↑ The Environment
Last week, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that will ban hydraulic fracking, and Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged his support. New York and Vermont are the only other states to have banned it. While some energy companies have tried to sell natural gas as a cheaper, cleaner alternative to oil, environmentalists warn that the process of extracting it—which involves injecting water and chemicals deep into the ground to break up shale and release the gas—uses tremendous amounts of water and point to instances where fracking has contaminated water supplies. The ban is a sensible way to protect Maryland's natural resources in the western part of the state, where drillers would likely have operated. We're glad our water sources won't be destroyed.
Another weekend, another exhausting list of things to go and do and see (in a good way). In addition to a number of art openings, there was Open Space's eighth annual artist-run Publications and Multiples Fair. A few highlights we bought/witnessed: a zine about pro wrestling from a student at Independence School Local 1; Dylan Ubaldo's "Bell Times" zine about the Bell Foundry; too many poetry zines to count; a workshop on female ejaculation; a poetry reading on "erotic decadence and decay"; and more. Light City also kicked off this weekend, bringing folks out to both the Inner Harbor and the festival's eight satellite spots in other neighborhoods around the city, and it all continues this week, through Saturday.
↓ Oaktree Capital
According to a report by Unite-Here, the service workers' union, Oaktree Capital, an L.A.-based private equity fund, bought more than 600 delinquent mortgages in the Baltimore area, including 297 in the city. Under a federal program designed to help people stay in their homes and revitalize neighborhoods, Oaktree paid less than half the face value of the mortgages, on the expectation that it would revitalize at least half of the houses. So far it's not happening, with more than 60 percent of the properties in foreclosure or in the process of foreclosure and some 40 percent vacant, according to the report. City Councilmen Kristerfer Burnett and John Bullock held a hearing to pressure Oaktree, which they call a "vulture fund," to do the right thing by giving some of the home owners a decent break.
Last week, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard (Beauregard! Like, come on!) Sessions III announced that so-called sanctuary cities—those who have vowed not to turn over undocumented immigrants for deportation—would not be able to access Justice Department grants for state and local law enforcement. The move is a bullying tactic, par for the course for this presidential administration. Concurrent with this, the Department of Homeland Security released a report identifying the places that are not honoring federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants in custody after their release from jail, among them: Montgomery, Prince George's, and Baltimore counties. Only problem: Those counties say they never even received such a request. The Trump shit show continues.
↓ Del. Talmadge Branch
Last week we highlighted a bad bill passed by the Maryland House of Delegates that screws over local breweries by reducing taproom hours and contract brewing. The debate continues on as brewers, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Kevin Atticks of the the Brewers Association of Maryland, and others testified before members of the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee to convince them to make changes. Thanks to The Sun, we now have more insight into how this wrong-headed legislation passed in the first place, courtesy of a deeply cynical quote from Baltimore Democrat Del. Talmadge Branch. "We passed a bill that gave some and took some from everyone. I think everybody is a little unhappy, and that's usually a sign of a pretty good bill," he said. "No one got everything they wanted." The M.O. of good governing in Annapolis is apparently, "Hey, everyone got fucked over a little bit." Try again, you guys.