May 1, 2015

State Roundup, May 1, 2015

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HOGAN APPEALS FOR PEACE: Gov. Larry Hogan toured West Baltimore asking men and business owners to help keep the peace throughout the weekend. But several wanted to make a deal. The community needed jobs and a return of its community center, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

MOSBY’S CHALLENGE: Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, just 35 years old and on the job for less than four months, is facing the biggest challenge of her career: deciding whether evidence supports criminal charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby ousted an established white opponent by promising to hold police accountable, according to an AP report at WBFF-TV.

SHARPTON DEFENDS MAYOR: The Rev. Al Sharpton gave an aggressive defense Thursday of Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s handling of recent unrest, saying it was time to “end the scapegoating.” At a summit of religious and other leaders at New Shiloh Baptist Church in West Baltimore, the New York-based civil rights activist said criticism of the mayor’s performance during the violence of the past week has been unfair, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

O’MALLEY TAKES ON BALTIMORE: Jason Horowitz of the New York Times reports that for better or worse, former Gov. Martin O’Malley is embracing Baltimore in his long-shot bid for the presidency.

GRAY’S INJURIES: Baltimore police have found that Freddie Gray suffered a serious head injury inside a prisoner transport wagon, with one wound indicating that he struck a protruding bolt in the back of the vehicle, according to sources familiar with the probe. Justin Fenton of the Sun reports that new details of the investigation emerged as police officially turned over the case to city prosecutors Thursday. Police said they have “exhausted every lead.”

SKETCHY DETAILS FUEL SUSPICION: Authorities’ refusal to provide more than a few sketchy details about the Freddie Gray investigation is fueling suspicion and mistrust as a weekend of protest rallies looms, according to an AP report in the Daily Record. The secrecy may be legally appropriate, but many in Baltimore were finding it hard to be patient Thursday when police revealed next to nothing about the criminal investigation they turned over to the state’s attorney’s office.

UNDISCLOSED STOP: Mark Reutter and Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew report that the new clue in Freddie Gray case — the undisclosed stop by the police wagon — was disclosed by police. A surveillance camera at a grocery store picked up footage of a previously unknown stop by the wagon that carried Freddie Gray.

ATF OFFERS REWARD: The ATF (Alcohol Tobacco Firearms agency) office in Baltimore is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in multiple building fires that were set Monday evening, and it’s particularly looking for video evidence, according to the Daily Record.

GROWING UP IN SANDTOWN: Derrell Bradford writes about what it was like growing up in Sandtown-Winchester and attending Frederick Douglass High School. The article appears in Education Post.

2015 MUCH LIKE 1968: Long-time Baltimore columnist Michael Olesker, in a piece in MarylandReporter.com, recalls the 1968 riots and says that when the newest catastrophic riot broke out Monday afternoon, it was started by the children of the children of 1968’s riot, who are still wandering between the overmatched mother and the absent father, still wandering between the overmatched school teacher and the broken neighborhood where street corners are controlled by the heroin dealers.

CLOSINGS: Here’s a list of closings and cancellations around the Baltimore area, thanks to Sun staff.

National Guard

The National Guard is trying to emphasize that they are not just an occupying force in Baltimore — but that some of its soldiers actually live there. (From the Guard’s Facebook page)

DELEGATE SUGGESTS RESCINDING PROTESTERS’ FOOD STAMPS: Perry Stein of the Washington Post writes that Del. Patrick McDonough entertained the idea this week of taking away food stamps from the parents of protesting youth in Baltimore. In the radio clip from WCBM’s conservative Tom Marr Show — which First Look Media’s The Intercept first spotted — a caller asked the Republican delegate why the government can’t take welfare benefits away from the parents of Baltimore teens protesting in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

HEALING THE CITY: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley writes in an op-ed for the Huffington Post that the “burning anger in the heart of our city — broadcast around the world — reminded all of us of a hard truth. It is a truth we must face as a nation. Because it is a truth that threatens our children’s future. It is the reality that eats away at the heart of America and the very survival of the American Dream we share.”

