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WYPR Election Coverage

John Lee

Bees are being wiped out. And area beekeepers are pointing the finger at pesticides as a major reason why.

The beekeepers are looking for help from the Maryland legislature, and from you, as you begin plotting your plans for your lawn and garden this spring.

Rachel Baye

The farm in Delmar where April Ferrell grew up and still lives is surrounded by chicken farms. 

Sitting on a golf cart in her yard, Ferrell indicated the lot next door, where she said her parents built two small chicken houses in the 1980s. Then she pointed in the other direction, across the street, where four newer, 600-foot-long chicken houses were visible.

According to data from the Maryland Department of the Environment, that farm across the street — what’s known as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO — has about 47,000 chickens at a time. 

CREDIT NICKJMOSBY.COM

Almost 40% of Democratic primary voters say they’re unsure who they’ll pick to become the next Baltimore City Council President. But among those who say they have decided, Delegate Nick Mosby has a nine-point advantage, a new poll released by WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore finds. 

Mosby enjoyed 26% support in the poll, followed by former City Councilman Carl Stokes with 17%.

Jamyla Krempel / WYPR

A new WYPR, The Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore poll finds Shelia Dixon narrowly ahead in the crowded Democratic Baltimore mayoral primary, and Delegate Nick Mosby leading the City Council President race. The poll results show a large pool of undecided voters in both races.

WYPR

As the race for Baltimore City Comptroller heats up, incumbent Joan Pratt says she knew nothing of the $20,000 federal prosecutors say former Mayor Catherine Pugh laundered through the Pigtown store the women co-owned.

“I was not the accountant. I was not the bookkeeper. I was not a check signer. I did not deposit checks,” Pratt said during an appearance Wednesday on WYPR’s Midday.

About two-thirds of likely Baltimore voters say they believe a lot of politicians are involved in schemes like former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” scandal, but “just don’t get caught,” a new WYPR, Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore poll finds.

The voters were asked, “Is what former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh did worse than what other elected officials do, or do a lot of them do similar things but just don't get caught?” Sixty seven percent said other politicians do similar things.

The race to win the Democratic primary for Baltimore City mayor is defined by a large pool of undecided voters, with former mayor Shelia Dixon enjoying a small lead, followed by Brandon Scott and Thiru Vignarajah, according to a new poll from WYPR, The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

Mary Rose Madden

A Baltimore Circuit Judge sentenced Keith Davis Jr. to the maximum 50 years in prison Monday for the 2015 murder of Kevin Jones, a Pimlico Security guard.

Davis was arrested in a garage after being shot by police, who recovered a gun that was used in the murder earlier that day of Jones, the security guard.

John Lee

Baltimore County law allows developers to build homes and apartments near crowded schools. 

School advocates and some officials want to reshuffle the deck they say is stacked in favor of developers.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh will face three years in a to-be-determined federal prison after she pleaded guilty last year to four federal charges including tax fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow adjourned Pugh’s sentencing hearing Thursday without setting a date for the former mayor to report. But she said it must be no later than April 13.

Patrick Semansky / AP

The sentencing hearing for Keith Davis Jr., convicted in the 2015 murder of a Pimlico security guard, was interrupted Friday after Davis’ lawyer moved for a new trial.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Sylvester Cox said he would reconvene on Monday in the politically charged case.

Davis lawyer, Deborah Levi, argued that Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Seidel, who prosecuted the case, manipulated evidence in his closing argument and denigrated her client by referring to him as “Mr. Howard County” who doesn’t belong in Baltimore."

She said jurors were "enflamed with the passion to protect their community.”

Davis was convicted last summer of second degree murder in the death of Kevin Jones, the Pimlico security guard, after five trials,  four of which were for the murder. One observer said his trials took numerous "strange turns." 

Davis’ story begins soon after Freddie Gray’s story ends.

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday, capping off a self-dealing scandal that was first brought to light in March of last year.

The Democrat, who turns 70 next week, confirmed that the fraudulent selling of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children's books amounted to a federal charges last year, when she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of tax evasion.

Wikimedia Commons

A 13-year-old boy in the custody of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services was admitted to an inpatient psychiatric hospital in September 2018. About two weeks later, an administrative law judge ruled that there was no medical reason for him to stay there. But Social Services didn’t pick him up for nearly four more months.

A similar thing happened to a 14-year-old boy in the custody of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services in October 2018 and to a 14-year-old girl in the custody of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services in January 2019, according to data provided by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, which represents children in this situation,

And there are dozens more children in Maryland’s foster care system with similar stories. They spend weeks, sometimes months, in psychiatric hospitals after doctors and even judges say they no longer need to be there because local Department of Social Services, or DSS, workers say they have nowhere else for them to go.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File

A plan to redevelop the historic Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore and Laurel Park racetrack in Anne Arundel County is making its way through the General Assembly. One of the main objectives of the plan is to keep the nearly 150-year-old Preakness Stakes horse race in Baltimore.

