WYPR News | WYPR

WYPR News

News coverage, series and commentary from WYPR's award winning news staff.
WYPR Election Coverage

Lexington Market Due for an Overhaul

May 30, 2019
Tom Flynn

Baltimore’s Lexington Market has been around since before George Washington took office as the first President. And it remains one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the world.

But it has fallen on hard times and the city is about to launch a $40 million redevelopment project that would make Lexington Street a pedestrian mall and put a new market building on what is now a parking lot.

Baltimore County

The nominee to be Baltimore County’s next police chief served more than 20 years in the Baltimore Police Department. And it was Melissa Hyatt’s time in a police force rife with corruption that got the most attention from the county council, as it quizzed her Tuesday afternoon about becoming the county’s top cop. 

 

 

Baltimore Police Department

Jemell Rayam, a former Baltimore cop caught up in the Gun Trace Task Force scandal, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday.

He was the last of eight officers from that disbanded unit to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake.

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed eight bills passed by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly and will let hundreds of others become law without his signature, his office announced Friday. 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

“Excruciating,” “trying,” “the most difficult in recent memory” — that’s how Baltimore County Council members described the process of finalizing the $3.43 billion budget they passed Thursday morning.

The budget for the next fiscal year included the first income tax hike in more than a generation and other tax increases in an attempt to close an $81 million county deficit.

Karen Hosler

As the rest of the country obsesses about the 2020 national elections, some folks in Annapolis are facing a more immediately pressing issue; filling the city council seat vacated by Shaneka Henson when she was sworn in to the House of Delegates seat long held by the late Speaker Michael Busch.

City officials have set a special election for July 2, but things aren’t going very well.

A Resilient Chesapeake

May 22, 2019
Creative Commons

Despite record rainfall washing pollution and debris into the Chesapeake Bay last year, the bay’s health continues to improve.

Sure, it took a little dip from its 2017 score, say scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, but it still maintained an overall “C,” which the scientists say is a sign of resilience in the nation’s largest estuary.

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.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

 

There's no way around it. Tax hikes are coming to Baltimore County. But the specifics are still being worked out days before the Baltimore County Council is set to vote on them.

 

 

Baltimore Teachers Union

The president of the Baltimore Teachers Union has formally challenged the results of this week’s election, which she lost by 62 votes.

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.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

 

 

Baltimore County Council meetings are usually civil affairs. But Thursday afternoon’s meeting broke out in to partisan warfare over the proposed county budget. It was a classic fight over tax hikes, new schools and budget cuts.

 

 

Cindy Shebley via Flickr

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has charged seven members of the Sackler family, who control the drug maker Purdue Pharma, with violating the state Consumer Protection Act by allegedly deceiving patients and prescribers about the dangers and efficacy of taking opioids to treat chronic pain.

John Lee

 

 

Baltimore County has the second highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in the state. Only Baltimore City has more. The county will begin reaching out to people, especially those who have personally been affected by opioids, to ask them what should be done.

 

 

Shaneka Henson

Shaneka Henson was sworn in on Thursday to the Maryland House of Delegates, where she occupies the seat held by House Speaker Michael Busch until he died last month. Henson is the first African American woman to represent the district in the General Assembly.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

 

  This post has been updated.

Diamonte Brown, a Booker T. Washington Middle School teacher, has narrowly defeated long-time Baltimore Teachers Union president Marietta English in one of the most contentious union elections in recent memory.

Preliminary figures released by the union last night showed Brown, who led a group calling itself The Union We Deserve, with 901 votes to English’s 839. The cursory release said English would be challenging the results.

The election was marked with charges and counter charges of foul play.

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.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

The Baltimore County Council has a little more than a week to decide whether to go along with tax increases being proposed by County Executive Johnny Olszewski. The county executive says the money raised is needed to deal with an $81 million shortfall, as well as fund new initiatives. 

 

The Council and Olszewski are considering changes on two proposals: a cell phone tax and impact fees on developers.

 

 

Baltimore Police Department

Heather Cook, the former Episcopal bishop who struck and killed a bicyclist while driving drunk and texting more than four years ago, was released from prison Tuesday.

Cook, who was the second-highest-ranking Episcopal leader in Maryland, served a little more than half the seven-year sentence she received for the death of Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old father of two who was bicycling on Roland Avenue two days after Christmas 2014.

Tom Flynn

Three students at the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus—all wearing Muslim head scarves, or hijab--were taking photos on campus for a class project one Saturday afternoon in March when two campus police cars rolled up.

Emily Sullivan

Bernard C. “Jack” Young was formally sworn in as Baltimore’s 51st mayor Thursday afternoon, finalizing the passage of power that began when former mayor Catherine Pugh began a leave of absence in April. 

 

The swearing-in ceremony was not technically necessary -- Young officially entered the mayor’s office after Catherine Pugh resigned amid scandal one week ago. Instead, as Young and his team say, the ceremonial event at the War Memorial across from City Hall was meant to acknowledge the pain the city felt from Pugh’s scandal and to look ahead to a more stable future.

 

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.

Baltimore City Hall

City Councilman Brandon Scott has been unanimously elected as Council President by his colleagues after four days of leadership upheaval following the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Scott and Sharon Green Middleton, the council vice president who had been filling in as president, had been tied in colleagues’ pledges for votes over the weekend, until Scott own over a few more members, including veteran councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County, facing overcrowded schools and congested roads, is considering charging developers impact fees. It’s a way to raise money to spend on the problems that developments create.

 

The Baltimore County Council is looking at dueling plans that differ on how the money would be spent.

 

 

Patrick Semansky/AP

Weeks after she was accused of self-dealing, a month after she took a paid leave of absence for her health and just days after FBI and IRS raids, Catherine Pugh has resigned as mayor of Baltimore.

Speaking at a press conference in his downtown Baltimore office, her lawyer Steven Silverman read statement from Pugh. The 96-second long resignation letter read in part:

“I'm sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor. Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward."

What to do About the Dwindling Rockfish Population

May 2, 2019
ASMFC

The population of striped bass, better known as rockfish, is dwindling. And that has alarmed Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commissioners so much they have drawn up a plan to cut back landings throughout coastal fisheries, including the Chesapeake Bay.

The fisheries managers caution the situation is not as dire as it was in 1985, when Maryland imposed a fishing ban, but that they want to give states from Maine to Florida options.

State of Maryland

The Maryland House of Delegates set two historic precedents Wednesday, when it selected Baltimore County Delegate Adrienne Jones to be Speaker of the House.

Jones is the first woman, and first African American to become speaker, one of the most powerful political positions in the state.

Baltimore County Police Department

A Baltimore County jury Wednesday found a teenager guilty of felony murder in the death last May of police officer Amy Caprio.

Dawnta Harris, who is now 17, was tried as an adult. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

John Lee

 

Taxes, whether to raise them or not, drove Tuesday night’s budget public hearing before the Baltimore County Council.

 

County Executive Johnny Olszewski is proposing a package of tax increases to help deal with an $81 million shortfall and pay for initiatives like a pay raise for teachers. WYPR’s John Lee was there and talked about it with Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner.

 

 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

 

Last night, the city council introduced a package of charter amendments that would bolster its power throughout the city -- and over the mayor. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan joins Nathan Sterner to explain the proposed changes and their timeline.

 

Pages