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Students, parents protest Montgomery Co.’s phased return to school plan

Dozens of students and parents endured freezing temperatures Saturday to protest against a phased plan to in-person learning in Montgomery County, Maryland. Bundled up in parkas, wool caps and behind face masks, the crowd stood on Md. Route 355, in front of the county’s Board of Education headquarters, holding colorful handwritten signs that could be seen by passing cars.

Read More: WTOP
Class-action suit alleges officials mishandled COVID-19 outbreak at state-run Baltimore jail for federal pre-trial detainees

A federal lawsuit alleges that corrections officials have mishandled an outbreak of the coronavirus at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore City, leading to one-third of its inmates and staff members contracting the virus in less than one month. Filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of inmates at the facility, the class-action lawsuit names Warden Calvin Wilson and Robert Green, Maryland secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, as defendants, saying their “actions have fueled this outbreak, and they also have failed to take appropriate action in response.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Policeman watching the St Patrick's parade
Black troopers accuse Maryland State Police of racism and discrimination, state senator says

Black troopers in the Maryland Department of State Police have accused the agency of racism and discrimination, pointing to disparities in discipline and promotions, as well as underrepresentation and alleged instances of retaliation, according to a state senator. Maryland State Sen. Joanne Benson of Prince George’s County met with more than 20 Black troopers who presented her with documents detailing their claims, WRC in Washington reported Thursday. The television station did not identify the troopers because those who spoke out are violating department policy.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore solicitor finds no fault with State’s Attorney Mosby for trips, says city rules unclear for official travel

After a week of legal research, Baltimore’s solicitor concluded that rules for travel by elected officials are ambiguous and inconsistently applied, a determination that places no fault on State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her many trips to conferences around the world. City leaders released the five-page opinion Thursday from City Solicitor Jim Shea. He found “no clear answer” to the question they presented him last week. Does an elected official need approval to accept plane tickets and hotel rooms from a private organization?

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Bill to curtail Maryland student school board members’ voting power dies in House committee

A bill in the General Assembly aimed at curtailing the voting power of student school board members in Maryland died in committee last week. The legislation, filed by Del. Reid Novotny in January, received an “unfavorable” report from the House of Delegates Ways and Means committee on Feb. 12, killing the bill with a 14-7 vote. The bill would have stripped student school board members in the state of their vote if it were a “deciding vote” on a motion.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore police report a 400% increase in untraceable ‘ghost guns,’ as legislators consider action

The Baltimore Police Department said it saw a sharp increase last year in recoveries of so-called “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms that can be built from kits and are once again drawing the attention of state lawmakers. Baltimore Police Lt. Col. John Herzog told legislators Wednesday that city police recovered 126 ghost guns last year, compared to 29 seized in 2019. The amount of ghost guns seized in Baltimore last year was more than the total number of ghost guns seized statewide in 2019, when 117 were recovered.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Mayor Scott assigns group to review rules around travel by elected officials

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has asked the city solicitor and administrators to review rules that govern travel for elected officials and find ways to make them more clear. Scott announced the effort Thursday, days after the city solicitor has been asked to review the rules and determine if State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby should have sought permission before accepting flights and hotel rooms by nonprofits that want to fly her to their conferences.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Policeman watching the St Patrick's parade
Black Troopers Allege Discrimination in Maryland State Police

The leader of Maryland State Police is going before state lawmakers Thursday to address accusations of racism and discrimination inside the department. The agency told News4 it flat out denies the allegations being made by some of its Black officers. Prince George’s County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins spent the past few months investigating officers’ concerns and digging into data that appears to show some disparities between the department’s Black and white officers.

Read More: NBC 4
Can This Man Save The Baltimore Sun?

With the announcement on Tuesday that he had agreed to establish a nonprofit to buy The Baltimore Sun and other Maryland newspapers, the hotel magnate Stewart W. Bainum Jr. is set to go the route of Jeff Bezos, who went into the struggling newspaper business in 2013 by buying The Washington Post after making his fortune in another industry. Journalists in Maryland, where Mr. Bainum, 74, was born and raised, have cheered his decision to go into newspaper publishing.

Read More: New York Times
Md. stakeholders call for compromise, consistency in 2021 cannabis legalization effort

This year’s cannabis legalization effort got its first test in the court of public opinion Tuesday, and is already undergoing some significant changes. The Maryland House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on House Bill 32 (HB32), the latest of the yearly attempts by state legislators to fully legalize the possession, cultivation and use of marijuana. The legislation sets forth parameters for legal recreational cannabis production and sales in the state, and also proposes a robust framework for expanding economic opportunities for Black and brown residents and repairing some of the damage done to minority communities that are disproportionately affected by the drug’s criminalization.

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