Baltimore City Power Rankings: Up for Amy Sherald, down for Pugh, BPD, more

↑ City Springs Elementary/Middle and Cardinal Shehan School students

At City Springs Elementary/Middle, students in Wyatt Oroke's humanities class helped raise thousands of dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief. The story got the attention of "The Ellen Show," which featured a segment on Oroke and his students. In the segments, the teacher told a national TV audience that the kids who were so generous often have very little due to "political decisions made, be it segregated housing or redlining certain neighborhoods." Host Ellen DeGeneres brought a tearful Oroke out for an interview and it all ended with the school receiving a check for $25,000. Over at Cardinal Shehan, a video of the student choir performing the motivational Andra Day song 'Rise Up' reached millions. Even those who are deeply cynical about the future of Baltimore have to look at what these kids are doing and feel inspired.

↑ Amy Sherald

It kinda seems like Amy Sherald is going places. Last year, the Baltimore-based painter became the first woman and the first African-American artist to win the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Competition. She has work in both the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. And now she's been selected to paint the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama to hang in the National Portrait Gallery. Best known for painting African-American figures in grayscale against richly colored backgrounds (and thus challenging the limitation of racial identity to skin color), Sherald is clearly up to the task, and totally deserving of the honor.

↑ Greg Novik

Baltimore has lost another icon: Greg Novik, founder of Greg's Bagels, died last Wednesday. Locals will remember his friendly energy, his eccentricities, and the familial atmosphere of his legendary Belvedere Square bagel shop. When Novik stepped away from the shop in the summer of 2016 after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, 22-year-old Tommy Hearn took the reins and spent much time with Novik to learn how to run this business—and more importantly, how to make his signature, hand-rolled bagels. "I think we demonstrated durability, stick-to-it-iveness, work ethic," Novik told Baltimore Magazine earlier this year about his nearly 30 years in the bagel business. "We showed you can be happy much of the time working. It was fun. And it made people happy. How many jobs can you say that for?"

↓ BPD

Last week, Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, two of the six charged in the death of Freddie Gray, received light discipline for their involvement in Gray's death and will keep their jobs. The city dangled a consent decree agreement in front of the police union that included raises and no civilians on the review board—more evidence that the city has learned nothing since the uprising. Meanwhile, Momodu Gondo, one of the Gun Task Force Members, pleaded guilty to lying about overtime, robbing citizens, and selling guns and drugs. If there's ever been evidence of the department's corruption, that this isn't just a few "bad apples," it is this massive police scandal. Also, the police shot and killed a guy this past Sunday night. It is time to seriously consider disbanding the whole department and starting over Camden, New Jersey-style.

↓ Pugh

Mayor Pugh revealed a "plan" to help the homeless by saying it would cost $350 million and then basically asking the private sector to handle it. This, mind you, is one of Pugh's moves: She says she's addressing an issue, then announces how much it costs, all but ending the conversation and then, she moves on. It is stellar politricks: She looks like she cares, like she's getting something done, but also comes off as austere and reasonable so she doesn't have to do the work. The Baltimore Brew since revealed that even the 350 million number was a joke—it came from a "Christian-oriented group, the Helping Up Mission." Meanwhile, Pugh remains vague about how the city has assisted the members of Tent City and oh yeah, offered the BPD raises—because there's always city money for that.

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