Baltimore City | WYPR

Baltimore City

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.”

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Food insecure Baltimoreans can pick up healthy meals at more than 50 designated grab-and-go meal sites throughout the city, and no one will ask for identification or other personal information, city officials say.

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.  

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has suspended some services at of the city’s senior centers and issued recommendations that include cancelling large events through the end of March.

As of Thursday afternoon, Baltimore had no known cases of the novel coronavirus. The recommendations came shortly after Gov. Larry Hogan announced the first of non-travelrelated coronavirus in Maryland on Thursday.  

John Lee

A highly anticipated effort to boost state spending on school construction and renovation projects passed with an overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates Friday. The bill would add $2.2 billion dollars to the state’s existing school construction funding over five years.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


 The country’s largest healthcare worker and property service unions endorsed Brandon Scott for Baltimore City Mayor, Shannon Sneed for City Council President and Bill Henry for City Comptroller on Friday.

 

The Service Employees International Union 1199 and 32BJ cited Scott, Sneed and Henry’s support of a $15 minimum wage for all workers, efforts to expand and protect the right to unionize and their pledges to make Baltimore’s wealthy institutions contribute their “fair share” to community services. 

 

WYPR


  An administrative oversight from Baltimore City Comptroller Joan Pratt led to official greenlighting the sale of 15 city-owned lots to her church for $15, according to a Wednesday report issued by Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming.

 

Pratt is a congregant and board member at Bethel African Methodist Episcopoal Church in West Baltimore’s Upton neighborhood.  She is also one of five members of the Board of Estimates, which governs city spending. She voted for the sale in November 2017. The Office of the Inspector General report called the move a conflict of interest.

 

AP/Keith Srakocic

 

Baltimore residents haven’t received a water bill since early May — and that will remain the case until at least early August, Mayor Jack Young said Wednesday. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Ashley Merson has been scrimping and saving for a house for four years. She paid off her debts, got her credit score up and finally was able to make an offer  on a two-bedroom duplex house in Hampden -- and more than ready to leave her low-income apartment complex, where she, her young son and disabled brother squeeze into a one-bedroom.

But just as she was about to settle on that house, malware attacks on Baltimore City’s computer servers locked up the system, leaving her stuck in the apartment.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Computers in the Baltimore city government have been infected with ransomware, disrupting the city’s technology systems and rendering email and other digital communications unusable.

Hackers behind the ransomware demanded around $75,000 on Tuesday to release their grasp on the network. The incident is the second such attack in just over a year.

City Airbnb Hosts Caught Up in Council Bill

Dec 3, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Airbnbs and other short-term rental properties in Baltimore are liable to start costing a little more under a bill the city council is to vote Monday night. The bill would extend the city’s hotel tax to those properties and limit the number of short term rental properties an individual can operate.

City Sues Trump Administration for "Anti-Immigration" Policy

Nov 28, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore City sued the Trump Administration in federal court Wednesday for changing immigration policy without notice. The policy could have a direct impact on more than 45,000 immigrants and their families living in the city.

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.

Pugh Names New Police Commissioner

Nov 16, 2018
Fort Worth Police, Fort Worth, Texas

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the appointment of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald as Baltimore’s new top cop Friday after a lengthy, secretive search. Fitzgerald arrives with some baggage from his last job.

Word of Fitzgerald’s appointment began leaking Friday afternoon after Pugh penned an op-ed piece to appear in Saturday’s print editions of The Sun. In it, she wrote that Fitzgerald “is best suited to lead the way forward.”

City School Board Votes to Close Banneker Blake Academy

Nov 14, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore City Schools’ board of commissioners voted seven to zero at Tuesday night’s meeting in favor of closing Banneker Blake Academy in north Baltimore. WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi was at the meeting and spoke to Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner about the board's decision.

City Audit Report Finds a Mess at DOT

Oct 31, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore City’s Department of Transportation is in shambles, according to an audit released today.

An audit from the 2016—2017 fiscal year found that the department couldn’t document its claims about the safety of the city’s bridges, nor could it document docking fees at city marinas or keep track of the ridership on the city’s circulator buses.

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.

Police Commissioner Reports Overblown?

Oct 19, 2018
Fort Worth Police

Does Baltimore have a new police commissioner or not? Good question. It seemed like it Friday morning, but things kept shifting all day.

It started Thursday night when the Twitter account, @BmoreProjects, tweeted, "The mayor's pick for Baltimore's next police commissioner #JoelFitzgerald."

A local reporter in Dallas showed the tweet to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and asked if Fitzgerald,the Fort Worth chief, was leaving for Baltimore.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday night to a measure that would create a $20 million trust fund aimed at affordable housing. The vote resolved a debate that erupted last week between council members and housing advocates who feared some amendments would hurt the fund. Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner talks about those amendments and the council meeting with WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi.

Part of BPD Overtime Audit to be Released, says Solicitor

Oct 4, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

  

In February, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she would not release an audit of the police department’s overtime claims because it was part of the evidence in a police union suit against the city. But now, the mayor has changed her mind.

Contract Workers at BWI Attempt to Unionize

Oct 2, 2018
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

Contract employees at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, along with the nation’s largest service workers’ union, called Tuesday afternoon for higher wages and improved health insurance benefits for those workers. This was all part of demonstrations at 11 airports around the country.

BPD on High Alert for Three Days

Oct 1, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

After two city police officers were involved in a shooting more than a week ago and the number of homicides jumped last month, the Baltimore Police Department is going on high alert for three days.

Affordable Housing Trust Fund Riddled with Risk

Sep 28, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh promised during her campaign to put $20 million a year by 2023 into a trust fund to pay for tearing down abandoned housing, creating affordable housing and subsidizing rentals for low income city residents. But critics at a well-attended City Council committee hearing Thursday sharply questioned whether the city would be able to fully fund what the mayor calls an “affordable housing trust fund.” Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner talks with Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi to iron out these concerns.

Opioid Reversals Remain Underreported, say Public Health Experts

Sep 25, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Karen Holliday says she has something in common with Billie Holiday, Baltimore’s famous jazz singer who died in July 1959 from illness related to drug and alcohol abuse, beside the last name.

“Drugs have always been in this family of mine,” says Holliday. “I was the person who slept right there in the park across the street from the War Memorial. I was also a person that used there.”

Three Men Federally Indicted in $364M Ponzi Scheme

Sep 19, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Federal prosecutors in Maryland indicted three men today on charges of bilking more than 400 investors of $364 million in an elaborate Ponzi scheme. The victims were small business owners, professional athletes, doctors and lawyers in Maryland and throughout the nation.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The Baltimore City Council was back in session Monday evening with a long list of new legislation. Morning Edition's Host Nathan Sterner speaks with Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi about what happened.

Closing Time: Baltimore's Battle with Liquor Licenses

Sep 13, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Second of two parts

Shekhar Karki has owned Waverly Tavern, a bar and liquor store in north Baltimore, for four years.

“It’s a good business,” he says. “That is what I thought before starting.”

Suiter's Suicide Shocks Harlem Park Residents

Aug 30, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

When police found Detective Sean Suiter shot dead in Harlem Park last November, they cordoned off the neighborhood as they searched for the shooter. Residents had to show ID to get in or out.

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