State roundup: Md. schools chief under probe for shielded messages; Van Hollen backs bill for more cannabis payment options

State roundup: Md. schools chief under probe for shielded messages; Van Hollen backs bill for more cannabis payment options

Gov. Wes Moore shakes hands Thursday with Gov. Park Wan-Su of Gyeongnam province in South Korea, as he met with a delegation from Maryland's sister province in the Republic of Korea. Governor's Office photo by Joe Andrucyk

MD. INSPECTOR GENERAL PROBES STATE SCHOOLS CHIEF FOR SHIELDING MESSAGES; Maryland’s inspector general for education is investigating whether outgoing Maryland Schools Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury and other state education department leaders improperly shielded their communications from public records requests. A source with knowledge of the investigation told The Baltimore Banner the state watchdog is asking questions about the administration’s use of Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to discuss state business. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Banner

CANNABIS SELLERS HOPEFUL SENATE PASSES BILL GIVING BUYERS MORE PAYMENT OPTIONS: Cannabis customers can’t use credit cards at dispensaries — it’s cash or debit only. Traction on Capitol Hill could change the way dispensaries do business; the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee approved the SAFER Banking Act and put it on the calendar for a Senate vote.   Jack Watson/WMAR (ABC)

SOMERSET MAYOR URGES BOYCOTT UNTIL MOCO DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR QUITS: Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin wrote a letter Wednesday urging donors to withhold fundraising and boycott the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s fall gala until chair Saman Qadeer Ahmad resigns. Slavin is the second prominent party member to call for Ahmad’s resignation. Ginny Bixby/MoCo 360

BALTO. CO. MAN WHO IS NOT A CITIZEN IS CHARGED WITH ILLEGALLY VOTING: A Baltimore County man was charged with voting in a past Maryland Gubernatorial Election without having U.S. citizenship, according to the office of the Maryland State Prosecutor. Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard III said Thursday that charges were filed against Francis Bagnall, a Baltimore County resident, for voting in the 2018 Maryland Gubernatorial General Election without having the legal authority to vote. Jeffery Bozzi/WBFF (Fox)

ANNE ARUNDEL HOUSING BILL WOULD SET ASIDE MODERATE-AND LOW-INCOME UNITS: An Anne Arundel County Council bill introduced this week would require a portion of all new residential developments with 20 or more units be set aside for people with incomes at or below the Baltimore-area median. Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, who is spearheading the bill, said the county would attempt to make the requirements financially viable for developers by cutting developers’ water and sewer bills by 50% and waiving certain one-time fees for utilities. Hallie Miller/The Baltimore Banner

ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS WILL LIKELY SET ANOTHER RECORD THIS YEAR: According to the ADL, 2022 had the highest number of antisemitic incidents reported across the U.S. in a single year since reporting started in 1979. “The reality is that this is the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded,” Meredith Weisel, the regional director for the ADL’s Washington, D.C. Regional Office, said. Weisel noted that from what the ADL has seen so far in 2023, this year has the potential to be another record year. Natalie Davis of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

DEMOCRATIC “FIGHTERS’ SEEK TO REPLACE SEN. CARDIN: Rep. David Trone, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks are among the top Democratic candidates seeking to replace retiring Sen. Ben Cardin. Len Lazarick of Maryland Reporter/The Business Monthly

RUNNER-UP IN BALTO. CITY COUNCIL PREZ RACE EXPLORIES RUNNING AGAIN: Shannon Sneed, the runner-up in 2020’s race for Baltimore City Council president, has created a campaign fundraising committee in support of another run for the council presidency. Sneed, a member of the City Council from 2016 to 2020 representing East Baltimore, left political office in 2020 after her failed bid for council president. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun

PANEL DISCUSSES CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATION AND ITS FUTURE: Everything old is new again when it comes to the challenges of educating our children. Addressing those challenges was the center of a panel discussion held over Zoom on Wednesday night by Great Talk Inc and The Alexander Grass Humanities Institute of Johns Hopkins University.  Titled “How to Educate our Children for their Best Future in a Changing World,” Aliza Worthington/ Baltimore Fishbowl

BALTO.’S INTERIM POLICE COMMISSIONER IS SWORN IN: Baltimore has a new police commissioner and fire chief. Richard Worley was sworn in at City Hall on Thursday as the city’s 41st police commissioner, while James Wallace is officially sworn in as the city’s newest fire chief. Adam Thompson/WJZ (CBS)

TRAINING TO RESIST BOOK BANNING: To mark Banned Books Week, which is Oct. 1-7, PEN America has launched online training for students to fight book bans, and more recently, teamed up with bestselling authors to fight against a growing number of book bans across the country. Although the PEN America report notes Maryland was one of 17 states without book bans, there has been some local resistance. Ariana Figueroa & William J. Ford/Maryland Matters

OPRAH DONATES $2.5 MILLION TO MO CO NONPROFIT FOR KIDS: The U.S. Dream Academy set a fundraising goal of $1 million at its annual gala this week but after a surprise video message from Oprah Winfrey at the event, officials of the Silver Spring-based organization learned they would be far exceeding this goal. Courtney Cohn/MoCo 360

Sen, Jennie Forehand

FORMER STATE SEN. JENNIE FOREHAND DIES: Former state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Montgomery), who combined Southern charm with steely persistence when it came to pursuing her legislative priorities, died Tuesday in Indianapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She was 87. Forehand represented the Rockville and Gaithersburg areas in the General Assembly for 36 years — 16 in the House and 20 in the Senate — before retiring at the end of 2014. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

OPINION: STATE BOARD OF ED HITS A GRAND SLAM: If you think the Baltimore Orioles are the year’s biggest turnaround surprise, you haven’t been following the fortunes of the Maryland State Department of Education. But lo and behold, the State Board announced Wednesday, in the wake of the resignation of the superintendent, the appointment of Carey Wright as interim superintendent. And she just happens to be, arguably, the person with the most accomplished early literacy leadership record in the nation. Kalman Hettleman/Maryland Matters 

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