↑ Deana Haggag
Baltimore learned that it'd be losing one of its most productive arts leaders with the news that Deana Haggag, executive director of The Contemporary, would be leaving to take the post of president and CEO at Chicago-based organization United States Artists. Haggag helped relaunch The Contemporary after years of inactivity with stunning exhibitions in underused spaces and speaker engagements that helped get dialogue rolling beyond the artist community, among other projects. But really, this move means that Baltimore will gain a trustworthy ally working at the national level—and this comes at no better time, as the new president threatens to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.
↑ Mayor Catherine Pugh
Mayor Catherine Pugh We've been keeping a close eye on Mayor Catherine Pugh's interactions with President Donald Trump. That's because with his ham-fisted and regressive stance on stopping crime (he's vowed to bring back stop and frisk)—he has the potential to do a lot of harm in Baltimore. When he issued an executive order vowing to cut off federal funds for so-called sanctuary cities, we waited to see what Pugh's reaction would be. Monday, she issued a statement saying that it did not "reflect the principles and core values of the America that I know." Further, she said, "Baltimore is and will remain a welcoming city where all people are treated with dignity and respect." Well said.
↓ Baltimore Rock Opera Society
The BROS just can't catch a break, man. First the non-profit theater collective was shut out of its rented first-floor space at the Bell Foundry—along with more than a dozen tenants on the second floor—when the building was condemned. Then, Studio 14, a long-running practice space for several Baltimore musicians and the BROS, was shuttered by the fire department for permit violations. And last week, the BROS found out that someone had broken into their workshop space at the Bell and stole about $2,000 worth of tools and equipment. This is all part of the larger conversation about DIY artists' housing, studios, and venues that the Mayor's Safe Arts Space Task Force has been grappling with since the Bell's closure.
↓ Commissioner Kevin Davis
The murder-a-day pace of the first three weeks of 2017 prompted a press conference at police HQ, where Commissioner Davis said some encouraging things about his plan for the police department to collaborate with other city agencies to get to the root causes of the now-two-year-old spike in violence. But he could not specify even which city agencies he expected to attend the next day's CompStat meeting, and meanwhile, rank-and-file cops complain that Davis' existing "zone" strategy is stretching police way too thin. Davis says he is sticking to his plan even though it hasn't yielded results yet. One bit of unalloyed good news? The five-year-old "handshake agreement" that police would not arrest murder suspects without the state's attorney's permission—an agreement which both sides denied existed—has been rescinded, Davis says.
Hey, this being the parenting issue and all, we've got news for you Baltimoreans with kids: They're getting screwed over. As City Paper previously reported, local school children have had their S-Pass access to MTA buses reduced by two hours, meaning they can only ride until 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. This makes it a lot harder for school children to participate in sports or clubs, or work a part-time job. The MTA did find $45,000 to give to millionaire Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, though, as he helps to promote the revamped Baltimore bus system, BaltimoreLink. Meanwhile, school leaders from all across Maryland made their way to Annapolis for the "begathon" to grovel for education money. According to CEO Sonja Santelises, city schools face a $130 million shortfall, and they might have to cut 1,000 jobs to get their books in order. This after Hogan's budget proposed slashing state aid to city schools by $42 million. To top it all off, The Sun recently reported that these budget deficits exist because money from casinos, once thought to be a savior for education, is being dumped into the general fund and used elsewhere. Here's the gist: No matter how many spreadsheets or figures politicians and bureaucrats exchange back and forth, city kids are getting the short end of the stick.