Baltimore City | WYPR

Baltimore City

AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

Renters in Baltimore City who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic can receive financial assistance under a $13 million renter relief program launched Wednesday.

Baltimore has a moratorium on evictions scheduled to expire on July 25. The program aims to prevent a wave of evictions by getting residents up to date on rent from April, May and June by sending rental payments directly to landlords. 

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

  


  Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is due to report to an Alabama prison on Friday, four months after she was sentenced to three years in federal prison for conspiracy and tax evasion in the Health Holly scandal.

Pugh was originally scheduled to report for her sentence in mid-April, but the Democrat received a delay as the coronavirus pandemic escalated and prison officials throughout the country scrambled to adjust to the highly contagious virus.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


  The Baltimore City Department of Public Works’ top official said Tuesday that stalled trash pickup services will soon improve as 112 employees return to work, after the agency suspended operations at a facility with cases of COVID-19 earlier this month.

“We understand and share residents’ frustrations,” Acting Director Martthew Garbark said during a news conference. “We did the right thing by quarantining workers to protect their families, their coworkers and everyone else.”

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

It’s been almost two weeks since Baltimore’s Department of Public Works shut down its curbside recycling program and limited trash collection because of an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Eastern Sanitation Yard on Bowleys Lane.

In the meantime, some Baltimoreans have been taking trash into their own hands. 

Charm City TV

Mayor Jack Young announced today that Baltimore City will enter Phase 2 of re-opening from coronavirus shutdown at 5 p.m. Friday. Religious facilities could re-open for indoor services at 50 percent of capacity, he said, as well as restaurants, bars, gyms and retail stores.

Childcare facilities and camps are allowed to operate with up to 15 individuals per classroom.

His announcement comes a week after Gov. Larry Hogan announced similar changes.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Brandon Scott, Baltimore City’s Democratic mayoral primary winner, delivered his acceptance speech outside of his grandmother’s brick row house on Loyola Northway in Park Heights on Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by family.

“Our campaign was about proving to the world that a young black man who grew up in the forgotten Baltimore here in Park Heights could survive everything that you have to live through in Baltimore: the gun violence, underfunded schools living in neighborhoods where vacant homes live in areas where you know that you are not going to be recognized even as human by your own city government,” he said. “That somebody could survive all of that to be the leader of this city.”

 

Photo Courtesy City Health Dept.

One of the key elements in reopening plans, across counties or states, is to increase contact tracing to determine if people infected with COVID-19 may have exposed others to the virus. Maryland employs about 1,400 contact tracers so far, and it is looking to hire more. Last week, Mayor Jack Young announced the new Baltimore Health Corps, which will employ nearly 300 people as contact tracers.  

To tell us more about that program and other aspects of COVID-19 in the city, including testing, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa joins Tom for another installment of Midday with Tish the Commish. Dr. Dzirasa is the health commissioner of Baltimore City.

If you are interested in applying for one of the 300 new jobs with the Baltimore Health Corps, click here for more information. The jobs include training and do not require previous public health experience.

COURTESY OF SCOTT CAMPAIGN

City Council President Brandon Scott claimed victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary for Baltimore’s mayor, as the latest batch of election results brought the gap between him and former mayor Sheila Dixon to 1.7%.

“Tonight, we celebrate a hard-fought victory for the future of Baltimore,” Scott said in a statement. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank my family, my team, our volunteers, those who voted for a new way forward for Baltimore, and everyone who believes change is not just possible, but long overdue.”

COURTESY OF HENRY CAMPAIGN

Though ballots are still being counted in the Baltimore primary elections, City Councilman Bill Henry declared victory in the Democratic race for comptroller Monday night, after amassing more votes than longtime incumbent Joan Pratt can catch up to.

The upset marks the first time that someone new will serve as Baltimore’s chief fiscal watchdog since Pratt was first elected to the office in 1995.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  


  City Council President Brandon Scott has overtaken former mayor Sheila Dixon in the Baltimore City Democratic mayoral election by just 388 votes.

Up until a Sunday night voting count update, Dixon had maintained an edge over Scott in a crowded competition that was dramatically shaped by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest sweeping over Baltimore and the rest of the U.S. in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. 

AP Photo/Brian Witte


A day after the polls closed, there are no final results for the highly anticipated Baltimore City Democratic primaries, due to balloting issues and unanswered questions from the state and city elections boards – including a printing error that rendered ballots for the 1st council district unreadable. 

Incomplete in-person vote totals published Wednesday morning reflect earlier mail-in only data: 

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon’s lead holds at about 30% of the vote. City Council President Brandon Scott has 24% and former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller has 17%.

AP Photo/Brian Witte


It was a very long Tuesday night for voters and candidates alike in Baltimore and across the state, after Marylanders headed to the polls to cast ballots in statewide primaries. In  Baltimore, voters chose their picks in three powerful citywide races. But because of issues with Maryland’s mail-in voting system, there are no firm results for those races just yet. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan talks to Nathan Sterner about what we know — and what we don't.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

This weekend, demonstrators in Baltimore City joined thousands who took to the streets in cities large and small across the nation protesting the killing of George Floyd. In Baltimore, many of those who want justice for Floyd – a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes – expressed open wounds left by the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police five years ago. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan reports. 

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.” 

