The News: The Inspector General’s Report on Mosby, Cash Assistance Coming, Baltimore Captured on Film

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This week’s Baltimore news includes: the Mosby report is not what she bargained for, a new tool for tracking vaccine rollout, tenant’s rightful relief, and more reporting from Maryland Matters, WYPR, Baltimore, and other local and independent news sources.



Marilyn Mosby gave a keynote address, entitled “Black Law Matters,” at a Tuskegee University event today.

Seeking exoneration, Marilyn Mosby instead gets a highly critical report from Baltimore’s IG
by Mark Reutter
Published February 9 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby did not donate any of the 41 gifts she received in 2018 and 2019 to her office’s charity auction, as her spokesperson claimed, and did not submit at least 15 out-of-town trips to the Board of Estimates for approval, as required by city policy, the inspector general reported today.

The findings were part of a wide-ranging investigation of Mosby’s activities, which the state’s attorney herself requested after this website published a story about her extensive travels, including her formation of LLCs that were not initially disclosed on her state ethics form.

“The Baltimore Brew published an article on my travels and financial disclosure. . . that presents a misleading picture of my finances and travel to readers,” she wrote to Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming on July 20.

Defending her travel as never hidden from the public and beneficial to her work as a progressive prosecutor, she asked the IG to investigate her travel and gifts, “confident that I have always abided by the ethical rules and regulations.”

“The people of Baltimore,” she concluded, “have endured far too many corruption scandals and need to know what is and is not illegal.”



Getty Images/Javier Zayas Photography.

Schrader Calls Local Officials’ Requests for Vaccines ‘Impossible to Fulfill’
by Bruce DePuyt
Published February 10 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Maryland’s health chief on Wednesday rejected a request from local health officials to prioritize their requests for COVID-19 vaccines, saying that the state doesn’t have enough doses to do so.

In a letter to the leaders of 22 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, acting Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader said, “recently local health departments collectively submitted requests for more than 94,000 doses, a collective request far exceeding the total allocation the state receives from the federal administration.”

“Certain individual jurisdictions have requested as many as 20,000 vaccines in a single week alone — a request that would be impossible to fulfill given our allocation from the federal administration,” he added.

Schrader’s letter came in response to one that county executives, county commission chairs and county council chairs of both parties sent this week to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) through the Maryland Association of Counties.

The initial letter sought greater “transparency” in how doses are allocated, a prompt release of federal funds intended county health departments, and a prioritization of local health departments’ requests.

See also:

Maryland has administered first vaccine doses to more than 9% of residents, second doses to 3%
by Marcus Dieterle
Published February 10 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Screenshot courtesy of the City of Baltimore

The City’s recently-launched dashboard shares COVID-19 vaccination data
by Donte Kirby
Published February 9 in Baltimore

Excerpt: The City of Baltimore released a digital COVID-19 vaccine dashboard,where the public can track data showing how many residents have received first and second doses of vaccines.

Created in collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department, the dashboard breaks down vaccination data by age, race, ethnicity, gender and ZIP code.

“This new dashboard gives residents a transparent look into the city’s vaccination efforts in real time,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement. “With ongoing concerns regarding the State’s vaccination plan, this dashboard shines a light on Baltimore’s allocations, including where they are going, who they are going to, and what percentage of residents are receiving these doses versus those outside of the city’s jurisdiction.



Photo Credit: O'Doherty Photography

States Are Biased Toward Road Spending. Baltimore Advocates Are Out to Change That
Published February 9 in TransitCenter

Excerpt: Throughout the U.S., it’s standard for states to spend vastly more on road projects than on transit. But perhaps nowhere is this gap more pronounced than in Maryland under Governor Larry Hogan.

Since his election in 2015, Hogan has lavished billions of dollars on road expansions and the state’s highway system. Meanwhile, the Maryland Transit Administration has sunk into disrepair.

The transit agency — which carries more bus riders than all but 10 other U.S. agencies — faces a $2 billion maintenance backlog, and its rail systems have the highest major breakdown rates in the country, according to a 2019 analysis by the Federal Transit Administration. Baltimore transit riders are largely low-income and Black, while the beneficiaries of Maryland’s road spending are primarily affluent and white. One in three Baltimore transit commuters is an essential worker, holding the city together during the pandemic while navigating the city’s spotty and unreliable transit system.

To dispel these inequities, a new coalition of environmental, labor, and business leaders is working with elected officials in Baltimore to pass the Transit Safety and Investment Act, a bill currently moving through the Maryland state legislature. The bill would require the Maryland Department of Transportation, which oversees the Maryland MTA, to spend millions more annually on MTA maintenance and operations over the next five years. The bill passed the Maryland House of Delegates in 2020, but didn’t make it out of the Senate. Boosters think it stands a better chance this time around.



House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Jones’ Sweeping Police Workgroup Bill Receives Criticism From the ACLU
by Hannah Gaskill
Published February 10 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday to present a bill that seeks to introduce sweeping reform to Maryland’s police agencies.

“I am not someone who hates the police,” Jones asserted. “But over the years I’ve had my own experiences with law enforcement, as have my brothers and my two sons, and this has called into question the way that we as a state and as a society have empowered law enforcement officers [to] execute their duties.”

The omnibus bill is based on recommendations provided by the House Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability in Maryland, which Jones convened following the police killing of George Floyd in late May.

“I am proud that the workgroup took the charge so seriously to put forward this balanced set of recommendations to provide greater transparency and more accountability of policing in Maryland,” she said.



