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones announced Glenn’s resignation Thursday morning. Jones said Glenn didn’t give a reason for stepping down.

PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates has awarded a $13 million contract to the company of a businessman connected to the “Healthy Holly” scandal.

At a meeting Wednesday morning, the board approved a noncompetitive contract worth more than $13 million for radio equipment under a long-standing master lease agreement with J.P. Grant’s financial services company, Grant Capital Management.

Hundreds of Baltimore students left class and walked to City Hall on Friday to demand local and national leaders take action to lessen the impact of climate change. 

The protests are part of the Global Climate Strike, a youth-led mobilization to advocate for an end to fossil fuel use ahead of an emergency United Nations climate summit. On Friday, organizers rallied marches in more than 150 countries. More than 800 marches occurred in the U.S.  

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

 

The city has put a busy business corridor in northeast Baltimore on a “road diet” — reducing the number of lanes for cars and installing floating bus stops and bike lanes. The goal is to make the stretch of Harford Road between Echodale and White Avenues safer not just for pedestrians, bus riders and bikers, but also for cars.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, road diets like this one can reduce crashes by an average of 29 percent.

Paul Sakuma/AP

 

Legislators in Baltimore have tried and failed to ban or highly reduce plastic bag use eight times in the last decade. A plastic bag ban bill appeared on the City Council’s docket for the ninth time this summer, and because of a progressive council it could finally pass, according to Councilman Bill Henry, the bill’s lead sponsor.

Howard County Library System via Flickr

President Donald Trump’s tweets over the weekend calling Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district a “rat and rodent infested disaster,” have sparked a conversation about poverty and the policies that have failed to alleviate it.

The district, which includes most of Baltimore, is majority black and heavily Democratic, voting overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 17 percent of residents have incomes below the poverty level, about 5 percentage points higher than the national average.

"Instead of bad-mouthing Baltimore, and instead of engaging in these racist diatribes, the president could help us with the challenges we face in the city," said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat.

AP/Patrick Semansky

Bryonna Harris, Jaionna Santos and Damani Thomas were eating lunch at Frederick Douglass High School when a hall monitor was shot.

 

The students, who are now rising seniors at the West Baltimore school, later testified at City Hall about the February incident, as well as about the trauma they have experienced both inside and outside their homes in their short lives. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Last fall, Baltimore voters approved a public financing fund for elections throughout the city. Now, the City Council is considering a bill that spells out the rules and regulations for that fund.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates has approved a $25.9 million contract with the ongoing Charm City Circulator operators to continue overseeing the free bus service for the next three years.

Errands Plus, Inc., which operates the service as RMA Worldwide Services Chauffeured Transportation, took over operations in October of last year after Baltimore sued the former operator, Transdev Services, for allegedly overcharging the city tens of millions of dollars.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore residents who face the most severe impacts of increasing water bills are disproportionately black, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report, conducted by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is independent from the NAACP, comes as the Baltimore City Council considers the Water Accountability & Equity Act.

Emily Sullivan

About a third of Baltimore city employees have regained email access as officials continue their work to restore digital services after the May 7 cyberattack that crippled the city’s computer system.

Around 90 percent of employees are expected to regain online access by the end of this week, and the city has developed two new workarounds to pay traffic tickets and water bills, city officials said during a news conference Tuesday.

After ransomware attacks hit Baltimore City’s computer servers, the city’s lien system became inaccessible and kept prospective homebuyers from closing on properties. This week, the city introduced a “manual workaround” for homebuyers in limbo that involves paper and sworn affidavits.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Single-stall restrooms in shops and restaurants around Baltimore could become gender inclusive — that is, not specifically designated for men or women — under a bill making its way before the City Council.

"All Gender," "Gender Inclusive," "Gender Neutral" or simply "Restroom" are all signs that could appear on single stall restroom doors under the bill, which would apply to publicly- and privately-owned establishments. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City have passed similar legislation in the last several years.

Introducing Theo

Mar 25, 2019

Theo Hill drives a truck for a living. On the job, he often catches Out of the Blocks on his radio. One day, he got inspired to call us with an idea. He asked, “Would you guys would like to help me make a podcast of my own, a podcast about addiction and recovery?' Theo brings an interesting background to the table. He's been in recovery himself for 19 years now, after struggling with a heroin addiction for much of his life. Theo’s podcast idea has now come to fruition. He’s spent the past several months hosting candid, personal conversations about the lure of addiction, the toll it takes, and the strength required to overcome its grip. This week, we launch the first four episodes of his new podcast, One Day at a Time, in Recovery in Baltimore. We want to introduce you to Theo on this special episode of Out of the Blocks.

Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers are set to consider Friday whether Johns Hopkins University should establish its own private police department, an effort that has been met with resistance from university faculty, staff, students, alumni and neighbors.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In the first State of the State address after winning reelection, Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted several of his priorities for the legislative session, including tax cuts and tougher sentences for violent crimes. His agenda was met with both praise and criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

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