February 12 // Can Baltimore police go back to the future?

Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa’s decision to fill his command staff with long-time department veterans and retirees gives us great pause. The department faces its greatest challenges in recent times — a combination of runaway violence, a legal imperative to reform because of a legacy of unconstitutional practices and a corruption scandal that is shocking in its scope. The situation calls for a new paradigm of policing in Baltimore, and putting the department entirely in the hands of people, like Mr. De Sousa, who have known little else in their careers than the way it has been done here before is not the most obvious way to get there. (Balt. Sun)

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Edmund J. Pezalla, M.D., MPH: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are advocates for quality, affordable prescription drugs

There is so much rancor and finger pointing these days over prescription drug prices that consumers are often left to wonder: who is fighting on their behalf? The answer: Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. Companies and public programs providing prescription drug coverage hire PBMs for their expertise, and ability to reduce drug costs by negotiating for rebates and discounts from big drug companies and drugstores. It would be too expensive and complicated for employers, or other payers, to match PBMs’ ability to reduce drug costs, while providing access. (Md. Reporter)

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Anna Walsh: Two officers were on trial, but a whole department looked guilty

Federal charges against former members of the Baltimore Police Department’s now-disbanded Gun Trace Task Force, an elite plainclothes unit, should have been shocking, but they were not surprising to Baltimore residents. The eight officers, most of whom have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, allegedly would regularly rob citizens of huge amounts of cash and drugs — “at least $300,000 in cash, three kilos of cocaine, 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin, and jewelry worth hundreds of thousands more in cash,” as Vox summarized. (Wash. Post)

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Skip Auld: Sen. Cardin critical to preserving Iran nuclear deal

Over the next three months, the fate of the Iran nuclear agreement and U.S. relations with Iran fall to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders. There is no one as important as Sen. Ben Cardin in determining the fate of this relationship. In the early 1970s, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mahallat, Iran, a small town between Tehran and Esfahan. Today, I belong to the Peace Corps Iran Association, which works to improve relations between our countries. At least 1,500 volunteers served between 1962 and 1976. We have very strong and fond memories of our Iranian friends, colleagues and communities. (Balt. Sun)

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David Zurawik: Mayor should focus more on solving Baltimore's problems. She bashes media instead

With all the monumental problems facing Baltimore today, like members of the police department being on trial in what may be the worst corruption case in the force’s history, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s remarks at a Baltimore magazine event Thursday night raised some eyebrows. Speaking at a gathering to celebrate 30 area residents featured as “visionaries” in the magazine’s February issue, Pugh wasted no time in going after the media again for Baltimore’s image problems. Even though she didn’t name them in the speech, she targeted The Baltimore Sun and one of its reporters. A spokesman for the mayor confirmed Friday that she was talking about The Sun in her remarks. (Balt. Sun)

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Promising project will have to navigate tricky waters

Look at the face of a wounded warrior or other person with physical challenges who is now able, for the first time, to actually sail a boat on the Chesapeake Bay. Or look at the faces of underprivileged children who have seen not only that there’s a wider world but that one of that world’s great natural wonders is at their doorstep. Researchers may not yet have quantified what’s happening, but the benefits are real enough. (Capital)

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David Healey: Third Chesapeake Bay bridge would have lasting impact

To get a glimpse of how the Eastern Shore used to be before the Chesapeake Bay bridge, all you had to do was ask George Prettyman and Sterling Hersch. Both of these old timers grew up in the early 1900s in Rock Hall, where Sterling’s family owned the general store and George’s father was the Methodist minister. George, who wrote newspaper columns in the “I remember” style, recalled how back-to-school shopping meant a ferry trip to Baltimore — always an exciting outing for a kid from Rock Hall. Both Sterling and George are gone now, but this era before the bridge lives on in memory and legacy. (Balt. Sun)

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Gov. Larry Hogan, House Speaker Michael E. Busch make good use of bad experiences

Even in today’s polarized political landscape, some things are immune to partisanship: supporting your colleagues when they are fighting life-threatening ailments and turning these close calls into educational opportunities or an impetus to change government policies. Marylanders know a lot more about non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, since Gov. Larry Hogan was diagnosed with it in June 2015 and decided to be open with state residents about his illness and the 18 weeks of chemotherapy he endured. Doctors have since told Hogan he is free of lymphoma. But he recently had to have a 31/2-hour procedure to dealt with a non-life-threatening form of skin cancer. (Capital)

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