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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday due to complications from longstanding health challenges. He was 68.

Tributes and remembrances have been pouring in since the news broke that Cummings passed, and WYPR is remembering our interviews with the longtime Democratic congressman. 

Howard County Library System via Flickr

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.

 

A sharecropper's son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.

 

 

As Climate Changes, Scientists Re-Think Phragmites

Oct 17, 2019
Pamela D'Angelo

If you visit the tiny Virginia town of Saxis, just across Pocomoke Sound from Crisfield, Maryland, you’ll be greeted by fields of bobbing, feathery heads of 10-foot phragmites.

The tall reed launched its invasion of the Chesapeake Bay centuries ago when the plants hitched a ride across the Atlantic with the first European colonists. And for the most part, it’s been seen as a pesky plant that clogged wetlands and waterways, taking over the habitat of native plants.

Pamela D'Angelo

The wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay are nurseries for blue crabs, striped bass, menhaden and other important species. The variety of plants in them absorbs pollutants like nitrogen that run off city streets and farm fields.

And they protect properties from flooding by stabilizing shorelines and absorbing storm water.

Rachel Baye

A state panel has proposed a highly anticipated revamp of the formula Maryland uses to fund public schools. The new formula would facilitate a major overhaul of public education in the state that would eventually increase spending on schools by roughly $4 billion a year.

The formula gradually increases the state’s share of education costs so that in the year 2030, the state would spend an additional $2.8 billion. Local jurisdictions would be on the hook for the remaining $1.2 billion.

AP Photo/Matt Houston

More details emerged Monday night on the campaign to win approval of the $375 million deal to shore up Maryland’s horse racing industry. It would include renovations at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and the track at Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County.

As the clock ran down at the end of last week’s fifth and deciding game of the WNBA Finals, the one that brought a championship to the Washington Mystics for the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise, I got well, a little misty.

With a couple of exceptions, I don’t know any of the players. I didn’t go to any games this year, and I haven’t been to a Mystics game in at least five years.

Stevenson University College Republicans/Facebook

  

What is driving climate change? According to a recent Goucher poll, your answer to that question has a lot to do with whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.

 

You need to look no further than Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District to hear the political divide over the science that humans are mostly to blame for what is happening to the climate.

 

 

Keeping Cuban Music Alive

Oct 11, 2019
Tom Flynn

Tracing the musical history of Santiago and all of eastern Cuba is like finding a treasure chest in which the traditional roots of the music still shine like gold nuggets.

Rodolfo Vaillant, head of the city’s musician’s union, says the traditional music became the source for most of the Latin music that we hear today.

Tom Flynn

Santiago, Cuba, Oriente Province, is five hours by plane from BWI, via Miami, but centuries away in time. Horse carts clop around town and roosters rule from rooftops on every block of the old city.  And there’s music in the streets in late July.

That’s because the folks in this town, the capitol of this Spanish colony since 1522, are getting ready for the traditional summer Carnival. The final parade of the Carnival takes place July 26, the date of Fidel Castro’s attack on the Moncado Barracks that marks the start of the 1953 revolution.

Baltimore County

It soon will be legal to play live music in Catonsville and Arbutus.

 

The Baltimore County Council Monday night unanimously approved legislation to allow establishments in those towns to have live music. 

 

 

Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun

A longtime member of the House of Delegates from Prince George’s County, Tawanna Gaines, has been charged with federal wire fraud. Gaines resigned from the legislature on Friday.

Prosecutors say Gaines collected more than $22,000 from campaign supporters in a PayPal account, then used that money on personal expenses. Gaines did not disclose the PayPal account in state campaign finance records.

There’s an axiom that goes freedom of speech isn’t free. Daryl Morey may learn that lesson the hard way.

Morey, the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, has, heretofore, been best known for bringing analytics to professional basketball management.

That, and blowing up his roster on occasion when he perceives the need, as in this past offseason, when Morey gambled Houston’s future by dealing away multiple first round picks to Oklahoma City for mercurial guard Russell Westbrook.

John Lee

The Baltimore County Council is expected to vote Monday night on whether it will sue Monsanto Company for contaminating the county’s environment with Polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs.

 

WYPR’s Baltimore County reporter John Lee and Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner hashed out the details.

 

 

John Lee

 

 

Controversial legislation that would ban landlords in Baltimore County from rejecting someone because they are using a housing voucher, commonly called section 8, is to be introduced next week at the County Council. 

