Baltimore will spend additional $51,000 for life rings and ladders to help prevent Inner Harbor drownings

Baltimore’s Department of Transportation will spend an additional $51,000 to install safety equipment around the Inner Harbor to keep people from drowning in its waters. That’s on top of an initial $116,400 approved by the Board of Estimates in May. The latest money will go towards life rings and ladders, according to the Board of Estimates, which approved the measure Wednesday. This increase will bring the city’s total contract with Marine Technologies Inc. to $181,200. The contract expires April 30. (Balt. Sun)

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Montgomery County to hold community conversations on racial equity

Montgomery County, Maryland, officials are hosting a series of conversations centered on racial disparities in housing, education and economic opportunities. Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro said there’s a very practical reason for taking on issues around racial equity. In announcing the series of community conversations, she said, “When all of our residents have access to opportunities, then everybody benefits here in Montgomery County.” A look at Census figures from 2011 to 2015 helps illustrate why officials say they want to talk about this now. Statistics compiled by the county show unemployment rates at 4 percent for white residents, 5 percent for Asian residents, 8 percent for Latino residents and 20 percent for African-Americans. (WTOP)

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‘Accountability’ Top Priority For New Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison

Baltimore City’s new police commissioner is settling in. Wednesday marked Michael Harrison’s second day as permanent police commissioner. Harrison takes over a department that is grappling with trying to solve a high violent crime rate within the city and high profile corruption. Retired BPD Sergeant Indicted Also Being Sued For 2010 Drug Plant Incident  “Yes we are conducting walking beat assignments now, but I think while walking, we really need to be more proactive in engaging and introducing ourselves to the community,” Harrison said. (WJZ-TV)

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University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals

Nine members of the University of Maryland Medical System’s Board of Directors — including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh — have business deals with the hospital network that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, a review by The Baltimore Sun has found. Members of Maryland’s business and political elite hold unpaid, voting seats on the nonprofit system’s 30-member board. They govern 11 hospitals that bring in more than $2 billion annually from patients. But as they oversee the hospitals’ work, about a third of appointed members receive compensation from the medical system through contracts with their businesses. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore Mayor Pugh: $100,000 book deal with University of Maryland Medical System was aboveboard

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh released a statement early Thursday morning defending her deal with the University of Maryland Medical System to sell 20,000 of her self-published books at a price of $100,000. Pugh, who sits on the medical system’s board of directors, said she fully conformed with legal disclosure requirements, filing a form about the deal with the Health Services Cost Review Commission. (Balt. Sun)

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Opponents share concerns about proposed solar farm in Chewsville area

Most of the almost dozen residents who spoke during a public meeting Wednesday night about a proposed solar farm south of Chewsville were opposed to the project. Opponents' concerns included the view of solar panels, the use of farmland for solar panels, commercial traffic during construction and the effect on property values. "I will get a petition going and hopefully this will be stopped," Lenora Bywaters said. She said her parents bought a 65-acre farm on Kieffer Funk Road years ago for their kids to build their dream homes, which they did. (Herald-Mail)

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Chesapeake Bay funding gutted in Trump budget: Eastern Shore leaders oppose cuts

Eastern Shore politicians on both sides of the aisle are united against the steep funding cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program in the Trump administration's proposed 2020 budget. If approved, the budget would slash funding for the program by 90 percent from its current level of $73 million to $7.3 million. The program, whose funding comes from the Environmental Protection Agency, works to improve the health of the bay through enforcement of pollution reduction and grants for cleanup efforts. It sets water quality health standards that states must work toward by 2025. (Salisbury)

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Merriweather Post resident orchestra promises ‘democratization of the arts’

When the renovated Merriweather Post Pavilion, in Columbia, Maryland, opens its doors in May, it will feature a resident orchestra like no other. Soulful Symphony attempts to bridge the gap between high art and accessibility. “The misnomer is that classical music is high, sacred art. Four hundred years ago, all of Mozart’s symphonies were Austrian folk songs. That was their pop music,” Soulful Symphony Director Darin Atwater said, explaining the same was true of Verdi and Tchaikovsky. (WTOP)

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