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Baltimore City Hall

AP/Patrick Semansky

Baltimore healthcare providers urged city council members to support overdose prevention sites, places where people can use previously purchased drugs under the supervision of healthcare professionals, during a hearing Tuesday.

They said the sites confront the reality that people use drugs and allows them to do so safely.

SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

Activists experiencing homelessness in Baltimore led a march from the Shot Tower to City Hall on Saturday.

They chanted “evictions have got to go” and “cancel rent” and carried signs reading ‘homeless can’t stay home,’ ‘homeless, not hopeless,’ and ‘empty shelters now.“

Their demands included permanent housing for all, rent cancellation and an end to the use of congregate city-funded shelters.

Council President Brandon M. Scott/Facebook

The Baltimore City Council held another virtual meeting last night ---- the penultimate meeting before the next iteration of the council is sworn in. WYPR’s Matt Tacka and Emily Sullivan walk us through what laws they passed and what laws Mayor Jack Young vetoed.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council held a virtual meeting Monday night, where they passed a major tax sale bill and introduced a measure to tax electronic smoking devices. WYPR’s Nathan Sterner and Emily Sullivan walk us through the bills.

SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

On what is still officially Columbus Day in Baltimore, members of the city’s indiginous community rallied in the rain Monday afternoon calling for the renaming of the holiday.

The event was also a celebration of indigenous peoples’ culture, full of music, dancing and prayer. 

Led by Indigenous Strong, the rally came a week after the City Council passed a bill that would rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. But Mayor Jack Young has not signed the bill into law. 

Maureen Harvie/WYPR

In the wake of disgraced ex-mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation, the Baltimore City Council introduced so many charter amendments intended to restructure power in City Hall that City Council President Brandon Scott created a new committee to manage them. 

Many of those proposed amendments made it to the November general election ballots. City voters can find a complete ballot preview here.

 

Voters tend to overwhelmingly approve ballot questions; in 2016, city voters passed all 10 of Baltimore's charter amendments and bond issues.  

 

WYPR

  


  Baltimore’s chief solicitor will recommend the city sever a lucrative contract with a company whose founder, J.P. Grant, illegally funneled $170,000 to disgraced former mayor Catherine Pugh. 

The recommendation comes after an investigation by the city Inspector General found that Grant’s firm, Grant Capital Management, violated campaign finance law and should not have been considered for the contract.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council passed legislation to  provide annual reports on city employee-owned businesses and require owners of vacant properties to conspiciously post ownership information on those buildings on Monday night. They also progressed legislation to rename the Columbus Obelisk monument to honor victims of police brutality, as well as a bill that would establish residency requirements for certain Baltimore Police Department command staff. WYPR's Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner recap the meeting. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


  A new bill before the Baltimore City Council aims to require hospitality businesses to bring back the same employees who were laid off at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as they reopen; hospitality employment is down 50% from last year, compared to 12% for all jobs across the city.

The council’s Labor Committee recessed without voting on the bill after city lawyers said they needed more time to consider a set of amendments during a hearing Thursday. The committee did pass another bill that would require new owners of businesses to retain the same employees for at least 90 days.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Baltimore City’s spending board greenlit a rare $25 million emergency withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund Wednesday to balance a budget that had to be rewritten because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Jack Young’s administration issued the third ever request to dip into the fund after the finance department said it needed the emergency funds to balance the city budget.

 

SCREENSHOT VIA BALTIMORE RENTERS UNITED FACEBOOK PAGE

Housing advocates want to know why Baltimore Mayor Jack Young fired the city’s housing commissioner Michael Braverman last week as renters will soon face a mass eviction crisis. 

“We are here to demand that Mayor Jack Young speaks to the city,” John P. Comer, founder of Architects for Justice, said at a press conference Wednesday morning in front of City Hall. “The concerned citizens who are renting every day and may not know where their next home will be.”

Courts will resume hearing new eviction cases for failure to pay rent on Aug. 31. Comer said homelessness is likely to skyrocket. 

 

“People are losing their homes and evictions are becoming backed up,” he said. 

The Baltimore City Council unanimously overrode Mayor Jack Young’s veto of a charter amendment that would create a city administrator position to oversee day-to-day operations during a special session Thursday night.

That means the amendment and six others will be on city voters’ ballots in November.

 

from livestream

Baltimore community members and grassroots organizers gathered in front of City Hall Thursday afternoon to demand that the city and state do more to protect tenants and those experiencing homelessness. 

Speakers included residents who spoke of their experiences living in local homeless shelters amid the coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic). They also read original poems and presented artwork. 

 

Mayor Jack Young launched a $13 million pandemic rental assistance program on Wednesday, and Gov. Larry Hogan announced a $30 million fund to prevent evictions last Friday. But advocates say that this is not enough.

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/PATRICK SEMANSKY

  


  When Baltimore’s budget director Bob Cenname presented the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget in late March, he called it “largely irrelevant.” 

That’s because the coronavirus pandemic had dealt an enormous blow to the city’s revenue stream, a loss of $103 million. With fewer people driving, working and traveling, the city is collecting less in taxes.

The budget, which is traditionally written over the course of a year, was completely rewritten in  April. On Wednesday, Cenname and his staff presented the revised budget, which accounts for the revenue loss and proposes trimmed spending across agencies.

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.

 

AP/Patrick Semansky

The Baltimore City Board of Ethics’ plays a multifaceted role: it sets ethical standards for elected officials, keeps track of lobbyists and financial disclosures and is supposed to help guide City Hall employees away from unsavory influences.

But it’s also, according to many City Council members, woefully understaffed. The last time the Board of Ethics submitted an annual report, which demonstrates both an agency’s accomplishments and financial needs, was 2014. 

Maureen Harvie/WYPR

Playing a game of tag or tossing a ball on the streets of Baltimore is, thanks to current city laws, illegal. A new City Hall measure introduced by Councilman Ryan Dorsey is trying to change that.

Section 50-41 of Article 19 of the City Code makes it unlawful for any person to “play ball, fly a kite or throw a stone or other object or missile while in any street, alley, lane or other public thoroughfare” in Baltimore. Doing so could land you a misdemeanor and a $50 fine, thanks to another part of city code.

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.

nickjmosby.com

Delegate Nick Mosby formally launched his campaign for Baltimore City Council President on Tuesday. 

In a campaign video, the Democrat highlighted his experience at City Hall as a former councilman and in the House of Delegates in Annapolis.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council approved Monday a bill to establish public campaign financing for candidates running for city offices. The Fair Election Fund would distribute matching funds to candidates who agree not to accept individual donations larger than $150 or donations from corporations, unions and PACS.

The fund’s proponents say it will give candidates who don’t receive hefty checks from corporations a fighting chance as well as boost the impact of donations from Baltimore City constituents.

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.

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.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Host Nathan Sterner talks to City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi about legislation to provide a $2500 property tax credit to public safety officers that reside in Baltimore City. Council President Jack Young and District 11 Councilman Eric Costello proposed the bill as incentive for more public safety officers to reside within Baltimore City lines. Currently 23 percent of police officers, 30 percent of firefighters, and 53 percent of sheriffs reside in the city.