Proposed monitoring plan for Baltimore, Justice Department consent decree to be released for public comment Jan. 8

The public will soon have a chance to comment on a proposed monitoring plan for Baltimore’s implementation of police reforms mandated under its consent decree with the Justice Department, according to an updated timeline approved by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar on Wednesday. According to the new schedule, the independent monitor team led by Venable attorney Kenneth Thompson submitted a draft plan to the city and the Justice Department on Dec. 5, which will undergo internal revisions based on comments from the parties before an updated version is released for public comment on Jan. 8. (Balt. Sun)

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Coastal bays get mediocre grade, but environmentalists are optimistic

Environmentalists are confident that small steps are being made to improve the health of the waterways that hug inland shores. It's the third year in a row of a mediocre grade on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program's report card, but an easy fix was never promised. Frank Piorko, the program's executive director, was positive about this year's average rating of a C-plus, saying it was a sign of a slow progress toward a cleaner watershed. (Daily Times)

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Fire service main topic at legislative delegation hearing

The Carroll County Legislative Delegation met for more than two hours Tuesday night in Westminster for its annual public hearing on proposed county legislation. The discussion covered Carroll County-specific bill requests for the 2017 Maryland General Assembly legislative session, ranging from a bond bill for the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster, to the regulation of pinball machines and Sunday gaming, to the salaries of members of the Carroll County Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners. (Carr. Co. Times)

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December 13 // Study finds deep racial disparities in way Baltimore allocates public construction dollars

A fresh analysis of $670 million of budgeted capital projects in Baltimore found that predominantly white neighborhoods were slated for almost twice as much spending over the past five years as mostly minority parts of the city. The findings exemplify how Baltimore continues to be shaped by a long legacy of racial segregation, according to the city Planning Department staffers who conducted the study. That legacy left Baltimore a divided city with largely black neighborhoods flanking a ribbon of largely white areas in the middle. (Balt. Sun)

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Sessions: FBI will 'probably be able to act' on request in Baltimore Det. Sean Suiter case

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the FBI “probably” would be able to act on Baltimore’s request for that agency to take over the investigation of the death of a city police detective last month, but it remained unclear when a decision would be made. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis asked the FBI on Dec. 1 to take the lead on the probe into Detective Sean Suiter’s death. The FBI has said it is cooperating in the case but has not publicly responded to the city’s request. (Balt. Sun)

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Bill would allow concealed guns in churches

A new bill in Harford County would allow residents to bring a concealed gun onto church property.  Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler announced his legislation with Senator Wayne Norman and Delegate Kathy Szeliga during a press conference on Tuesday.  Allowing guns in churches is part of the Parishioner Protection Act of 2018. Ultimately, the bill would allow law abiding members of the congregation to have a concealed handgun on the churches property. The person would have to have written permission from the governing body of the church, and must be allowed to legally possess a handgun in Maryland. (WMAR)

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Anne Arundel judge: Crofton noose verdict likely to have far-reaching impact

The judge set to rule on whether a Pasadena man committed a hate crime when he placed a noose outside a school window in Crofton said Tuesday it “should be a crime” but warned that his ruling could have far-reaching consequences. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. lamented that Maryland law is unclear and called on the General Assembly to explicitly spell out what constitutes a hate crime. He said that as currently defined in the state, a hate crime must be committed against a “person” and not a group as prosecutors allege, putting the statute at the center of the trial. (Capital)

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City says it’s prepared to shelter the homeless as winter approaches

The city’s winter shelter plan “guarantees emergency shelter for all individuals and families who request it when the temperature is 32 degrees or below, including wind chill,” said Terry Hickey, director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services. The shelter plan, he emphasized, is not tied to the Health Department’s “Code Blue” system that goes into effect when the temperature dips to 13 degrees or below. Code Blue triggers additional responses to protect “vulnerable populations” from hypothermia, including outreach workers dispatched to encourage homeless people to take shelter and private shelters asked to extend their hours and open up more beds. But such measures are not enough to deal with the city’s homeless population, says Christina Flowers, who was outside City Hall today protesting what she said was the Pugh’s administration lackadaisical response to “the homeless crisis.” (Brew)

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