  • GBC’s Don Fry writes in Center Maryland that, “For the city and region to heal, business, civic, community, and government leaders face a two-fold set of challenges. In the short-term, compassion, teamwork and resources must be applied to the work of restoring damaged city neighborhoods. That has already begun … In the long-term, there is clearly much work to be done to address long-simmering issues that require serious attention, not just to get beyond the current violence, but to resolve important economic and quality of life challenges.”

BATTS SAYS CURFEW STAYS: Dashing hope that a few days of relative peace could bring an early return to normal, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said Thursday night that the curfew imposed after rioting Monday will remain in place through the weekend.

LEGISLATORS DENY CONNECTION TO PROTEST GROUP: Prominent African-American leaders who are being listed by a militant black lawyers’ group as participants in a Saturday anti-police rally in Baltimore say their names were used without their knowledge or permission writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. Baltimore Del. Jill Carter and former Prince George’s County Del. Aisha Braveboy said Thursday that they have no connection with the Black Lawyers for Justice group or its leader, Malik Z. Shabazz.

EHRLICH: IT’S PERSONAL: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich speaks on 105.7 The Fan’s Norris and Davis show and says, “It’s personal. I’m tired of this sense of we demand justice now, on our terms, indictment, the whole nine yards before all the facts are known.”

BRING ON THE CELEBS: The Obama administration has reached out to celebrities with Baltimore ties and asked them to play a role in helping to ease tensions in the city, John Fritze reports in the Sun. The administration has contacted sports figures such as Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who played basketball at Towson Catholic High School, and Ray Lewis, and asked them to play a role in the community, which is still on edge following the riots on Monday.

RECALLING 1968: Former Hagerstown resident Richard Phoebus said he was a 30-year-old captain in the Maryland Army National Guard on April 6, 1968 when rioters took to the streets of Baltimore and destroyed property to protest the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He recalls the situation to Dan Dearth of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

CHARTER SCHOOL BILL: Rebecca Lessner writes in MarylandReporter.com that an amended charter school bill will slam the door on Maryland’s chance to follow the 29 other states in embarking onto the newly charted plains of cyber-schooling, according to charter school advocates. Gov. Larry Hogan made charter schools a priority last session with his Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015, which would have made it easier for charter schools to start in Maryland. But the General Assembly made major changes to the bill before passage, including a new, little-known prohibition on 100% online charter schools. It now awaits the governor’s signature.

SYNAGOGUE CHALLENGES RAIN TAX: Danny Jacobs of the Daily Record reports that a Baltimore synagogue is appealing the city appeals board’s decision that it must pay a stormwater management fee. And while Shaarei Tfiloh Congregation echoes arguments by critics that the fee is in fact a property tax by another name, it is also making a constitutional argument — that the fee violates the synagogue’s religious rights.

AVIAN FLU WORRIES MD CHICKEN INDUSTRY: An outbreak of avian influenza capable of killing poultry within 48 hours of infection has spread from the West Coast as far east as Iowa, putting Delaware and Maryland’s chicken industry on a watchful posture, James Fisher reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

FRACKING ELSEWHERE AFFECTS LOCAL AIR: Even though Maryland has yet to permit any hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, emissions linked to the controversial drilling technique have been detected in the air in Baltimore and Washington, according to a new study, reports Timothy Wheeler in the Sun. In a paper published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, University of Maryland scientists reported finding that levels of ethane, a component of natural gas, rose 30%  from 2010 through 2013 in air samples taken at a monitoring station in Essex.

EDWARDS’ LOVE FOR ISRAEL DOUBTED: Rachel Weiner reports in the Post, “Forget what’s in her heart. Some members of Maryland’s Jewish community are concerned by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards’ intestines. “If somebody could look in her kishkes, I doubt a love for Israel would be found there,” said Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, using the Yiddish word for guts. His Baltimore congregation counts among its members Sen. Ben Cardin, whom Edwards is hoping to join in the Senate in 2017 as a replacement for retiring lawmaker Barbara Mikulski.