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The News: Baltimore Mask Mandate, Librarians to the Rescue, Restaurants Denied Funding

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A Love Letter to The Crown

This week’s Baltimore news includes: Baltimore restaurants get no relief, what happened to Harborplace, the City masks up again, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Technical.ly Baltimore, The Trace, and other local and independent news sources.

 

 

Faidley’s restaurant in Lexington Market was shut out of federal restaurant relief funds, while Phillip’s Seafood received $5 million

All or nothing: Two-thirds of Baltimore restaurants get zilch from federal relief fund
by Adam DeRose
Published August 10 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: After a shutdown in the spring of 2020, the Golden West Café in Hampden muscled through the pandemic by adding outdoor seating, increasing wages and buying protective equipment for staff.

Those expenses and more will be covered by a $709,600 grant from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. “It’s hopefully going to get us through the fall and winter,” said owner Sam Claassen.

In Mount Vernon, Patrick Hudson was anticipating a similar grant to pay off mounting debts to suppliers and utilities at The Local Oyster. Despite applying in time and being told he was eligible for $400,000 through the Small Business Administration grant program, his businesses received nothing.

 

 

Mayor Brandon Scott on Thursday announced that Baltimore will reinstate its indoor mask mandate, effective Monday, Aug. 9. Image via Facebook Live.

Baltimore to require indoor masking, Maryland to require vaccination proof from some state employees
by Marcus Dieterle
Published August 5 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: With Delta variant coronavirus cases on the rise, Baltimore City will resume an indoor mask requirement, regardless of vaccination status, starting at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 9, Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan said he will not reinstate a statewide mask mandate at this time.

Maryland will, however, require state employees who work in congregate settings with “vulnerable” individuals to show proof that they have been vaccinated. If those employees are unable to show vaccination proof, they will be required to wear a mask and be regularly tested for COVID-19. Those requirements will go into effect Sept. 1.

Scott and Hogan addressed the city and state’s rise of COVID-19 cases during back-to-back press conferences Thursday afternoon.

City and state officials stressed the need for residents to get vaccinated, especially as the Delta variant, more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus, has become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States.

 

Baltimore Bets on a New Type of First Responder: The Librarian
by J. Brian Charles
Published August 6 in The Trace

Excerpt: One day in June, the employees of the Enoch Pratt Free Library gathered online to learn something new: how to de-escalate conflict, mediate grief, and help people feel better about themselves.

They got instruction from Lawrence Brown, a professor at Morgan State University who trains organizations on racial equity, then broke out into smaller private sessions where they had tough, but open, conversations about healing their own and their city’s trauma.

“There was conversation about understanding history and the impact on neighborhoods in current Baltimore,” said Heidi Daniel, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system. “We are focused on questioning how the library can play a role in healing inequities and examining our internal policies and practices to do better work.”

That session was part of an experimental effort by Baltimore leaders, who hope to enlist city agencies, starting with the library, to answer a big question: How does a city that has suffered trauma for decades, including over 190 homicides just this year, begin to heal? Baltimore is teaching its city staff how to spot and assist people dealing with that trauma, and turning city facilities into places where they can learn to cope and, in turn, assist their neighbors in processing their own pain and suffering.

 

 

A Baltimore city policeman looks on during a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 24, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Majority Black Baltimore Neighborhoods Endure the Most Car Stops
by Brandon Soderberg
Published August 9 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: According to car stop data for June and July of this year, the Baltimore Police Department is making the most car stops in the city’s poor, Black neighborhoods.

In total, in June 2021, police made a total of 2,933 car stops, and in July 2021, 3,046 car stops.

In Baltimore City’s majority Black and heavily-divested Ninth District in West Baltimore, police made 516 car stops in June 2021 and 557 car stops in July 2021.

Those Ninth District stops make up approximately 18% of each month’s stops. These are by far the most stops in the city. The second highest number of stops during the past two months were in the Seventh District, which had 324 stops in June 2021 and 462 in July 2021.

The Ninth District contains some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, which are often less walkable and bike-able than other whiter parts of the city and are beholden to the city’s poor transit infrastructure—which puts more people into cars in areas where police are more apt to make traffic stops.

The 2016 report “Over-Policed Yet Underserved” by the West Baltimore Commission on Police Misconduct and the No Boundaries Coalition details the disproportionate policing West Baltimoreans experience.

