Release the BCPS audit

On Jan. 18, the Baltimore County Board of Education received its copy of a draft independent audit that closely examined the school system’s finances, including its technology investments. Given the fate of the last Baltimore County Public Schools’ superintendent — Dallas Dance was convicted one year ago on four counts of perjury stemming from his failure to disclose outside income, some of it related to the education-technology industry — it’s safe to assume the public’s interest in this report (and lingering lack of confidence in BCPS leadership) is running fairly high. So why hasn’t one scintilla of this document been released to the public, not an executive summary, not a heavily-redacted version, not so much as a one-sentence 5th grade book report? (Balt. Sun)

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The Reality of Working for Tips

In the drive to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, a lot of misinformation has been circulating, much of it about the tipped wage. Currently, the minimum wage for tipped workers in Maryland is $3.63 and the restaurant industry is working hard to keep it frozen at that poverty rate. I’ve been a tipped and untipped worker in restaurants for 18 years and know that tipped workers desperately need a raise. (Md. Matters)

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In the midst of West Baltimore blight, an ambition for new housing and a cup of coffee

Someone spray-painted a question on the sheet of plywood that covers the front door of one of the old lovely and abandoned three-story rowhouses near Lafayette Square in West Baltimore: “Why no Starbucks here?” I suppose this was meant to be ironic in that dystopian way we’ve grown accustomed to since the Freddie Gray uprising of nearly five springs ago. But for Matthew King, an earnest young man with a background in finance and real estate who wants to make a difference in Our City of Perpetual Recovery, it’s a real question: Why no Starbucks? (Balt. Sun)

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The House finally voted to support D.C. statehood. It’s a needed step.

Sweeping legislation passed by the House aimed at getting the influence of money out of politics and expanding voting access includes a general endorsement of statehood for the District of Columbia. The bill, championed by Democrats, has little chance of getting floor time in the Republican-controlled Senate, much less winning passage or being signed into law by President Trump. But it was the first time that a chamber of Congress has voted to support statehood, and that hopefully means the long-standing disenfranchisement of D.C. residents in Congress will finally get the attention it deserves. (Wash. Post)

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Undercover volunteer poses as pregnant at 'fake women's health centers' to gauge service

“Are you feeling like you’ve made a mistake?” she said when my pregnancy test flashed positive. I was in a fake women’s health center in Southern Maryland, being “counseled” by a woman with no medical qualifications. “Yeah,” I mumbled, knowing I wasn’t pregnant. I was part of an undercover investigation into how these fake health centers — also known as “crisis pregnancy centers” — push anti-choice propaganda. Volunteers posed as young women seeking pregnancy tests and information. I often posed as an 18-year old college student who had just had sex with her boyfriend for the first time. (Balt. Sun)

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Brexit has devastated Britain’s international reputation — and respect for its democracy

In Madrid last week, a senior politician told me that he was watching the Brexit crisis with growing astonishment. “England, the mother of parliaments,” he said, shaking his head. “We’ve looked up to them for so long.” Meanwhile an Italian friend who arrived in London on a delayed train — French customs officers are having a pre-Brexit strike at the Gare du Nord in Paris, delaying London-bound trains and demanding extra compensation — was also amazed. (Wash. Post)

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Pimlico Race Course worth saving

I am not a horseman, nor am I a regular attendee of, or bettor on, live horse racing, although I have been to Charles Town, in West Virginia on outings with a group and usually stop by the track at Timonium when attending the fair, but I do have an opinion on the machinations between the Stronach Group and those who wish to keep the Preaknessand other racing at the venerable Pimlico Race Oourse. Historically, the hill top where the current racetrack sits has been used for that purpose since 1870, with the Preakness Stakes being run there since 1873. Some of the greatest horses ever raced there. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Ignition Interlocks Should Be Required for All Drunk Drivers, Even 1st-Time Offenders

Mothers Against Drunk Driving fought for years to make ignition interlocks mandatory for every person convicted of drunk driving in Maryland. Yet this lifesaving measure became law only after the tragic death of a Montgomery County police officer. And it still doesn’t go far enough. Noah Leotta, 24, was on a special DUI assignment the night of Dec. 10, 2015, when a drunk driver struck and killed him. Thanks to the courage of his family in the face of unimaginable grief, Noah’s Law now requires first-time convicted drunk drivers to provide a sober breath before starting their vehicles for a period of six months. (Md. Matters)

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