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The News: Baltimore City Police Oppose Vaccine Mandate, Franchot Chooses Running Mate, Solar Powered Oysters

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This week’s Baltimore news includes: Baltimore Banner makes news, Baltimore brightens up as Pittsburgh powers down, Mount Vernon residents locked out of planning, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Technical.ly Baltimore, The Real News Network, and other local and independent news sources.

 

 

Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shocking No One, Baltimore City Cops Join Growing Nationwide Opposition to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
by Brandon Soderberg
Published October 27 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: As of last week, all Baltimore City employees are required to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or get weekly COVID-19 tests if they want to continue working for the city. Reflecting a troubling national trend that perpetuates the ongoing public health crisis under the guise of “freedom,” Baltimore City’s police union is speaking out against Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s vaccination mandate.

Organized opposition to vaccination mandates for Baltimore police emerged back in August when Baltimore City’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP3) and the Baltimore City firefighters’ unions released a joint statement responding to Mayor Scott’s policy.

“It is our desire to remain engaged in collective bargaining over the implementation of this policy,” the Aug. 31 statement said. “We look forward to working amicably with members of Mayor Scott’s administration to ensure this policy and its associated procedures are implemented fairly and equitably while protecting our member’s [sic] personal concern and autonomy.”

The police union’s stance has not eased since then. Earlier this month, FOP3 President Mike Mancuso encouraged police officers not to reveal their vaccination status to the city and continued the argument that this was about workers’ rights.

“Until the city responds to our right to bargain these issues, or the courts intervene, I suggest you do nothing in regard to revealing your vaccination status as it is outlined in the city’s policy,” Mancuso wrote to police union members. “Obviously, this is an individual choice on how each of you handles this situation. Whatever choice you make FOP3 and I will be there to support you in your decision.”

See also:

Maryland Governor Doubles Down on the Lie that Increased Police Spending Increases Safety
by Brandon Soderberg
Published October 20 in The Real News Network

 

 

Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) announced that Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker (D) is joining his gubernatorial ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor. Campaign photo.

Franchot Taps Pr. George’s Councilmember Anderson-Walker as Running Mate
by Bruce DePuyt
Published October 27 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Gubernatorial candidate Peter V.R. Franchot (D) made good on his pledge to choose an African American woman to be his running mate on Wednesday, tapping Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker (D) to join his ticket.

Anderson-Walker, the founder of a commercial real estate brokerage firm based at National Harbor, is in her first term and will give up a relatively safe seat to team with the state’s four-term comptroller.

In an interview at his Bowie headquarters, Franchot said, “We interviewed a lot of very impressive people from all over the state, but Monique stood out.”

“She’s an unconventional politician, like me,” the comptroller said. “She actually believes in results, not rhetoric.”

 

New Jersey developer and contract purchaser Joseph Novoseller is looking to subdivide the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and the Asbury House, a church office building next to it, so he could sell the house separately.

Mount Vernon residents told they won’t be allowed to testify at Planning Commission hearing tomorrow
by Ed Gunts
Published October 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Except: Mount Vernon residents who challenged a developer’s plan to subdivide a landmark church property in their neighborhood have been told they won’t be allowed to testify when Baltimore’s Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the matter on Thursday.

The hearing involves Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church at 2 East Mount Vernon Place and Asbury House, the church office building next to it at 10 East Mount Vernon Place. Last October, the Planning Commission approved a request from New Jersey developer and contract purchaser Joseph Novoseller to subdivide Asbury House from the main church so he could sell the house separately.

When the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association (MVBA) challenged the decision in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Judge Jeannie Hong sided with the community association, negating the subdivision approval and sending the issue back to the Planning Commission for another hearing.

 

 

Once known as “hell with the lid off” for the heat and flames that rose from its steel mills, Pittsburgh has enacted the county’s first Dark Sky ordinance. (dailykos.com)

As Pittsburgh decides to dim, downtown Baltimore prepares to light up
by Mark Reutter and Fern Shen
Published October 25 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Just weeks before the City Council and Mayor Brandon Scott approved a bill to create a special downtown district for large digital billboards, Pittsburgh’s elected officials moved in a decidedly different direction.

In early September, the city council approved a measure introduced by Mayor Bill Peduto to reduce light pollution in public parks, city-owned buildings and along the streets.

