Lighted inflatables, art exhibits, Merriweather performances planned for Columbia’s 50th

When making plans for Columbia's 50th birthday celebration, organizers wanted to focus on the communities and how to celebrate them, according to Marlys East, managing director of the nonprofit Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration. Throughout the 27-week celebration, a variety of events, including art shows, musical performances, lectures and more, will highlight the many faces of Columbia. Festivities begin on March 19 at the Mall in Columbia with a proclamation by County Executive Allan Kittleman and a performance of the national anthem by Toby's Kids. (Balt. Sun)

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Dozens of groups, individuals register thoughts on Baltimore, DOJ consent decree in court

Written comments from a dozen groups and 47 individuals expressing a range of opinions on the proposed consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and Baltimore were submitted as part of a 195-page filing in U.S. District Court this week. Most of the commenters offered their support for the police reform agreement, though often with a few recommendations to improve it. Others registered their outright opposition to the deal. (Balt. Sun)

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Md. Legal Aid: Elimination of Legal Services Corp. would be ‘catastrophic’

The proposed elimination of the federal Legal Services Corp. under the President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget would have “catastrophic” effects on Maryland Legal Aid, the state organization’s leader said Thursday. Maryland Legal Aid receives more than $4 million annually – 15 percent of its budget –  from LSC to provide services to low-income Marylanders. (Daily Record)

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Carroll County budget outlook for fiscal year 2018 'modestly improved'

Carroll's Board of County Commissioners dove into conversations Thursday about the fiscal year 2018 budget process, discussing factors to keep in mind moving forward, and setting a plan to reevaluate and confirm priorities before work sessions begin in April. There are a few key things to keep in mind as they head into the budget process, the first of which is that the revenue outlook heading into FY18 has "modestly improved," said Ted Zaleski, director of the county Department of Management and Budget. But, he said, another thing to remember is that pressures to maintain service levels remain strong, despite cuts after the recession. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Baltimore prosecutors clear police officers in three 2016 shooting incidents

Baltimore prosecutors have cleared police officers of criminal wrongdoing in three shooting incidents from last year, according to police records. Among the incidents is the April 2016 shooting of a man wearing an animal outfit who claimed to have a bomb outside the studios of television station Fox45. Police said at the time that the 25-year-old man was shot three times by members of the city SWAT team after he ignored commands to stop. The man survived his injuries and was later committed to a hospital to receive treatment for schizophrenia. Sgt. Frederick Gilbart Jr. and Officers Robert Taylor and Brian Loiero were named as the officers involved in the shooting and will not face charges following prosecutors' decision. (Balt. Sun)

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Frederick to remove Justice Taney statue

A statue of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision affirming slavery will be removed from a City Hall courtyard in western Maryland this weekend. Frederick officials announced Thursday that busts of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney and a bust of Maryland's first governor and slave owner Thomas Johnson will be moved Saturday. Both will go to Mount Olivet Cemetery, where Johnson is buried. The Taney statue was erected in 1931. He practiced law in Frederick before becoming the nation's fifth chief justice. (WMAR-AP)

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Former city housing worker acquitted in 'sex for repairs' case

The first of two former city public housing workers accused of demanding sexual favors for repair work was acquitted Thursday after the alleged victim who was expected to testify did not appear in court. Doug Hussy, 62, was cleared of charges of second-degree assault, fourth-degree sex offense, harassment and misconduct in office. A jury had been picked and opening arguments were slated to go forward Thursday afternoon when prosecutors told Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn that they were unable to reach the alleged victim. (Balt. Sun)

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March 16 // Trump budget would eliminate funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup

President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate federal funding for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest program to restore a body of water in U.S. history, just as the effort reaches its halfway point. The Environmental Protection Agency awards millions in grants each year to the District, nonprofit agencies and six states in the bay watershed — Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware — to pay for restoration. (Wash. Post)

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