SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT IN BAY HEALTH: After two straight years of declines due to record rainfall in 2018, the Chesapeake Bay’s health improved slightly in 2020, according to a report from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. Christine Condon of the Sun reports that the center’s grade for the estuary ticked up from a C- back to a C. The entire watershed received a B- for the second straight year.
- The watershed, which includes off-shooting rivers and basins, was rated a B-minus. According to the UMCES annual report, the bay showed moderate health and the watershed showed good health last year, Stephanie Lai reports in the Post.
- For the first time, reports Brian Witte for the AP, the report card examined new indicators of watershed health, including stewardship, protected lands, walkability and heat vulnerability. Scientists have been putting a focus on assessing not just the environment, but also the social and economic factors that influence ecosystem health.
ED BOARD RELEASES DRAFT SPENDING PLAN FOR BILLIONS IN RESCUE FUNDS: The Maryland State Board of Education approved Tuesday the public release of a draft plan for spending $1.3 billion of American Rescue Plan funds. The state education department has already received two-thirds of the $1.95 billion set aside for Maryland; the federal government will issue the final third after the draft plan is formally approved, Emily Sullivan reports for WYPR-FM.
- In its draft plan, MSDE reported that its top priority is to speed the return to in-person instruction in the coming school year. The department’s next priorities are to address mental health, social-emotional learning and academic losses from the pandemic, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters.
CARDIN: REPUBLICANS LIKELY TO BACK REMOVING ERA DEADLINE: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said Tuesday that he believes more Republicans will eventually decide to back legislation that would remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter. The ERA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Congress approved the ERA in 1972 and it has since been ratified by 38 states, which is the minimum needed for adoption. However, the legislation required ratification no later than March 22, 1979. On that date only 35 states had ratified the ERA.
- Cardin’s Senate Joint Resolution 1 would remove that deadline and, he hopes, allow the amendment to become part of the Constitution, Bennett Leckrone reports for Maryland Matters.
TRANSIT OFFICIALS WARNS THAT HIGHWAY PROJECTS IMPERILED: A top official with the Maryland Department of Transportation warned local leaders in the D.C. region on Monday that a recent vote against a controversial highway-widening project puts other road and transit improvements in jeopardy, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.
PEREZ JOINS RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Tom Perez, who spent the last four years leading the national Democratic Party, is launching a campaign to be Maryland’s next governor, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Perez said Marylanders “are punching below our weight” and he believes he’s the best-qualified candidate to move the state forward in improving health care, education and the economy.
- Perez, 59, said his campaign will focus on his experience over the past 35 years and his efforts to create opportunities for people regardless of where they live, Ovetta Wiggins of the Sun reports.
- He will join a growing list of Democratic candidates — all men, so far — in seeking to succeed Larry Hogan (R), Maryland’s popular and term-limited governor, in the 2022 elections, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.
- Here’s is his 5-minute campaign video, chockful of testimonials, including two long file clips from President Barack Obama.
PITTMAN INVITES ALDEN CAPITAL TO SLAIN JOURNALISTS MEMORIAL: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman on Tuesday penned an open letter to the new hedge fund owner of the Capital Gazette, condemning the voluntary buyouts the ownership offered to staff in the days after the acquisition and inviting the leadership to an event commemorating the third anniversary of the shooting that killed five members of the paper’s staff, Danielle Ohl reports for the Capital Gazette.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that Pittman told reporters, “I’m not speaking out against the Capital newspaper. I’m pleading with Alden Global Capital to preserve and protect this paper that they now own. I have to do it because nobody else is.”
B’MORE MAYOR ATTENDS WHITE HOUSE GUN VIOLENCE ROUNDTABLE: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott will travel Wednesday to the White House where he will participate in a roundtable discussion about gun violence. Scott will make the visit along with several other local officials from across the country, Emily Opilo reports for the Sun.
- Scott will be meeting with President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland along with other stakeholders to discuss ways the Biden-Harris Administration is acting to keep cities and neighborhoods safe, Kelly Broderick reports for WMAR-TV.
$36 CONTRACT TURNS INTO $7.5M ONE: What business rivals said was too good to be true – a bid by a Chicago firm to manage three city-owned parking garages for three years for only $36 – has turned out to be exactly that, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew. Tomorrow, the Board of Estimates will be asked to increase the price of the parking award to SP Plus Corp. from $36 to $7.6 million, 208,333 times the contract approved by the spending board two years ago.
B’MORE PANEL TO MONITOR IG’s WORK: Baltimore city officials will convene an oversight panel that monitors the work of Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming next month, an announcement that comes during a year when she has faced public criticism from the subjects of her investigations, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
OC URGED TO USE POLICE BODY CAMS: A Maryland public defender is pushing Ocean City to put a police department body-worn camera program in place, WBAL-TV reports. Chastity Simpson sent a letter to Mayor Rick Meehan and police Chief Ross Buzzaro, and it comes on the heels of two violent arrests on the Ocean City boardwalk.
FORMER MEMBER OF HO CO SCHOOL BOARD INDICTED: Howard County entrepreneur and former school board vice chair Brian Meshkin has been indicted in California on federal conspiracy charges that accuse him of a kickback scheme that reaped millions of dollars, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports. Meshkin served on the Howard County Board of Education from 2010 to 2014. He did not seek reelection but moved his family to California to devote more time to his company.
OPINION: DIVERSITY TRAP IN HIGHER ED: In an opinion piece for the Daily Caller, Richard Vatz of Towson University, Blake Faulkner and Tyrone Keys bemoan diversity mandates in higher education, including Towson University, whose plan, they write, will “likely prove to be an anti-Caucasian.” They write, “Public colleges and universities across the United States are pushing for ‘equity, inclusion and diversity,’ including major program directives to be followed by faculty, students and administration. These are not mere talking points or mission statements, but concrete policies.”