The legislation mandates the use of “dark sky” principles – such as motion sensors, dimmers and timers, and cooler temperature bulbs – to reduce artificial light that affects human health by disrupting the circadian rhythm, harms plants and animals and wastes energy, while having little or no effecton pedestrian safety or street crime. (A 2020 study in Chicago actually showed a 21% increase in reported crimes in brightly lit alleyways.)

Pittsburgh is now developing plans to retrofit or replace 35,000 city streetlights with lower-temperature LED bulbs that look warmer and softer and improve night vision by reducing glare, according to the Carnegie Mellon University researchers who helped draft the legislation.

Mayor Peduto says the bill not only shows “our commitment to the reduction of energy consumption and elimination of waste” in an era of global warming, but will bring “equity” to Black neighborhoods where overlighting occurs most frequently.

See also:

Can electronic billboards revive downtown?
by Klaus Philipsen
Published October 25 in Community Architect Daily

 

 

Illustration by Alicia Corman

In It For The Long Haul
by Lauren LaRocca
Published October 26 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: It started with shortness of breath. While taking a basket of laundry downstairs to the basement, Mallory Stanislawczyk got winded, which had never happened before. Hours later came the low-grade fever, nausea, and the worst body aches she’d ever had. She took five hot showers that first day of COVID-19 in December 2020 and started taking Tylenol and Advil around the clock.

Seventeen days into COVID, Stanislawczyk went to the emergency room because she was worried about her breathing difficulties. They ordered bloodwork and gave her a chest X-ray. Everything came back normal, no signs of pneumonia or clots.

“They gave me an inhaler, started me on oral steroids, and sent me home. And slowly the weeks went by, and I just wasn’t improving.”

By then, Stanislawczyk had lost her sense of smell and began experiencing brain fog and worsening fatigue. Doctors were advising she’d feel better before too long. But a week later, her heart was racing after shoveling snow in the driveway—also unusual. Thinking it would pass, she tried returning to her job as a pediatric nurse practitioner in Frederick, but she couldn’t manage it. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t get through a sentence without having to take multiple breaths.

January 7, 2021 was her last day of work. Ten months later, Stanislawczyk is still unable to return to her job and struggles, at times, to care for herself—let alone her 2-year-old daughter, who has also tested positive and exhibited symptoms of long COVID.

 

 

Baltimore's Inner Harbor. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Bainum unveils plans for new Baltimore Banner news site — and hires Kimi Yoshino, a top L.A. Times editor, to run it
by Sarah Ellison
Published October 26 in the Washington Post

Excerpt: Stewart Bainum was a novice to the news business when his name first emerged earlier this year as a would-be savior.

The Maryland hotel magnate made a bold bid to buy the Baltimore Sun and its parent, Tribune Publishing, in what he described as a mission to restore local ownership and keep the newspapers out of the hands of a hedge fund with a history of stringent cost-cutting at its media properties.

Bainum’s months-long effort fell short — but he ended it, he said at the time, with a renewed conviction “that a better model for local news is both possible and necessary.”

Now he’s putting that belief to the test. Bainum has hired Kimi Yoshino, a top editor from the Los Angeles Times, to help him launch the Baltimore Banner, a nonprofit digital upstart dedicated to local coverage of the city, and committed $50 million of his own fortune to get it started.

The plan, Bainum said, is not to compete with the Sun but to cover the news in a city that he said has more than enough for one outlet. “Those reporters have their hands tied behind their back, and they’re still doing a good job,” he said, noting the Sun won a Pulitzer in 2020 for investigating corruption in the mayor’s office. “There’s a lot of damn talent there. And we just want to add to it.”

See also:

What we should hope for if Baltimore gets a ‘newspaper war’
by Jon Allsop
Published October 18 in Columbia Journalism Review

 

 

The Solar Oysters platform is loaded up.

A solar-powered aquaculture platform is growing thousands of oysters in Baltimore’s harbor
by Stephen Babcock
Published October 22 in Technical.ly Baltimore

Excerpt: Thanks to the Trash Wheel family, Baltimore’s harbor is famous for solar-powered inventions that help waterways. The latest addition will bring a new tool to help the health of the Chesapeake Bay: oysters.

Solar Oysters, a venture developed through a joint venture between the Maritime Applied Physics Corporation and the EcoLogix Group, Inc., created an automated aquaculture platform to help bivalves grow.