 

The so-called “source of income discrimination legislation” was soundly defeated when it last went before the council three years ago.

 

 

Baltimore City Hall

City Councilwoman Shannon Snead has joined fellow council member Leon Pinkett in the Democratic primary race to be Baltimore’s next City Council President and drive city legislation.

The freshman councilwoman announced her run for the office on Thursday.

John Lee

It appears the live music ban in Catonsville and Arbutus will be lifted. 

 

Following a public hearing Tuesday, The Baltimore County Council is poised to make a change in zoning law to let songs fill the air legally in those two towns.

 

 

Dundalk Dynasty

  

This past weekend, congressmen returned home to their districts following a tumultuous week in Washington. 

 

But when Dutch Ruppersberger made his first stop in his congressional district, in Dundalk in Eastern Baltimore County, people he talked to had something other than the impeachment inquiry against President Trump on their minds.

 

 

The Orioles began the 2019 season winning two of three against the Toronto Blue Jays. They closed the season winning two of three against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

In between, they did a whole lot of losing, dropping more than 100 games for a second straight year.

That’s the first time that’s happened in the 65 seasons the club has been here in Baltimore, and there’s precious little we saw this year to suggest that next year won’t be a third.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The Baltimore City Council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development committee approved on Thursday a measure that would create several programs and offices to make low income residents’ water bills more affordable. 

The committee passed the Water Accountability & Equity Act without of the 14 pages of amendments that Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow submitted less than a half hour before the meeting, which was supposed to be the last committee work session on the bill.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

It’s been months of uncertainty for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and all those who worry about the future of the city's cultural icon. But after a 14-week labor dispute, the musicians and orchestra management announced a one-year contract Monday.

John Lee

Catonsville in Baltimore County is home to several well-known music stores. The town takes pride in calling itself “Music City Maryland.”  

 

But that moniker falls a bit flat because currently it’s illegal for bars and restaurants along the town’s main drag to have live music.

 

 

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.  

 

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

They came in the rain, soaked from head to foot: some with face paint dripping down, some dressed in matching jumpsuits or some,  just in simple t-shirts and shorts. And they came with their toilet bowl race cars - yes, toilet bowl race cars...exquisitely engineered to roll down Chestnut Ave. in Hampden one after another, like a parade displaying Baltimore’s sense of humor.

Twenty-three pilots boarded their homemade toilet bowl vessels and zoomed down the street while crowds dressed in rain gear and carrying umbrellas cheered them on.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

 

Jerlene Boyd has lived in the west Baltimore neighborhood of Boyd-Booth since JFK was president.. One of the greatest scourges the neighborhood has ever faced, the 80-year-old says, is the “real eyesore and nose sore” of illegal dumping in vacant lots. 

Now, a lot at 50 S. Pulaski St. once infamously known as a ground for dumping has been transformed into a lush green space – big, bright and welcoming, with a smatter of trees.

John Lee

 

 

Farmers live a gambler’s life. And with climate change, the odds for farmers are changing. The state is trying to help farmers plan for what the changing climate holds for Maryland’s largest commercial industry. 

 

But while some farmers are looking to go on the offensive against climate change, others are just trying to make it to tomorrow.

 

 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Cokie Roberts, veteran journalist and 'a founding mother of NPR,' died on Tuesday. She was 75. Tributes and remembrances have been pouring in over the past 24 hours and we wanted to share WYPR interviews with the beloved journalist and writer.

Collegiate athletes in California are one step closer to gaining a piece of financial freedom, now that a bill giving them the right to profit from their image and likeness has cleared the state legislature.

And, more importantly, the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, seems one step from realizing that young people don’t sacrifice their right to control their own destiny at the cost of a scholarship.

Too bad that recognition will almost certainly come not with enlightenment or social advancement, but with probable litigation that will only delay the inevitable.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Mayor Jack Young signed an executive order on Friday that bans the use of gag orders in “unreasonable” city settlements, a move that an ACLU lawyer called a “complete sham that accomplishes precisely nothing.”

David Rocah, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said the order was meant to distract from a city council bill that would permanently end the practice. 

Baltimore City Hall

 

After months of speculation, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott has officially entered the 2020 mayoral race, becoming the first elected official to do so.

 

The 35-year-old announced his campaign in north Baltimore on Friday morning, surrounded by family members and a group of leaders from the second district, which he represented as a councilman, as well as other city leaders.

 

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