AP/Patrick Semansky

The Baltimore City Council met for the last time this month on Monday night. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner discuss a charter amendment to change the makeup of city council, an ordinance that would require the city to abide by state recordkeeping standards, the repeal of a portion of city code that bans play in the streets and changes at the Board of Ethics.

John Lee

The fractured Baltimore County School Board’s inability to elect a chairman and vice chairman is now an issue before the Maryland General Assembly.

In December, both chair Kathleen Causey and vice chair Julie Henn seemingly lost elections to be reappointed the board’s leaders by six to five votes. However, both remain in place as de facto chair and vice chair. The reason is you need seven votes to be appointed. The vote was complicated by the death in October of board member Roger Hayden.

Now Democratic Delegate Eric Ebersole is introducing legislation that would allow future votes to be decided by a simple majority.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of this week attacking the Democrat-led General Assembly for not advancing his bills aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore. On Thursday, Democratic leaders fought back.

Hogan’s latest comments came during a press conference Thursday. He accused legislators of ignoring a “crisis” in Baltimore by not voting his crime package out of committee.

Pamela D'Angelo

Nannette Smith was just a kid when she broke the color barrier at a previously all-white elementary school in Baltimore. And that experience led her to Howard University and life as an activist in what then was the nascent civil rights movement.

“I desegregated the schools in Baltimore when I was in the fourth grade, nine years old,” she said. “And when I finished high school my dad wanted me to apply to Radcliffe and I said, “No. I do not want to go to another predominantly white school. I'm not going, I'm not going to apply and you can't make me.”

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers have proposed a new sales tax on professional services as a way to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s recommended school system overhaul.

Under the bill introduced Thursday, services ranging from lawyers to contractors to haircuts would be taxed at 5%. The existing sales tax on tangible goods would be cut from 6% to 5%.

Julio Cortez / AP

Maryland’s gubernatorial campaigns are increasingly being funded by corporate interests and out-of-state donors, according to a report released Wednesday by the advocacy group Maryland PIRG.

John Lee

People who live in Turner Station, a historically African American community in southeastern Baltimore County, say they just don’t trust the police department. That comes from years of seeing black people treated unfairly by the police.

But at the same time, they also say they need help with a growing crime problem.

Mia Jeffries told a recent community meeting in Dundalk she and her daughter were pulled over for speeding one night, and that led to her being tased, her daughter being pepper sprayed and both of them being locked up.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The man who allegedly punched City Council President Brandon Scott has filed his own police report, alleging it was instead Scott who assaulted him during an altercation before a mayoral forum earlier this month.  

Through a spokeswoman, Scott categorically denied the allegations. 

John Lee

It might sound mundane, but a proposal to change the start time of one of its meetings sparked weeks of debates and arguments behind closed doors by the usually mild mannered Baltimore County Council.

Aaron Henkin/WYPR

State and city officials broke ground Tuesday on a project to revamp the historic Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore.

The country’s oldest continually operating public market has seen several revamps over the last few decades. This project, which drew on input and financial assistance from the community, private sector and state and city governments, will replace the market’s south parking lot with a modern warehouse-style building that will host 50 to 60 food vendors, old and new. 

John Lee

The Maryland Department of the Environment in April will begin notifying downstream localities about plans for wastewater discharge permits.

This is a direct result of last year’s controversy over plans by a Harford County mega church to build a wastewater treatment plant that would have discharged into Little Gunpowder Falls, according to Baltimore County Delegate Dana Stein.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers began work Monday on a highly anticipated package of sweeping education reforms that reflects recommendations by the Kirwan Commission. Hundreds of teachers, activists and local government officials came to Annapolis to testify or show their support for the bill.

Wikimedia Commons

Most of Amber’s days for the last three months have followed the same schedule. The teenager wakes up, eats breakfast, then sleeps until lunch, sometimes dinner. That’s how she spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and her birthday. She doesn’t go outside or talk to many people, and the only school she gets is about an hour and a half of tutoring each day. 

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.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

Editor's Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

Under current law, Maryland generally protects people from being prosecuted for sexual assault or rape if the victim is the attacker’s spouse. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would repeal this so-called “spousal defense.”

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Two police officers assigned to a U.S. Marshals task force were shot in Northeast Baltimore on Wednesday, officials confirmed.

City police said the officers, one from Baltimore City and one from Baltimore County, are part of a fugitive task force attached to the U.S. Marshals office. They were among a group of officers trying to serve an arrest warrant on a man wanted in a Pennsylvania case about noon in the 5900 Block of Radecke Avenue.

The suspect opened fire, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

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