On Thursday, members of the team from the venture and Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) loaded about 300,000 spat-on-shell oysters onto the platform in the harbor.

Using solar power, the platform has tools to rotate the large cages where the oysters are growing and clean them. Once they are grown, the oysters will be added to sanctuary reefs that are designed to improve the health of the Bay, and grow its population. Oysters are natural “filter-feeders,” so expanding their ranks is a line of defense against nitrogen, and other kinds of chemicals that lead to algal blooms that cut off oxygen and wreak havoc on marine life in the Bay. Plus, the native oyster population has dropped due to a combination of factors both manmade and natural, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.

 

 

 

Mayor Brandon Scott, flanked by Safe Streets members, speaks at a Tuesday news conference in Park Heights, where he announced that $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding will go toward violence prevention programming.

Scott commits $50 million of ARPA funds toward violence prevention programming
by Emily Sullivan
Published October 26 in WYPR

Excerpt: Baltimore will put $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding toward violence prevention efforts over the next three years, including support for gunshot victims and citizens returning from prison, Mayor Brandon Scott announced Tuesday.

The allocation marks the second major initiative the Democrat has funded using $641 million in ARPA money. He announced $80 million for the city’s health department last week.

“Curing Baltimore’s violence is my top priority as mayor and the dollars we invest in today in this vision based on equity, healing, public health and trauma-informed practices will build safer neighborhoods today while paying even deeper dividends in the future,” Scott said at a news conference in Park Heights.

The money will flow toward the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE), which Scott established shortly after entering office last December.

“The streets, our residents and our neighborhoods are depending on us not only to end gun violence, but to also do the work further upstream associated with healing our communities, with providing real justice, with ensuring high quality lives for all Baltimoreans, regardless of their ZIP code,” MONSE Director Shantay Jackson said. “We’re only able to do this when we all come together to co-produce public safety. We’re more powerful when we work together.”

 

 

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott speaks during a news conference to announce the city’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup at M&T Bank Stadium on July 15. Julio Cortez/AP Photo

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott says Lamar Jackson can be a game-changer in his city
by William C. Rhoden
Published October 26 in The Undefeated

Excerpt: A few hours before the Baltimore Ravens were scheduled to host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, I sat down with Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott. The subject was Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

I had two general questions: How important was Jackson to the city? And how could the NFL’s most dynamic player help Scott advance his ambitious agenda, which includes reducing the gun violence that has plagued this city?

Scott grew up in the Park Heights neighborhood of Baltimore. When he was elected last year at age 36, Scott became Baltimore’s youngest mayor in more than a century. Scott ran on a progressive platform of change. He vowed to:

  • Reverse the trend of more than 300 killings a year since 2015.
  • Motivate young people struggling to learn and thrive in the Baltimore City Public School system.
  • More effectively address the pervasive and persistent issue of vacant houses and overall blight.
  • Bring more equity to chronically disenfranchised communities in a city that has accommodated systemic racism for generations.

Since Jackson entered the league in 2018, I have spent thousands of words either defending him from critics who treat him like a running back who can throw or advocating for him to be recognized as an elite, mold-shattering, blue-blooded quarterback.

 

 

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) speaks at the seventh annual State of Business Address hosted by the Maryland Free Enterprise Foundation. Photo by Hannah Gaskill.

Hogan Talks Economic Recovery, Slams Progressives At State of Business Address
by Hannah Gaskill
Published October 26 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) talked economic recovery and took shots at the legislature for their progressive economic and criminal justice policies at the seventh annual State of Business Address in Anne Arundel County on Tuesday afternoon.

The event was hosted by the Maryland Free Enterprise Foundation, which promotes business-friendly legislation in Annapolis.

Maryland Commerce Secretary and gubernatorial candidate Kelly M. Schulz (R) introduced Hogan to the sea of business leaders.

She mentioned their partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic as she touted the governor’s economic accomplishments over the past seven years, noting that three days after he declared a state of emergency in March 2020, the two of them met to discuss the small business grant and relief loans.

“He was the very first governor in the nation … to do so,” Schulz said before the cheering crowd. “And they learned from us.”

 

 

Header image: Drone footage of the Solar Oysters platform. (Courtesy photo) via Technical.ly Baltimore

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