State Roundup: Board OKs $2M each for wrongly convicted brothers

State Roundup: Board OKs $2M each for wrongly convicted brothers

Prison bars by Ken Mayer under a Flickr Creative Commons license

BPW OKS $2M PAYOUT TO WRONGLY CONVICTED BROTHERS: A Maryland board approved settlements of nearly $2 million each Wednesday for two men who were wrongly imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, the AP is reporting. The three-member Board of Public Works approved the settlements to be paid over seven years.

  • Eric Simmons and Kenneth “JR” McPherson, two brothers who spent 24 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit, were awarded nearly $2 million each by the state of Maryland on Wednesday, becoming the ninth and 10th exonerees to receive compensation from the state since October, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
  • “You really can’t get that time back,” said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who is African American and chaired the board meeting. Rutherford, according to Bryan Sears of the Daily Record, said the vote represented “an opportunity, a moment in time, when we can make some systemic changes that hopefully we won’t have this kind of situation occurring in the future.”
  • Money can’t take it away, but it will allow you to move forward with your life,” Simmons told Maryland Matters in a phone interview, “and I like to always say that it’s not a handout, it’s a hand up, because for … 24 years and eight months I couldn’t grow, I couldn’t learn — most of my formative years was spent in there. So I definitely appreciate them.”

FREDERICK SHERIFF SETTLES IN WRONGFUL ARREST: A woman who sued the Frederick County Sheriff’s office and county for a wrongful arrest and civil rights violations has settled with both parties through an insurance company for $100,000. The corresponding case began more than a decade ago, when Roxana Orellana Santos was working as a dishwasher at Common Market in Frederick. During her lunch break, two sheriff’s deputies approached her, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports.

COVID CASES, HOSPITALIZATIONS DROP: Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes that the state Department of Health indicated on Wednesday that the number of positive coronavirus cases in Maryland has dropped to 5.81% and the number of COVID-related hospitalizations in the state are at their lowest level since April 5.

  • Here’s the Sun’s daily update on Covid-19 numbers state- and countywide.
  • The count of coronavirus patients in Maryland hospitals has dropped for three straight weeks, state officials reported Wednesday. The number of patients currently hospitalized has declined for 21 consecutive days, dropping from 1,334 on May 28 to 702 on Wednesday, Nathan Ruiz of the Sun reports.

RECOVERING FROM COVID: Jon Meoli of the Sun reports about a Baltimore Covid-19 rehab ward, where patients must relearn and regain abilities lost during their illness and recovering.

BPW NIXES COVID CONTRACT ADDENDUM: The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to nix an emergency modification to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ health care contract that would have tacked an additional 30% onto the state’s monthly fee for unspecified COVID-19 costs, writes Hannah Gaskill in Maryland Matters. Comptroller Peter Franchot said his concern was not about the price tag, but the lack of accountability.

OPINION: DEL. COX’s EFFORTS ON HOGAN ORDERS: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post writes that Del. Dan Cox is continuing his efforts to have Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency orders to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state declared unconstitutional. One argument in his efforts the board finds “fantasy, pure and simple.”

OPINION: DEL. WILSON ON POLICE ENCOUNTERS: Del. C.T. Wilson of Charles County relates his experience with law enforcement as an African American man in a guest commentary in Maryland Matters.

PANEL PUSHES PA TO MANAGE POLLUTION: An advisory commission of 13 Northeastern states has recommended to the Environmental Protection Agency that Pennsylvania’s power plants – a major source of ozone and air pollution in Maryland – must add more pollution control measures, writes Elizabeth Shwe in Maryland Matters. “This sends a very strong and timely message that the Clean Air Act needs to be enforced and that we all need to benefit from that,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.

OPINION: NO OPENNESS ON DISTANCE LEARNING: In a column for the Washington Examiner, Arundel County resident J.H. Snider writes about his attempt to find out more about distance learning policies and plans in the county as well as in the Maryland Department of Education. His attempts, he writes, were stymied.

DISTANCE LEARNING IN MONTGOMERY: Del. Eric Luedtke (D-14) also sought information specifically about Montgomery County distance learning. MSDE got the answers and Luedtke shared them with Seventh State.

B’MORE OFFICIAL CALLED OUT FOR OKing OT, VEHICLE: Baltimore’s top emergency management official approved inappropriate overtime for a senior manager and replaced a city vehicle the manager crashed with a lease that was double the cost, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General released Wednesday. Emily Opilo of the Sun also says that report states the senior manager worked for the city without a contract for three months and violated several city regulations by “excessively” using city electronic equipment for personal use.

PORT COVINGTON TIF OKed DESPITE PROTEST: Baltimore’s spending panel on Wednesday voted to approve issuing $148 million in bonds to support the sprawling Port Covington project in South Baltimore, Talia Richman of the Sun reports. A group of civic organizations, including the ACLU, filed a protest ahead of the vote, citing the pandemic as one reason the spending panel should delay or withdraw the plan.

AA ED BOARD OKs HIGHER SPENDING PLAN: The Anne Arundel County Board of Education has unanimously approved the fiscal 2021 capital budget of $163 million, a spending plan that is $9.6 million more than that proposed by County Executive Steuart Pittman on May 1, according to a report by Leah Crawley of WBFF-TV. The plan includes $2.5 million added by the County Council for the design of a new West County Elementary School. The county executive subsequently added funding in future years for the construction of the school.

MO CO DEPTS. TOLD TO CUT 6%: With a shortfall of up to $600 million in tax revenue expected for the current and next fiscal years, Montgomery County departments are being directed to cut 6% of their approved budget for next year writes Briana Adhikusuma in Bethesda Beat. The cuts are part of a revised spending plan County Executive Marc Elrich is creating to address the revenue gap.

WONDERING ABOUT THE SUN’S FATE: Rick Edmonds, the media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a journalism study and training organization, speculates on the fate of Tribune Publishing’s newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun.

WEAA ANNOUNCER SHOT, KILLED: WEAA-FM announcer Tyra Womack was fatally shot outside her Lauraville home while trying to stop a dispute between two neighbors, according to charging documents, Phil Davis reports in the Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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