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/Patrick Semansky

  


  Only about a fifth of likely Baltimore voters think the city is moving in the right direction, while 65 percent believe the opposite, according to a new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

That may explain why two of the top three mayor’s race candidates, Mary Miller and Brandon Scott, are polling so well, said Roger Hartley, the dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.

The numbers add to “the mantra that voters are looking for a fresh new face,” Hartley said. “With someone like Miller surging or someone like Brandon Scott, who's still doing well and has increased his support, they are those fresh new faces.”

Courtesy of the candidates' campaigns

A new poll from WYPR, The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore shows Del. Nick Mosby, former councilman Carl Stokes and councilwoman Shannon Sneed packed tightly together in the Baltimore City council president Democratic primary race, and Comptroller Joan Pratt with a slight edge over councilman Bill Henry in an unprecedentedly heated race for comptroller.   

Jose Luis Magana/AP

The coronavirus pandemic has made many states declare mail-in only primary elections this spring in order to promote social distancing, Maryland among them. A new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore found that a large majority of voters say the mail-in election will not affect their decision to vote and that most voters trust the mail-in elections process as much as they trust standard elections.

“You have a totally different type of election,” said Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs. “It's not getting people to turn out on Election Day. It's not having a union pick up supporters or a church pick up supporters and drive them to the polls.”

AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

  Ballots addressed to Baltimore City voters were not mailed until at least last Thursday, a full week later than planned and long after ballots were sent to other registered voters across Maryland.

A statement from the Maryland Board of Elections on Sunday said that the June 2 primary mail-in ballots for Baltimore City voters are now expected to arrive by May 23. The board had originally said that Baltimoreans could expect ballots from early to mid-May.  

 

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.

Courtesy of Miller for Mayor

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Mary Miller, one six Democrats considered leaders in the race for mayor. 

This is Ms. Miller’s first run for political office. After a long career at T Rowe Price, she was appointed by President Obama to top jobs at the Treasury Department. She was the first woman to serve as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.   For the last few years, she has been a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University 21st Century Cities Initiative. 

A reminder that the primary is being conducted primarily by mail. If you are a registered voter, you should be receiving your ballot soon. Remember that the ballot has to be signed and postmarked by June 2. If you are not yet registered to vote, there’s still time. The deadline to register is May 27. For more information about how to register to vote, click here.

AP/Patrick Semansky

A Baltimore City Council bill to prevent landlords from increasing rent during declared emergencies passed Monday night. More than half of Baltimoreans rent their homes. 

The bill, called the Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, was first introduced by City Council President Brandon Scott in late April. 

The bill prohibits landlords from raising rent during the ongoing state of emergency and retroactively cancels rent increases that have gone into effect after March 5. 

SCREENSHOT VIA EMILY SULLIVAN, KWEISI MFUME CAMPAIGN

Democrat Kweisi Mfume won Tuesday's election to carry out the rest of the late Elijah Cummings’ term in Congress, clinching a seat he held over a decade before leaving to lead the NAACP in 1996.

“I hold myself out to you this evening, willing and wanting to listen to you, to work with you, to build with you, to share with you,” Mfume said during a victory speech Tuesday night streamed live on Facebook. 

AP/Mark Lennihan

Restaurants throughout Maryland are still open, but operating only as carry-out establishments under emergency orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning many residents are turning to delivery apps to bring meals to their door. 

The problem, some restaurant workers say, is that the fees the delivery services charge greatly reduce the already razor-thin margins that most restaurants skate by on. 

Patrick Semansky / AP

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced Wednesday the city’s new tax sale date. It will be July 20 instead of the originally scheduled date of May 18.  

Under the mayor’s order, thousands of homeowners whose properties are on the city’s tax sale list now have until June 30th to pay down their tax bills and get the properties off that list. The original date was April 30. Once that date passes, however, the city won’t accept any more payments, says Amy Hennen of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.  

Heidi Sheppard/WYPR

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young closed city playgrounds in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic last month, but residents continued to visit them and use park exercise equipment.

On Monday, he ordered new measures to secure park equipment so residents are more inclined to stay away.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which oversees state prisons and jails and parole and probation services, has confirmed that 17 people have tested positive for COVID-19, including three inmates and four correctional officers.

Advocates have warned that prisons, jails and other detention facilities are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. They are pushing for some inmates to be released early to prevent a widespread outbreak, which could strain an already overburdened healthcare system.

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.

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Campaign headquarters are usually filled with the nonstop motion of excited volunteers and harried election staff. But on a recent Sunday, Shannon Sneed, who’s running for city council president, sat alone at her headquarters’ conference table, making calls to voters as campaign volunteers and staffers followed suit in their own homes.

Under the novel coronavirus pandemic, the nature of local campaigning has changed: On any other sunny weekend afternoon, the freshman city council member and her team would have been knocking on doors throughout the city to connect with voters. Instead, Sneed and every other candidate in major city races have cancelled the usual barrage of rallies, fundraisers and door-knocking outings in order to limit the spread of the virus. 

Maryland State Department of Labor

 


   About 3.3 million Americans, including 42,000 Marylanders, filed for unemployment benefits last week, surpassing the previous record from 1982 by more than four-and-half times. 

 

The Labor Department's data from last week is one of the first official signs of how many people are suddenly out of work: last week’s claims are nearly five times the amount of those at the peak of the Great Recession, according to NPR.

 

“Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. “States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services.”

Pages