State Roundup: Local reaction to Scotus decision on affirmative action; Canadian wildfires threaten health

State Roundup: Local reaction to Scotus decision on affirmative action; Canadian wildfires threaten health

Gilman Hall at Johns Hopkins University

UNIVERSITIES, POLITICIANS IN MD. REACT TO SCOTUS DECISION ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: “Sets us back decades.” …. “Shamefully disrespectful.” … “Another disheartening blow.” WMAR takes a look at how local lawmakers and university presidents are reacting to the Supreme Court’s Thursday morning decision to overturn affirmative action. WMAR (ABC) Staff

  • Johns Hopkins University released a letter to its community expressing the school’s disappointment with the Supreme Court ruling. A letter from President Ron Daniels said the university has worked hard to improve diversity within its student body. He said Hopkins will review the opinion of The Supreme Court when it comes to making changes to its admission policy. Sinéad Hawkins/WBFF (Fox)
  • While it appears the Supreme Court’s ruling came as a shock to Maryland’s higher education community, it’s a decision some legal experts believe was always on the horizon. Tim Tooten/WBAL-TV (NBC)
  • Less than an hour after the decision, former President Barack Obama  and former first lady Michelle Obama released statements that included links to scholarship funds and organizations focused on college access for minority students. Ariana Figueroa & Ashley Murray/Maryland Matters

CANADIAN WILDFIRES MAY AFFECT MARYLANDERS’ HEALTH IN LONG TERM: The Maryland Department of Health and Department of the Environment urged Marylanders on Thursday to take precautions as unhealthy air conditions continue to spread across the state and region. The smoke and fine particles produced from the Canada wildfires could have a long-term impact on health. A medical professional said the small particles and fine ash from these wildfires can get into the deep parts of lungs and that could cause respiratory issues. Alex Glaze/WJZ (CBS)

  • Baltimore once again recorded hazardous Code Red air quality readings due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires. According to the federal government’s AirNow real-time monitoring site, the AQI (Air Quality Index) in Baltimore at noon on Thursday was 186, which is considered “unhealthy for all groups.” Laura Fay/Baltimore Brew

WEST B’MORE TO GET $11 MILLION FOR REVITALIZATION: State and city leaders — in what they described as the start of a renaissance of redevelopment in West Baltimore neighborhoods — converged on the campus of Coppin State University on Thursday to celebrate new funding for economic development in the area. Under the new $63 billion state budget that goes into effect Saturday, $11.4 million will go to the West North Avenue Development Authority — a panel legislators created in 2021 to focus on revitalization efforts in a targeted zone around West North Avenue that stretches from the Fairmont to Bolton Hill neighborhoods. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun

LAX ENFORCEMENT OF BAG TAX MAY HAVE COST MONTGOMERY CO. MILLIONS: Montgomery County hasn’t properly enforced its nickel carryout bag tax, resulting in thousands and potentially millions of dollars of lost revenue for the county, according to a report released this month from the county Office of the Inspector General. The OIG estimates the county has lost out on at least $210,000 per year since the law went into effect in 2012 – but could have experienced a potential total loss of over $8.2 million over 10 years. Ginny Bixby/MoCo360

U.S. PROBE FINDS MONTGOMERY COLLEGE PROF MADE STUDENTS DISROBE: A Montgomery College professor was found to have sexually harassed several students, according to an investigation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The investigation found that he required several female students to remove their shirts and stand in their bras in a classroom setting at the college’s Takoma/Silver Spring campus. According to the OCR, the professor commented on the students’ bodies in what he called a “medical demonstration.” MoCo 360 Staff

EX-MONTGOMERY CO. TRANSPORTATION OFFICIAL IS CHARGED WITH MISCONDUCT: A former director of transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools has been charged with misconduct in office. Todd Watkins was fired by MCPS in February 2021 and has been under investigation alongside former MCPS Assistant Director of Transportation Charles Ewald for using almost $600,000 of MCPS funds for personal use. An internal MCPS audit uncovered that gift cards, furniture, and other purchases had been shipped to an employee’s home. MoCo 360 Staff

B’MORE’S NAACP SEEKS NATIONAL SEARCH FOR POLICE COMMISSIONER: The NAACP’s Baltimore branch on Thursday called for a national search to replace former Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, citing a lack of communication and transparency in the selection process since Mayor Brandon Scott announced Harrison was leaving. The mayor appointed police veteran Richard Worley to serve as acting commissioner and planned for him to go through the formal confirmation process within the Baltimore City Council. Aliza Worthington/Baltimore Fishbowl

B’MORE MAYOR HAS MISSED NEARLY HALF OF SPENDING BOARD’s 2023 MEETINGS: It happened again on Wednesday: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott skipped a meeting of the Board of Estimates. It was his third absence since mid-May and his sixth for the year. The absence brings his attendance record so far in 2023 to a little above the 50% mark. When Scott became mayor, the powerful spending board met once a week. Now the board meets twice a month. Mark Reutter/Baltimore Brew

BUSINESSES GEAR UP FOR MINIMUM-WAGE HIKES: Starting Saturday, most business owners around the state will have six months to prepare for a coming jump in the state’s minimum wage. The Fair Wage Act of 2023, passed earlier this year, was a priority for Gov. Wes Moore (D) in his first year in office. The change accelerates the move to $15 per hour as phased in under a 2019 law. In Montgomery County, companies with 51 or more employees will pay $16.70 per hour as of Saturday. Bryan P. Sears/Maryland Matters

MASSIVE MEDIC SHORTAGE WORSENS FOR B’MORE FIRE DEPARTMENT: In recent years, Baltimore’s firefighters and medics have grown accustomed to responding to the city’s many 911 calls with skeleton crews. But this summer, weekends have been even more fraught than usual. That tension culminated on Saturday, when nearly a third of the Baltimore City Fire Department’s engine and truck companies were out of service due to shortages of personnel, according to Josh Fannon, president of IAFF Local 964, the fire officers’ union. Ben Conarck/ The Baltimore Banner

COMMENTARY: MTA IS FAILING B’MORE STUDENTS:  The recent school year in Baltimore City ended with one startling statistic; nearly 58% of students were chronically absent from classroom instruction. “While I do not solely attribute the headline-making statistic to the shortcomings of the Maryland Transit Administration, research suggests a correlation between transportation and education. Our youth deserve better.” Cory McCray/Maryland Reporter

About The Author

Regina Holmes

Contributing editor Regina Holmes has worked as a journalist for over 30 years. She was an assistant business editor at the Miami Herald and an assistant city editor at Newsday in New York City, where she helped supervise coverage of 9/11, anthrax attacks and the August 2003 Northeast Blackout. As an assistant managing editor of the Baltimore Examiner, she helped launch the free tabloid in 2006. Before joining Maryland Reporter, she was the managing editor for Washington, D.C.-based Talk Media News, where she supervised digital, radio and video production of news reports for over 400 radio stations. The Baltimore native is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

1 Comment

  1. Uniview Display

    Thanks for sharing. There are bad things in life and there are good things in life, but no matter what, rising wages are a happy thing.

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