NFL free agency is upon us and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome wasted no time in signing running back Danny Woodhead and safety Tony Jefferson to contracts last week. Jefferson was considered one of the best defensive backs available this offseason, and having him play alongside Eric Weddle next season should boost a secondary that was a weak spot. Woodhead, meanwhile, is a great pass-catcher out of the backfield who will be another weapon for his eliteness, quarterback Joe Flacco—the signing became even more pivotal when it was announced Kenneth Dixon would be suspended four games for PEDs. Perhaps the best move was the five-year extension given to nose tackle Brandon Williams, one of the premier defensive linemen in football who many predicted would be playing elsewhere in 2017. Newsome has been able to free up some salary cap room by releasing pricey veterans Lardarius Webb and Elvis Dumervil, too. There's still work to be done, but all these moves show promise.
↑ Poly and Patterson
The city's hoops talent was on full display in College Park last week, with the Poly Engineers and Patterson Clippers taking home the 3A and 2A state boy's basketball championships, respectively. As you might recall from December of last year, CP photog and Poly alum Reginald Thomas II has been tracking the Engineers' season, a year after they won the city championship for the first time in school history but fell short in the states. Part two of that series, which is in this issue, tracks the team through the end of the season, a disappointing loss in the city championship, and its triumph in the state title game. Forward De'Vondre Perry, who was named to The Sun's All-Metro team, sealed the deal at the free-throw line near the end of the game after the Engineers held off two Potomac charges to win 64-63. Baltimore City champions Patterson, led by point guard Gerard Mungo's 19 points, overcame a late deficit to beat Century, 49-43. "Not too many teams win state championships," Perry told The Sun. Well, here in Baltimore we've got two.
↑ Rep. Elijah Cummings
Remember last month when President Donald Trump lied about a meeting he was supposed to have with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings? Trump was all excited about it, he claimed, but Cummings backed out (the meeting was never scheduled). Well, the two actually had a real-life meeting last week, and Cummings used the time to tell Trump, respectfully, to get his shit together. Cummings said he told Trump to spend more time leading and less time tweeting. He also said Trump needs to stop painting black communities as miserable, hopeless places. And it's not just talk. Cummings, a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, is also looking deeper into potential conflicts of interest concerning Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law.
↔ City Schools
After teasing a plan for the city schools' budget and then announcing there was a plan to have a plan, Mayor Catherine Pugh appeared in Annapolis, along with Del. Maggie McIntosh, to lay out something a little more concrete. The city will kick in $180 million over the next three years, pulling money from the rainy day fund and leftovers from the snow removal budget, with the hope that the state will be able to contribute more funds, too. McIntosh, who chairs the the House Appropriations Committee, offered a revised version of Gov. Hogan's budget that provides an additional $8 million for Baltimore City Public Schools, so it's not really clear how they'll reach the magic number of $130 million. But hey, it's something. There's also a bill in place that would change the way funding is calculated—something parents and activists have long lobbied for. McIntosh says that will provide an additional $24 million. Even with this bit of good news, it seems there needs to be more number crunching. And at press time, the area was bracing for a huge snowstorm that will likely drain some of that removal money.
The abrupt reassignment of 46 "plain-clothes" police officers to uniform patrol spells the end (at least for a while) of the so-called "jump-out boys" or "knockers" (or "Flex Squads" or "Violent Crimes Impact Division") of Baltimore street lore. Known for making many, many drug arrests, and for abusing everyday Baltimoreans, and for entering cars, houses and other private places without a warrant, and for strip-searching suspects in public, the Knockers have become something of a Baltimore icon, like steamed crabs and plastic flamingos and rats—except unconstitutional. Commissioner Kevin Davis told the Sun that he didn't like the officers' T-shirts, jeans, and backward ball caps: "I don't think it represents our profession the way it should," he said, "and I'm doing away with it." The officers will accomplish the same task while in uniform, Davis says.