 

 

Steel workers at Sparrows Point in September 1940. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Can Past Be Prologue at Renewed Sparrows Point?
by Ron Hamlett
Published August 11 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Maryland has embarked on a transformative course toward a world that runs on green energy.  With the recent announcement that a prominent wind energy developer will expand its operations in southeastern Baltimore County, home of the iconic Bethlehem Steel Corp, the project has the potential to not only deliver on a clean energy economy, but also to correct a multitude of generational injustice.

At this critical inflection point for America, in the post-George Floyd era, lies the opportunity to create equity in wind energy jobs and to achieve a rebirth of the steel industry in Sparrows Point.

The federal government has established a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, while protecting biodiversity. President Biden envisions that meeting this target will lead to the creation of tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs, and trigger billons in investments per year in projects like those off the coast of Ocean City.

Achieving this national goal is expected to create a cumulative demand of more than 7 million tons of steel – that’s equivalent to 4 years of output for a typical U.S. steel mill.

The repurposed Bethlehem Steel site reminds me of my family and the thousands of African American laborers, ironworkers, ship welders, and steelworkers employed there during the plant’s heyday who gained a firm foothold in the middle class. During the first 8 years of my childhood, we lived in Turner Station across Bear Creek from Sparrows Point. My father was a tractor operator and my uncle worked in the coke ovens.

 

 

WATERCOLOR RENDERING BY MAHAN RYKIEL ASSOCIATES AND EE&K ARCHITECTS FROM THE 2007 PRATT STREET DESIGN COMPETITION. IN THE PROPOSAL, EXISTING HARBORPLACE PAVILIONS HAVE BEEN TORN DOWN, PRATT STREET HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A TWO-WAY BOULEVARD, AND THE LIGHT STREET SPUR REMOVED TO OPEN ACCESSIBILITY TO THE INNER HARBOR. ILLUSTRATION BY DARIUSH WATERCOLORS

Troubled Waters: The opening of Harborplace sparked a waterfront renaissance beyond Baltimore’s wildest dreams. Four decades later, has the ship sailed for the twin pavilions?
by Ron Cassie
Published August 11 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Anthony Hawkins is sitting at the amphitheater at Harborplace, between the landmark pavilions he helped establish four decades ago. It’s a beautiful, mid-morning day in late June. He takes a deep breath. There’s hardly a cloud in the sky. Also, hardly a soul in sight. “I’m a Baltimore boy. I’m City College. Morgan. Hopkins,” Hawkins says with emphasis. “My whole family on both sides is from Baltimore. And this pisses me off,” the 76-year-old continues with a frustrated nod toward the faded two-story green pavilions on either side of him. “I don’t know how else to put it.” The last time Hawkins stepped inside the twin pavilions at the intersection of Light and Pratt streets, the busiest in the city, was two years ago. He refuses to again. “Everything is closed off. You have no idea where you are going. I got so angry, it made me physically sick. I had to leave.”

Harborplace is personal to Hawkins. He was the first general manager of the iconic retail and restaurant development, overseeing pavilion operations for 15 glorious years. He’d just built a home, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and was managing other Rouse Company properties in the region when Jim Rouse himself called to tell him that he needed him to return home. That was 1977. The tall ships had come to Baltimore for the country’s bicentennial the year before, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors, including tens of thousands of Baltimoreans, to the waterfront. Rash Field was still hosting the city’s ethnic festivals and the very popular City Fair then. The “Sunny Sundays” concerts were pulling Baltimoreans to their harbor, too. But other than a promenade, and the Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center, which had both recently opened, little else in terms of built infrastructure existed at the time. Rouse, on the heels of his company’s successful Faneuil Hall Marketplace redevelopment in Boston, intended to change that. “He knew having someone who knew Baltimore to manage it was important,” Hawkins says. “Harborplace was supposed to be for the people who lived here, and it was,” Hawkins says. Ninety-percent of the businesses when it opened had local ties (including a busy comic-book store owned by Steve Geppi, this magazine’s owner). It was the belief of Rouse and former Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who famously cared little about the interests of non-Baltimoreans, that if locals came, tourists were more likely follow. But that was secondary. The point, Hawkins explains, is that Harborplace mattered to the people in charge. “At Rouse, we were hands-on, detailed-oriented. You have to be,” Hawkins says. “Tenants didn’t always like what we did. If you wanted to open a food business, you had to cook for 10 of us, including our food consultants.” The mayor, we know, operated the same way. “I’d get 5 a.m. calls from Schaefer about the trash outside Harborplace, and I didn’t even work for him. I’d tell him, ‘Our sanitation team arrives at 7. We’ll get it.’”

 

 

The Flave team at Avenue Kitchen & Bar in Hampden on Aug. 6.