Douglass Houses

Proposed Housing Relief Bills Aim To Ease Baltimore Tenants’ Financial Burdens
by Sarah Y. Kim
Published February 10 in WYPR

Excerpt: A bill that would prevent landlords from charging tenants late fees until after they receive public assistance funds ran into a mixed reception in a city council committee hearing Tuesday.

Tenant advocates like Matt Hill, a lawyer with the Public Justice Center, said it would provide “important relief for families who are truly living on the edge of affordability.”

But Katherine Howard, General Counsel for the property management company Regional Management Inc., said the grace period would only “expand the amount of time that that delinquency continues, which is not helpful to either the tenant or to the landlord.”

The bill, sponsored by Councilman Robert Stokes, is one of two aimed at providing long-term protections for renters after the pandemic ends.

Under Stokes’ bill, landlords would not be able to charge late fees to tenants receiving public assistance until the 11th day after the tenant receives funds.



After six-month delay, Baltimore to relaunch cash assistance program
by Mark Reutter
Published February 9 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Last September, the Board of Estimates voted to divert $6 million from the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund for one-time cash assistance to low-income households impacted by the pandemic.

Even before Covid struck, eliminating tens of thousands of restaurant, hospitality and construction jobs, there were about 134,000 Baltimore residents living in poverty, according to the American Community Survey.

They included more than 28,000 food-insecure children whose annual food needs would require $75 million to meet at an average cost of $3.32 per meal.

The city’s plan was to distribute $400 to up to 15,000 people, age 16 or above, who did not typically access government assistance programs, such as undocumented immigrants, the homeless, members of the LGBTQ community and those with criminal records.

Money from the youth fund would be transferred to the nonprofit Open Society Institute-Baltimore, which would then distribute sub-grants to “CBOs” (Community-Based Organizations) providing pre-loaded debit cards for eligible applicants to afford groceries and other essentials.



photography by Christopher Myers

She’s Got Next: Meet 30 women who are shaping Baltimore’s future
edited by Max Weiss
Published February 9 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: “There are so many amazing women in Baltimore who are doing great things and working together for a cause,” says our cover model, Black Girls Vote founder and CEO Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson. Baltimore has always been a town that honors and elevates women. They are our politicians and business leaders, our artists and activists. The 30 emerging leaders featured in this story are simply following in that long, great tradition. They are moving Baltimore forward, shaping the future of the region in terms of its priorities, policies, and passions—and inspiring others with their compassion and empathy.

“Women approach leadership differently,” says Spoken Word artist Lady Brion. “They don’t embrace the divisiveness of the hierarchy. They are more communicative. More affirming.” But no less powerful. “My mom was my first mentor and still is,” says incoming Baltimore County Public Library director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, echoing a sentiment voiced by many of our subjects. “She’s strong, tough as nails, and resilient.” Sounds like a city we all know and love.

Full disclosure: BmoreArt’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Cara Ober is on the list.



Members of the “Wings” group featured in the new documentary “Anatomy of Wings” discuss their experience with visiting a clinic to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Image courtesy of Raw Honey Productions/Anatomy of Wings film.

Baltimore documentary about Dunbar Middle School women to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival
by Marcus Dieterle
Published February 9 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Just as it takes many feathers to make a wing, the new documentary “Anatomy of Wings” needed all of its subjects to make the project whole, said the film’s co-creator Nikiea Redmond.

“We all are on this journey together. A wing can’t lift anything off the ground without it being in unison,” Redmond said.

Redmond and fellow Baltimore filmmaker Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander directed “Anatomy of Wings,” which showcases the more than 10-year journey of a group of Dunbar Middle School girls, documenting their lives as they grow into women. The film will premiere at this year’s virtual Slamdance Film Festival from Feb. 12-25. People can purchase a festival pass, which includes a ticket to watch the documentary any time during those festival dates.



Eye-opening … Klitorika at St Paul Street Drag night Photograph: JM Giordano

Eternally 3am: Baltimore after dark – in pictures
photo essay by JM Giordano
Published February 9 in The Guardian

Excerpt: Baltimore’s heart and soul runs not just through one particular scene, but many. For 25 years, photographer JM Giordano has walked his beloved city at night, capturing its bars, nightclubs, inaugurals, casinos, strip clubs, drag nights, hip-hop battles … and crime scenes. ‘This book is a document of a time that I think is gone for ever,’ he says. Joseph M Giordano’s We Used to Live at Night is available to preorder here



Protest marchers confront police on the streets of Baltimore following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. PHOTO: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES


‘We Own This City’ Review: Wolves Among the Flock
by Sarah Weinman
Published February 5 in Wall Street Journal

Excerpt: Toward the end of crime reporter Justin Fenton’s account of the catastrophic reign of a Baltimore police unit that became synonymous with law-enforcement corruption and brutality, BPD detective Ryan Guinn touches on a paradox many of his colleagues see at the heart of police work. Speaking of another officer’s brazen disregard for the law, Mr. Guinn protests: “He cut corners—yeah, what cop doesn’t cut corners? Show me a cop who goes A-to-Z and hits every letter in their investigation. With the pressure we’re put under to produce?”

The nexus between the “pressure” brought by civic leaders clamoring for an answer to gun violence, and the less lofty realities of the practical world of policing comes into focus in the story of one notorious team’s origins and descent into infamy, as told by a longtime journalist for the Baltimore Sun. Mr. Fenton’s “We Own This City” is the tale of the Gun Trace Task Force, founded in 2007 as a well-meaning initiative that would target the distributors and straw purchasers responsible for flooding Baltimore streets with guns. “We were like one big unit,” recalled Mr. Guinn, a founding member of the GTTF, “and we went everywhere.”



Header image: JM Giordano

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