The News: End of Supplemental Unemployment, WYPR Acquires WTMD, Strong City Fallout

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This week’s Baltimore news includes: Blink and the Mosbys are back in the headlines, wind power downey ocean, remembering “The Egg Lady,” and more reporting from Baltimore, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, and other local and independent news sources.



Democrats Slam Hogan’s Decision to End Expanded Unemployment Benefits, Look to Block Action
by Bruce DePuyt
Published June 2 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Alarmed at the prospect that needy families will be hurt by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s decision to end supplemental unemployment benefits in early July, members of the General Assembly scrambled on Wednesday to blunt — and perhaps block — his action.

Legislative leaders sought advice from Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) about a possible special session — and a powerful committee chairman said he will introduce legislation to advance the effective date of Maryland’s $15-per-hour minimum wage law.

The flurry of activity was set in motion by Hogan’s decision to end the $300-per-week supplemental unemployment insurance benefit that some Marylanders have been collecting, effective July 3.

The state will also stop providing a $100-per-week payment that “mixed earners” — typically gig workers who have multiple sources of wage income — have been receiving.

In addition, people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks will see their benefits end.



WTMD general manager: planned acquisition of Towson music station by WYPR will be mutually beneficial
by Marcus Dieterle
Published June 2 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: WYPR’s plan to purchase WTMD from Towson University for $3 million needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, and the two radio stations are working out operational details. But WTMD general manager Scott Mullins said the deal will benefit both stations.

“We are excited to partner with WYPR,” Mullins said. “They’re Baltimore’s flagship NPR news station. We’re a nationally recognized leader in the AAA [Album Adult Alternative] music format in public radio. I think we’re going to strengthen each other.”

WYPR president and general manager LaFontaine E. Oliver praised WTMD’s work and said WYPR will build upon that success.

“WYPR is proud to preserve another university radio station, to serve the Baltimore community, on the heels of our 20th anniversary year,” Oliver said in a statement. “We plan to build on the investments made by Towson University and the success of WTMD, which provides a rich and unmatched music discovery platform with opportunities for Baltimore’s musicians and artists at its core. What Scott and his team have been able to accomplish over the years has been tremendous.”



Nick Mosby again requests delay of travel policies that would affect his wife
by Mark Reutter
Published June 1 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: For the second time, City Council President Nick Mosby has requested a deferral of travel policies that would require elected officials, including his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Maryland Mosby, to disclose out-of-state travel paid by third parties.

His request was made, according to an email obtained tonight by The Brew, so that his office could work “on additional clarifying and strengthening amendments to the policy that will not be ready for consideration at tomorrow’s meeting.”

The new rules arose after Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming faulted Ms. Mosby for not getting Board of Estimates’ approval for her out-of-town trips in 2018 and 2019.

The finding was part of a broader IG report that criticized the city’s top prosecutor for using a non-income-producing company to deduct travel expenses from her federal taxes and not disclosing a subsidized trip to a health spa.



Activists Protest “Persecution” Of Keith Davis Jr. After New Attempted Murder Charges
by Emily Sullivan
Published June 2 in WYPR

Excerpt: Dozens of activists decried what they called the endless pursuit of Keith Davis, Jr. outside the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse on Tuesday, days after Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged him with attempted murder over a prison stabbing that occured last June.

“This persecution must stop,” said defense attorney Latoya Francis-Williams, who represented Davis during three trials and announced she will file a civil suit against Mosby. “Not another dime should be spent on this persecution, not another dime from our community, not another taxpayer dollar. It does no one any service.”

Davis has been in jail since 2015, after the State’s Attorney’s Office charged him with the killing of Kevin Jones, a Pimlico Security guard who was shot while walking to work. He has been through four murder trials: two ended in hung juries, one in a conviction that was overturned and one in another conviction in 2020. But a city judge granted him a new trial last month, meaning he likely will face a fifth trial.

Last Friday, he was charged with attempted murder for an alleged prison stabbing that occured during a jailhouse fight in June 2020. In charging documents, Detective Sgt. Roger Balderston said that Davis stabbed fellow Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center inmate Kenneth O’Neil several times; he allegedly required sutures and staples for his injuries.

Davis has maintained innocence throughout his lengthy legal battles. Baltimore police arrested him in June 2015, alleging that he tried to rob a cab driver by gunpoint before fleeing on foot. During a chase — Davis has said the incident was a case of mistaken identity and that he ran because he was afraid — police fired 44 shots at Davis, striking him three times, including once in the face.



Winds of Change: Source of Power and Struggle
by Josh Kurtz
Published June 2 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: In a nondescript building near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, a glimpse of Maryland’s clean energy future is on vivid display.

Climb up to the captain’s bridge on a replica of a Coast Guard cutter, but hold on tight: It can be a wild ride.

The ship is cutting through the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves are high and rain is lashing the windows. As captain, you’ll need to adjust speed and remain vigilant to keep the boat upright and avoid the 800-foot towers up ahead.

The experience feels real enough to cause seasickness — even though nothing’s moving.

It’s a simulation, meant to recreate the sensation of navigating a ship through a wind energy farm in the Atlantic, with lifelike images of windmills, sea, varying weather patterns and other vessels projected across eight giant screens. In a smaller room in the same building, a virtual fishing trawler makes a similar journey through an array of computer-generated wind turbines.

