Nate Loewentheil - A compromise on illegal gun possession in Baltimore: Treat minimum sentences like an emergency public health measure

Last week I was at a vigil for a young man named MJ in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. A few days earlier, he had been shot 15 times after leaving a pool party. His girlfriend organized the vigil. For the first hour, she was calm and collected. Then her two-year old son – MJ’s son – started crying, and her grief burst forth. Between tears and cries and shouts of anger, she blamed the streets that had taken her son’s father and begged the crowd to put the guns down. To try to control the rapid growth in gun violence and get guns of the street, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis are pushing a new city ordinance that would impose a one-year minimum sentence for carrying an illegal firearm in Baltimore. I applaud this effort. (Md. Reporter)

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Zeke Cohen: Mandatory gun sentencing won’t stem Baltimore’s bloodshed

My most painful moment as a City Councilman was watching two mothers of slain sons meet earlier this month at a Unity Rally. By all accounts, their children were superb young men. Neither one had ever been in trouble. They looked forward to bright futures. The two mothers – one black and one white – embraced and wept. I cried, too. The killings in our city are demoralizing. Families and entire communities have been ripped apart by bullets. It feels like we are all living in a thick fog of fear, stress and grief. (Brew)

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Golden parachutes in Towson

Congratulations to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for recognizing that it’s untenable for his chief administrative officer to have signed a policy allowing that same official to grant himself a severance package of up to 120 days of pay should he retire. On Friday, Mr. Kamenetz issued a statement saying he had “never viewed the policy as applicable to the County Administrative Officer” — although it clearly said it was, in the first sentence — “and now I have clarified the issue” by removing that position from the list of those eligible for the benefit. But the executive needs to think a little more deeply about a policy that still awards a handful of top county employees with a payout far beyond what front-line county workers might expect, much less what virtually all of those in the private sector receive. (Balt. Sun)

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Joseph Mack: Even if you win in arbitration, you still lose

Congress recently began a fast track process to repeal a new rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that protects consumers’ right to band together in class action lawsuits when companies engage in widespread wrongdoing. The saga of the Martin-Bowens of Glen Burnie shows why preserving the rule is important. (Balt. Sun)

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Tsunami or high tide?

Frederick political leaders looking at the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau might be tempted to believe that the long-predicted “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers moving to the county just might not happen. That would really be a mistake. The 65-and-over population growth slowed a bit, according to the July 1, 2016, estimate, from its high in 2011 and 2012. But the numbers in the report still point to a continuing rise in the older population. (News-Post)

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July 24 // Alderman Ian Pfeiffer: Hard fiscal choices for city lie ahead

As a member of the City Council Finance Committee, I read with interest the recent guest columns by Alderman Jared Littmann (The Capital, July 5) and Mayor Mike Pantelides (The Capital, July 10). Both columns are well written and fact-based, but they paint very different pictures of our city's fiscal prospects. The mayor starts by touting the city's good bond ratings — the same bond ratings as eight years ago, when the city was experiencing a financial meltdown requiring two $10 million loans to make payroll and pay vendors. Relying on retrospective bond ratings as a measure of fiscal health is like using the rearview mirror to guide your car through oncoming traffic. (Capital)

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Jay Steinmetz: Md. must reform process for filling legislative vacancies

Nathaniel Oaks, who is facing federal fraud charges and refuses to resign, told the Baltimore Sun last month, “I’m a senator. I have obligations to the constituency that elected me.” Tell that to voters interested in having a say in choosing representatives who can do the hard job of improving Maryland’s largest city. Indeed, Nathaniel Oaks is a senator, but he was not elected by voters in his west Baltimore district. Instead, he was appointed to the position by the city’s powerful Democratic Central Committee in a process rigged for political insiders and one that has now burdened us with a distracted politician who must lawyer up to avoid prison. (Balt. Sun)

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Hospital, insurer need to settle their dispute

The evident collapse of congressional efforts to rewrite the nation's fundamental health care law is worrisome, but perhaps not truly frightening for those who have adequate employer-provided health coverage and don't foresee relying on Medicaid. But last week some area residents in the not-scared-yet camp — including more than 20,000 current and retired Anne Arundel County government and public school employees — got a jolt closer to home. Anne Arundel Medical Center announced that if it can't reach an agreement with CareFirst it will end its contract with the insurer, one of the state's largest, on Sept. 30. (Capital)

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