Saturday, April 17, 2021 |
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Commentary

Solar Industry At Work. Brian Lawson and Kenesaw Burwell work on panels that the Energy Department is using to leverage a Power Purchase Agreement with Sun Edison and Xcel Energy.
Thinking of going solar? Here’s a way to make it happen.

Kimberly Armstrong, who had solar panels installed on the roof of her house and wants others to do the same, got me thinking about Formstone, AstroTurf and planters made from old tires. I’ll tell you why. Whole blocks of brick rowhouses were once covered with Formstone. Many still are. In the mid-20th Century, salesmen came through Baltimore neighborhoods and convinced thousands of homeowners that sticking faux-stone stucco to their homes was the Next Big Thing. Formstone — John Waters called it “the polyester of brick” — played on the covetous nature of rowhouse life, the desire to keep up with Fred and Beulah next door.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Downtown Baltimore needs an inflatable duck (or the 2021 equivalent in shameless self-promotion)

As expected, the latest assessment of downtown Baltimore shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has been unkind to retail centers, tourist attractions and the hospitality industry, and that the city still grapples with shooting deaths, population loss and neglect of the once-thriving Harborplace pavilions. But, and perhaps this is the biggest surprise, the metrics really aren’t so bad, particularly in residential growth and robust property values.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Our cities are eliminating the cash security deposit as we know it. Here’s how.

Over the past decade, housing costs in the United States have risen by roughly a third as cities across the country, including in the D.C. area, have experienced a significant spike in renting costs. In our nation’s capital, a majority of residents rent their homes, and nearly 45 percent of renters pay between 31 and 50 percent of their income on rent. Lower-income communities are even more cash-strained, with more than 60 percent earning less than $20,000 per year and spending more than half of their income on rent. The problem has been exacerbated throughout the coronavirus pandemic because of record layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts.

Baltimore developer: Here’s how to reverse Baltimore’s downward spiral

A recent report showed that Baltimore City lost 25,700 jobs in 2020 — partly induced by the virus — and that it wiped out the gains made in 2019. Meanwhile, the office vacancy rate in the fourth quarter was 16.5%, (3.3 million square feet) and the office sublease availability was 1.2 million square feet, with more coming. The city’s population has fallen below 600,000, the lowest level in 100 years. Our murder rate has consistently exceeded 300 murders, while New York City, at 14 times our population, has had a similar body count.

Buckley’s budget represents sound planning and good luck

Mayor Gavin Buckley’s first budget was transformational. It did away with a lot of budget gimmicks Annapolis used to hide the cost of city services and then paid for that honest total with a property tax rate increase. There were complaints aplenty, and there still are. Expect it to be the focus of every Republican, and some Democrats, thinking it might be fun to be the mayor. So Buckley could have been excused for hoping the final budget in his four-year term — he’s asking voters for another four this fall — to be less of a challenge.

Opinion: The House Is Listening to the Wrong People for Climate Solutions

It is a sad time in Maryland, as the major climate bill of the 2021 General Assembly session failed to pass. The Climate Solutions Now Act, as originally passed in the Senate on March 12, was a strong and multi-faceted solution to the climate crisis in Maryland. The House heavily amended the bill in early April, sat on it until almost the end of session and then passed it and sent it back to the Senate with only days remaining to negotiate the very substantial differences. In the end, the House failed to accept any compromise on the bill and left Marylanders with no real path forward during the most existential and disastrous crisis it has ever faced.

Our Say: And they’re gone, Annapolis. How this Sine Die feels different.

Once upon a time, in a place called Annapolis, the end of the annual confab by state lawmakers was met with cheers. Not the confetti-and-balloon whoop-de-do presided over by the late Mikes — those legendary legislative leaders Busch and Miller now the stuff of history — but the sense of shared relief from everyday Annapolis. Nothing against state lawmakers from far-flung parts of Maryland. Many of them are genuinely nice people. There just always was a sense of emerging from 90 days in the bunker after Sine Die — loosely, Latin for till next time — was declared.

Emergent BioSolutions CEO: ‘Confrontational’ coverage of vaccine maker puts a target on ‘people doing good’

As the CEO of a 2,000-plus person Maryland-based company involved in the COVID-19 response, I have a high tolerance for the obligations that come with it — like spending endless hours trying to explain complicated manufacturing processes to reporters who just learned we existed. Or battling back the misinformation that is used to find fault with the people who are the spine of our nation’s world-leading response to this pandemic. But it pains me to watch how this negative attention affects our workforce. We talk about front line health care workers a lot, as we should. They are extraordinary, and we could not have done this without them this past year.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Johnson & Johnson: Pause may be warranted, but panic over vaccines is not

Last summer, a woman living in Bellingham, Massachusetts, was struck by lightning while sitting at her desk inside her home. The 23-year-old survived — and gained considerable media attention. After all, what were the odds of such a freak event? She is one of roughly 6.8 million Bay State residents. Indoor lighting strikes were uncommon before. They continue to be uncommon today. Presumably, even the most cautious Massachusetts residents have not stopped working at their home offices as a result. People naturally understand the nature of a lightning strike and the tiny risk involved. And they perhaps even trust others — experts, government officials or even neighbors — to tell them if circumstances had changed and they needed to take precautions.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Our Say: Poorly executed crack pipe initiative in Annapolis caught in the gap of perceptions on drugs

The Anne Arundel County Health Department employees who decided to distribute crack pipes in a largely Black neighborhood of Annapolis meant well. They were caught, however, in the sharp-toothed gap between those who see drug use as a public health crisis, those who see it as a crime and those still feeling the wounds of America’s war on drugs. And because the cost of that war, started through fear and ignorance in the 1980s, fell hardest on the Black community, the poorly communicated plan to address the spread of disease from shared pipes for smoking crack, heroin and meth angered and shocked many. Regardless of this bollocked campaign, the tide of public policy is irrevocably shifting toward treating drug abuse as a health issue.

The Morning Rundown

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