Baltimore | WYPR

Baltimore

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.

It’s been almost seven weeks since a cyberattack crippled Baltimore City’s computer system.

 

Now, as the FBI continues its investigation and the city struggles to put it all back together, members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation are looking at ways to prevent future attacks from creating the same damage.

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.

Fitzgerald Makes First Public Appearance at City Hall

Nov 27, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore Police Commissioner-designate Joel Fitzgerald made his first public appearance Monday at city hall. Fitzgerald stood alongside Mayor Catherine Pugh answered questions from the media, and WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi spoke to Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner.

Who is Doctor Ross McNutt?

Nov 19, 2018
https://www.pss-1.com/

Well, for starters, he’s the president of Persistent Surveillance System, a Dayton, Ohio, firm that operates aerial surveillance systems.

Shortly after the Freddie Gray riots in 2015, the city police department used private funds to have Ross McNutt set up an aerial surveillance system. The department didn’t tell the city’s elected leaders. The police squashed the program after a Bloomberg Businessweek article that created a public outcry. Now, Ross McNutt is back, trying to get approval for his plans for a camera-equipped drone and he’s no stranger to trial and error.

Banneker Blake Academy Protests School Closure

Nov 12, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Parents and faculty from Banneker Blake Academy, a charter school in North Baltimore, gathered in front of city school headquarters Monday to protest the threatened closing of the school next January.

School officials say the academy didn’t meet requirements for renewal of its charter, but advocates argue it goes beyond that.

BPD Audit Reveals No Control of Officer Overtime

Oct 24, 2018
Patrick Semansky / AP

This post has been updated.

Baltimore’s Police Department has little, if any way to track and control the amount of overtime its officers work. That’s according to the first phase of a long-delayed audit of police overtime practices.

Mayor Catherine Pugh called for the audit in her state of the city speech in March after federal court revelations of rampant overtime abuse by members of the now disbanded Gun Trace Task Force.

Rachel Baye

Thirty-five-year-old Cory McCray checked his list of registered Democratic voters before climbing each set of porch steps and knocking on each door in a Northeast Baltimore neighborhood on a recent afternoon.

“I’m Cory McCray, your state delegate,” he told a resident who answered her door. “I’m in a very contentious race, so when you go to the ballot in June, I’ll be trying to elevate from delegate to senator, and I’m just hoping and praying to get your consideration.”

McCray said it was his third time knocking on doors in the neighborhood, so he hoped most people there knew who he is.

Baltimore City Health Department

Some state legislators who represent Baltimore in Annapolis are trying to increase state funding for programs designed to prevent gun violence before it happens.  The officials compared gun violence to a contagious disease at a press conference announcing the legislation Monday in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood.

statecenter.org

 

A state-commissioned study released Tuesday offers a list of new, alternative uses for State Center in Midtown Baltimore.

The state office complex has been slated for redevelopment for more than a decade. Community members told a state panel Tuesday afternoon that starting over with new plans disregards what they want for their neighborhoods.

Gilmor Homes faces partial demolition

Jan 10, 2018
baltimorehousing.org

The Baltimore Housing Authority is planning to have the Gilmor Homes public housing community partially demolished by 2019. Gilmor Homes is where Freddie Gray once lived. Last night, Housing Authority officials met with Gilmor Homes residents to lay out their plans. WYPR City Hall reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi talks about it with Nathan Sterner.

Mayor Pugh holds candlelight vigil for victims of violence

Dec 29, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

As Baltimore’s homicide rate reached record proportions—343 murders this year—Mayor Catherine Pugh held a candle light vigil for the victims last night at the War Memorial.

University of Maryland Medical System

Asthma makes it difficult for thousands of Baltimoreans to breathe. Decrepit houses, trash and rodents can trigger asthma flare-ups. Would cleaning up poor housing cost less than frequent trips to the ER? A reporting partnership between Kaiser Health News and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service looked deeply at where asthma flares up in Baltimore and what hospitals are doing about it.

We hear from Kaiser Health News’ senior correspondent Jay Hancock, and from one of the Capital News Service journalists who took part in that project--now a reporter for The Baltimore Sun--Talia Richardson.

Plus, the Breathmobile is run by the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. We speak to Dr. Mary Beth Bollinger, professor pediatrics, is the Breathmobile’s co-founder, and medical director.

More information at these links:

Kaiser Health News story - Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable to Neglect Than Fix

Capital News Service package of asthma stories - Home Sick

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project and the Abell Foundation documents stark difference in asthma hospitalization rates in rich versus poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, and reveals a dramatic drop in the far southern part of the city after a pair of nearby coal-fired power plants installed air pollution control devices in 2009. Asthma hospitalization rates in the zip codes for the Cherry Hill, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay neighborhoods fell 57 percent between 2009 and 2013 – more than twice the drop citywide. 

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Since Governor Larry Hogan has held the Maryland’s highest elected office, Baltimore has seen homicides go through the roof.

In 2015, there were 344 homicides.

2016: 318 homicides.  2017: So far, 323 homicides.

Hogan wants 2018 to show a different story. And for that – he’s got a plan. 

Over the next few weeks, the Baltimore City Police Department consent decree monitor is hosting community engagement forums to develop a monitoring plan. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi attended one at Frederick Douglas High in West Baltimore; she tells Nathan Sterner that the event did not go exactly as expected.

Mary Rose Madden

A Baltimore City Council committee unanimously approved Tuesday a $12 million youth fund for programs throughout the city.

But before that, dozens of community advocates, parents and young people rallied in front of the Penn North Kids Safe Zone, a community center in Sandtown created after the riots following the death of Freddie Gray, and marched to Frederick Douglass High School, where the council's Education and Youth Committee met.

ICE creates chilling effect on restaurant and Latino communities

Jul 14, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Late last month, most of the kitchen staff at The Boathouse walked off the job after immigration agents asked the Canton restaurant’s management for their immigration documents. Some of them have returned to work, but the incident sent a chill through Baltimore’s restaurant and Latino communities.

Alma Cocina Latina is just a few blocks from The Boathouse in Canton. The restaurant’s owner, Irena Stein, says starting her Venezuelan restaurant in Canton wasn’t easy.

Rachel Baye

The Baltimore City Health Department is getting a new $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute – Baltimore to aid in the fight against opioid overdoses, city Health Commissioner Leana Wen announced Monday. The money is slated to pay for real-time alerts about overdose spikes and new community engagement efforts.

Speed Cameras Return to Baltimore City

Jul 5, 2017
Google Maps

Speed cameras are back in Baltimore. An earlier system was shut down in 2013 after it was discovered cameras were issuing speeding tickets to cars that weren’t violating the speed limit. Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the implementation of the new cameras in May and said that she hoped the new camera system would renew Baltimoreans’ confidence and bring revenue to the city.

Below is a map showing where the first seven cameras are. They're all in school zones.

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