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Commentary

Obama’s herring: Removing dams on the Patapsco brings back a silvery little fish

Jim Thompson and William Harbold discovered silver in a place in the Patapsco River where it had not been seen in more than a century. The discovery occurred last Friday around 10 a.m. about 3 miles downstream of Ellicott City and just upstream of where the Bloede Dam used to be. As discoveries go, it was hardly sensational; it did not send shock waves through the stock exchange.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Viewpoint: Give Baltimore DHCD the resources it needs to solve vacant housing

Baltimore City has over 15,500 officially documented vacant houses — no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. More shocking is just how hard it has become to buy a vacant house in Baltimore. One reason is that the number of vacants available through public sources has reached astoundingly low levels. The number available from Baltimore City through its Vacants to Value program is down to about 275.

The pandemic is not over: Wear your mask

There is a natural human instinct to declare victory before it is actually achieved. From the Chicago Tribune’s infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline to wide receiver DeSean Jackson spiking the football before he reached the end zone that cost the Philadelphia Eagles a touchdown some years back, people under stress can make bad choices. Sometimes, the impact is merely comical as with a football game or instant collector’s item newspaper. But then there are times when such pronouncements can have deadly consequences. Now happens to be one of those times.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Working together across the aisle for a better Maryland

Last summer, the citizens of Maryland learned from The Baltimore Sun’s reporting that the former executive director of the Maryland Environmental Service (MES) spent lavishly in his tenure and ultimately negotiated a significant payout when he left to become the governor’s chief of staff that summer. This at a “not-for-profit business unit of the state of Maryland,” according to the MES website. The spending raised many questions about the organization’s oversight and whether officials were abusing its resources for personal gain rather than in alignment with the organization’s public mission to “provide operational and technical services to protect and enhance the environment for the benefit of the people of Maryland.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Fix Maryland’s failing system for public financing of gubernatorial campaigns

The Fair Campaign Financing Fund, Maryland’s nascent attempt at public financing of political campaigns, dates to the 1970s and has modestly helped level the playing field for at least a handful of candidates for governor. Its purpose was to reduce the influence of deep-pocketed special interests and perhaps give nontraditional candidates a better shot at election. The fund’s biggest success story to date may well be none other than the state’s current leader, Larry Hogan, who in 2014 was the first successful candidate for governor to use public financing. The choice made a lot of sense.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Solomon Jones: George Floyd was somebody and his death can’t be in vain

As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd by mercilessly pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck, begins this week, I am convinced that Black people need healing as much as we need justice. There is a persistent heartache that comes with the knowledge that some of those who are sworn to protect Americans believe that doing so involves killing citizens who look like me. That pain is coupled with anger each time I see a still from the video of George Floyd’s death—a still in which Chauvin stares defiantly into a camera as Floyd dies beneath his knee.

Our Say: Maryland should make Juneteenth a state holiday celebrating freedom

Juneteenth is the celebration of Black American emancipation that started in Texas, marking the date in 1865 that enslaved people there were told they had been freed two years earlier. A group of Maryland lawmakers wants to make this a state holiday, giving state employees a paid day off and closing state offices, courts and other official functions. If it is approved, it is likely that local governments will follow and pressure will build for local schools still holding classes that late in the spring to join the shift.

Opinion: Suppliers Respond to AARP on Retail Energy Competition

Maryland Matters published a commentary last month from Tammy Bresnahan, the director of advocacy for AARP Maryland regarding the “deregulated” retail energy market (“Annapolis Showdown on Utility Rip-Offs,” Feb. 23). The Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) vehemently disagrees with this article and believes such assertions from AARP are not only misleading, but dangerous. Bresnahan’s statement, “The Senate Finance Committee has voted the bill out with an amendment favorable to the industry,” is both inaccurate and misleading. The fact is the committee’s amendments provide that any customer who is receiving energy assistance will receive a rate at or below the utilities’ prices and the elimination of early termination fees.

computer internet
Editorial: Ransomware attacks are crippling cities, schools and hospitals. Congress can help.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the economy, but members of at least one profession are making out better than ever: cybercriminals. The average ransom paid by hacked organizations nearly tripled last year over the previous year; the highest reported ransom paid, $10 million, also was double the previous year’s high. Worse, many of the victims are those most essential to keeping communities safe, healthy and in good working order: state and local governments, schools and hospitals. Ransomware attacks use malicious software to lock a target out of its files — until the target pays to regain access to its own computers.

Lane: Here’s some hope for supporters of criminal justice reform

How many more months in prison do federal courts give Black drug offenders as opposed to comparable White offenders? The correct answer, through fiscal 2018, is: zero. The racial disparity in federal drug-crime sentencing, adjusted for severity of the offense and offender characteristics such as criminal history, shrank from 47 months in 2009 to nothing in 2018, according to a new research paper by sociologist Michael Light of the University of Wisconsin. For federal crimes of all types, there is still a Black-White discrepancy, but it, too, has shrunk, from 34 months in 2009 to less than six months in 2018.

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