On Oct. 20, Gov. Larry Hogan, Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, and other officials marked the launch of Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, at Dunbar and Carver high schools. The program, developed by IBM, allows students to take advance-level courses in science, engineering, math, and technology, get paid internships in those fields, and receive one-on-one mentorship with professionals, with the hope of placing graduates into jobs in the ever-expanding tech sector. This past June, The Sun's editorial board hailed the program's "potential not only to fill local employers' need for technically skilled employees but also to grow the work force in a way that reflects Maryland's increasingly diverse population." Grace Suh, who directs education programs for IBM, told The Sun last week that the computing giant sees P-TECH as a way to develop a pipeline of talent. There are already plans in place to expand P-TECH in Maryland, but it's cool Baltimore students got first dibs on these opportunities.
←→ Marilyn Mosby
The Baltimore City State's Attorney proposed some welcome reforms to investigation and discipline of police last week, including civilian representation on oversight boards and a "collaborative investigative team" to look into charges of use of force by police. She also wants to give assistant SAO investigators police powers, though, and would like to strip defendants of their right to elect a bench trial, where a judge decides the case rather than a jury. She cites the federal rules of criminal procedure, which allow a judge to deny a defendant's request for a bench trial (as happened to Dylann Roof in his Charleston, SC mass murder case this summer). Criticism of the federal rule is long standing and, indeed, the Supreme Court has upheld federal prosecutors' discretion to block a bench trial by citing the prosecutor's duty as a "servant of the law," rather than a mere partisan trying to win a case. It's hard to make an argument for Mosby on this point without advocating the prosecutor's finger on the scales of justice.
←→ Ross McNutt
Ross McNutt, owner of and Chief Technical Officer for Persistent Surveillance Solutions (PSS), the company behind the once-secret aerial surveillance program in Baltimore, encouraged the police to be transparent early on, according to newly released emails. The emails, mostly between BPD's Lt. Sam Hood and McNutt, span more than two years and make McNutt look pretty good; he frequently brought up issues of constitutionality and community concerns and the BPD seemingly ignored his emails on this subject. That said, even as McNutt encouraged disclosure, he wrote in one email that he continued to go along with the plan to "conduct the [aerial surveillance] test quickly and quietly."
Last week, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) sued Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, who initially proposed the idea for Light City but eventually sought out BOPA for help funding and organizing. According to the suit, the couple (who run the branding agency What Works Studios) have been using Light City's logos, name, and designs as if they own them, but the contract they signed gave BOPA, who sponsored last spring's festival, ownership of "Light City" as an intellectual property. There is something deliciously ironic about these two groups, so interested in "rebranding" the city and "shining a light" and creating "the connections that spur innovation" fighting so viciously in the courts—particularly since their mission statement promises the festival "will be tied together by our city's fundamental values" and cites value #1, collaboration.
Two weeks after City Paper's cover story on sinkholes, another sinkhole opened up, closing Cathedral Street to traffic. As always, the Department of Public Works is investigating the cause, which is, as always, criminal lack of maintenance. The newest crater is located about 200 feet from a tank trap that appeared in 2011 and closed the street for several months. It's also a block from the seep that we awarded "Best Sinkhole In Training" in our annual Best of Baltimore issue. The new hole's failure is on a 100-year-old sewer main and will once again take months to repair.