Evans Paull: Harbor Point a model for brownfield revitalization

Cities around the world are working to revitalize brownfield sites — areas where redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by some kind of contaminant — particularly in former waterfront industrial zones, where there is often the greatest opportunity to remake the city's image. Just as Baltimore has succeeded in redeveloping industrial sites from Canton to the Inner Harbor to Locust Point, decades of experience across America have created a base of knowledge that is allowing many such projects to move ahead safely, attracting residents and business back to our urban core. Those of us who have been in the brownfields trenches for 15 or more years see the Harbor Point redevelopment as an example of the best brownfields and smart growth practices, developed through the carefully prescribed progression of site assessments, cleanup and redevelopment construction methods that eliminate exposure pathways. (Balt. Sun)

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Ground rent injustice reinstated

Maryland's Court of Appeals has let stand a manifest injustice on what is, at best, a technical legal argument in its decision this week invalidating a key provision of the General Assembly's 2007 reform of the state's antiquated ground rent system. The ruling paves the way once again for ground rent holders to seize the homes of those who fall behind in their payments — and to keep all the proceeds, not just what they are owed. The legislature had sought to provide a much more reasonable remedy — a process by which ground rent holders could foreclose and then recover what they were owed but no more — but the court has decided that such a change violates the ground rent holders' vested property rights. That notion is debatable at best, but it leaves the state with few options left to provide true protection for those who risk losing their homes over debts that may amount only to tens or hundreds of dollars. (Balt. Sun)

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Not-so-open meetings

With all the other problems facing the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, carping about the way its board went about firing the primary contractor over the weekend would be petty indeed. Consider this, instead, an appreciation, a tribute to the board’s ingenuity and a 10-point primer for any public entity that needs to (arguably) comply with the Open Meetings Act without actually meeting in the open. (Daily Record)

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Michael Cross-Barnet: Charmed by the city

We must continue to talk and think about improving safety in Baltimore. But let's not allow that discussion to be dominated by the relentless negativity that so often drives these debates. Above all, let's stop pretending that the choice before us is between a ravaged city and some sort of utopian wonderland outside its borders. (Balt. Sun)

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Cari DeSantis: Fair pay for workers with disabilities

The General Assembly is currently debating an increase to Maryland’s minimum wage. There remains, however, a flaw in the minimum wage’s attempt to address income equality: the 14(c) certificate, which allows certificate holders to pay special minimum wages — wages less than the federal minimum wage — to workers who have disabilities, for the work being performed. (Daily Record)

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Camera-shy police

Officers have the authority to tell crowds blocking traffic or interfering with police work to disperse, to keep spectators at a reasonable distance from a crime scene and to arrest people who actually violate the law. They don't have the right to hassle people for taking pictures or videos with their cellphones. If the trend continues, it's only going to get the ACLU more work and cost a lot of departments their credibility with the public. (Balt. Sun)

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Mark Newgent: O’Malley’s record doesn’t match his rhetoric

The continuing embarrassment that is the Martin O'Malley administration's roll out of Obamacare in Maryland certainly won't bode well for the governor's presidential prospects. The problems plaguing the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange have exposed the cheap facade of Mr. O'Malley's presidential pitch: that he is the "data driven," "results oriented" leader who gets things done. (Balt. Sun)

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Stephen Tillett: Decriminalize should actually mean decriminalize!

There are currently three bills in the General Assembly that are purporting to “decriminalize” marijuana. Only one actually does so. Both SB 364 and HB 879 still impose fines for possession, which means marijuana possession would still be considered “criminal” activity in the strictest sense. On the other hand, HB 880/SB 658 actually make marijuana possession no longer a criminal offense. While the latter bills go a tad further than I would, they are at least bills that actually decriminalize marijuana. The reason I believe it is necessary to decriminalize marijuana is simple: the “war on drugs” has largely been a failure. (Capital)

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