With new funding and an app launched, Flave aims to support the Baltimore restaurant industry
by Stephen Babcock
Published August 11 in Technical.ly Baltimore

Excerpt: As a technologist, Jal Irani seeks ways to put his skills to work in support of local businesses. One of those was making websites for bars and restaurants. As the Towson University computer science professor built up a number of clients through the side work, he started noticing a pattern.

“They all wanted loyalty or rewards [programs] to go along with their apps,” he said, “So I thought, why not make one big one that encompasses all of the restaurants in Baltimore?”

Irani teamed with cofounder Derek Battle to build, and the result is Flave, an app that’s designed to provide incentives for eating at local restaurants. By taking a photo of their eats, users can earn “Flave Cash” that line them up for potential deals or to win a gift card. It can also be donated back to restaurants. And with those photos and other tools, Flave offers a way to browse local spots based on preferences.

 

 

Posted in 2018, Edward T Gorwell II stands beside Maryland Governor Larry Hogan outside the White Marsh Fire Station. (facebook.com/edward.gorwell)

Baltimore cop, stripped of police powers after fatally shooting unarmed teen, kept on payroll for 28 years
by Mark Reutter
Published August 11 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Baltimore’s inspector general today faulted the police department for allowing an officer – who was stripped of his enforcement powers after shooting an unarmed Black teenager in 1993 – to remain on the payroll for 28 years, collecting full benefits and generous overtime.

The officer was not identified in the public synopsis of the report, but The Brew has independently verified that the officer is Edward T. Gorwell II. (The Twitter account @TruthTi42873 has previously written about Gorwell’s continued BPD employment, pension and overtime.)

Now 52 years old, Gorwell was at the center of a case that riveted Baltimore after he killed 14-year-old Simmont Thomas, who was allegedly fleeing from a stolen car in West Baltimore when he was shot in the back.

Indicted within weeks of the incident, Gorwell claimed to have heard a gunshot before he opened fire, but no gun other than his own was found at the scene.

 

 

Stewart W. Bainum Jr. (Photo by Richard Anderson Productions as work for hire for Choice Hotels, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Stewart Bainum Jr. is advertising for help to launch a ‘high profile, well-funded’ news startup in Baltimore
by Rick Edmonds
Published August 10 in Poynter

Excerpt: Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum Jr.’s stalled plan for a nonprofit news launch in Baltimore is moving forward again.

Six postings on the Jooble site seek various mid-level executives to plan a multimedia and comprehensive news startup for the city.

A source familiar with Bainum’s thinking said plans are still preliminary, and the project might yet be found not to be feasible. But the source conceded this is a strong signal that Bainum wants to go ahead with an alternative after his attempt to put together a deal this spring to buy all of Tribune Publishing failed.

 

 

City Activists Tout Anti-Digital Redlining Act
by Emily Sullivan
Published August 10 in WYPR

Excerpt: Baltimore City teachers, students and activists are backing a bill that aims to give the Federal Communications Commission the ability to investigate internet service providers for discrimination.

The Anti-Digital Redlining Act, introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke, a New York Democrat, would also mandate that providers provide service to areas that are digitally redlined, a term advocates use to describe internet service providers’ practice of laying fiber primarily in high-income areas, while predominantly low-income users remain dependent on slower, legacy infrastructure.

“Throughout the pandemic, my family and I have had to decide who got priority to use the internet,” said Kimberly Vasquez, a 2021 graduate of Baltimore City College High School who spent her senior year dealing with unreliable WiFi. “Was my education and my sister’s education more important or the occupation of my parents, who put food on the table?”

 

 

Award-winning actor, author and philanthropist Hill Harper. (Courtesy Photo)

Hill Harper joins local leaders, activists to address vaccine-hesitant communities
by Demetrius Dillard
Published August 10 in The AFRO

Excerpt: Award-winning actor, author and philanthropist Hill Harper took a break from his busy schedule and made his way to Baltimore to join city leaders and medical experts for meaningful conversation around the emerging Delta Variant and COVD-19’s impact on Black communities.

The ongoing global health crisis has had adverse effects on Black residents in essentially every major city and has highlighted a number of health disparities, especially in Baltimore.

As of Aug. 7, roughly 283,000 Baltimore City residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the Baltimore City COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. The dashboard’s latest statistics also reveal that 35.3% of Black city residents have been fully vaccinated, while 40.7% have received at least their first or single dose.

 

 

Header image: Former Mayor William Donald Schaefer: “Harborplace is of, by, and for the people of Baltimore.” COURTESY OF UPI

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