This set-up, on the campus of the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Linthicum Heights, is part of one company’s campaign to show stakeholders what its wind farms will look like in the ocean — and what mariners will need to know to navigate around them.


Baltimore’s startup community has a model. Now it needs to scale
by Stephen Babcock
Published June 2 in Baltimore

Excerpt: Startups can’t stay in the early stage forever.

While a young company can benefit from the early momentum of pitch wins and resources found in a community, it eventually must figure out its business model, and ultimately scale.

Hearing leading local investors describe Baltimore’s startup community at a Baltimore Innovation Week 2021 panel discussion dubbed “Strengthening Baltimore as a Hub for Innovation,” this reporter was left with the impression that the ecosystem as a whole feels a bit like a startup.

It has a base of talent, buy-in beyond early supporters and investment that is bringing attention. It has resources like incubators and coworking spaces that are providing support. As Mike Rosenbaum, an entrepreneur who founded Otterbein-based tech workforce companies Catalyte and Arena Analytics pointed out, that wasn’t the case when he was starting Catalyte 20 years ago. And that community has grown in the last decade, as a recent report from UpSurge Baltimore highlighted.

In the wide view of recent years, they’ve all started to find each other and work together more.

“It’s starting to turn into an ecosystem,” said Jeff Cherry, the founder of stakeholder capitalism-driven accelerator Conscious Venture Labs, who moved to Baltimore from New York around 2014. “It’s starting to turn into where people are connecting, trying to do things together and trying to make the whole bigger than the pieces.”

What it needs now is to scale.



As graffiti increases across the city, officials promise relief — but not to private property owners
by Ed Gunts
Published May 28 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Will the city of Baltimore clean graffiti off privately-owned buildings during Brandon Scott’s tenure as mayor or will it require property owners to clean graffiti themselves and fine them if they don’t?

That’s the question residents and business owners are asking after a City Council member promised in March that city-funded graffiti removal efforts would resume by May 1 but then Department of Public Works officials said public funds will only be used to clean city-owned buildings — not private homes, stores, churches or office buildings.

The announcement that help was on the way, followed by the clarification that the city won’t address private properties after all, has left many city residents confused about how to deal with the onslaught of graffiti that’s blighting buildings all over town, reversing years of clean-up efforts in areas such as the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.



Edith Massey: The Egg Lady in Her Own Words
by Hope C. Tarr and Kendell Shaffer
Published May 27 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: May 1982. Ronald Reagan is U.S. President. Late Night with David Letterman debuts. “I Love Rock n’ Roll” covered by Maryland’s own Joan Jett & the Blackhearts is the hot pop single. And John Waters is packing midnight movie houses with audiences drawn to his singularly shocking style of alt-films.

We are high school seniors at St. Paul’s School for Girls, one of Baltimore’s all-girls prep schools, buddied up in journalism class, and assigned one last article before graduating—a profile of a local celebrity.

Instead of our classmates’ more staid interview subjects, we decide to go big and bold with Edith “Edie” Massey. Leader of an all-girl punk rock band, Edie and the Eggs. Smutty greeting card model. Most famously, actress in a series of Waters’ dark comedies. A campy character deeply entrenched in Baltimore’s underground arts scene.

Little do we know that ours would be the last interview the Egg Lady (her character, Divine’s mother, in Pink Flamingos) would give before her death two years later in 1984.



In Waverly, hopes are high that Red Emma’s will boost a tired commercial strip
by Adam DeRose
Published May 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The impending move of a beloved Baltimore bookstore and restaurant to the Waverly neighborhood is raising hopes of revival along the tired Greenmount Avenue commercial corridor and nearby blocks.

Red Emma’s, the anarchist-inspired cooperative, is purchasing a pair of vacant buildings to create what members and founders hope will be a “permanent home” as it leaves the Mount Vernon location it has occupied since 2018.

In preparation, Red Emma’s staff have been reaching out to their new community, learning what their neighbors want and how the cooperative can contribute to a sense of place. Co-founder Kate Khatib said the pandemic’s effects on the restaurant and bookshop’s operations gave member-owners an opportunity to re-evaluate its mission and future.

“We were working hard to really make this business successful, but we were not leaving ourselves enough time to do the deep community-focused work that Red Emma’s is known for and what was really important to us,” Khatib said.



Even after Strong City’s mismanagement is exposed, there’s been no help for the victims
by Strong City Baltimore Coalition
Published May 29 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: A grave injustice is being swept under the rug in Baltimore’s nonprofit sector.

Strong City Baltimore, a historically White-led fiscal sponsorship organization, continues to cause harm and injury to dozens of mostly Black-led community organizations and neighborhood associations whose finances it handles.

The mismanagement and lack of transparency impacts tens of thousands of people, including youth, parents, homeless people, survivors of violence and other vulnerable populations.

The damage is real, quantifiable and well-known to the public since it was revealed last August by the Baltimore Brew and covered in multiple subsequent articles by local and national media.

“Strong City Baltimore: A Fiscal Sponsor Melts Down” was the headline on a September piece in the Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ). With all this publicity, why are these serious problems being allowed to continue?



Header image: Ocean City government image, published in Maryland Matters

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