Accolades to the blizzard of 2016; it lived up to the hype. And our city paused, in awe, while the storm transformed it. As local writer and editor David Dudley wrote so beautifully of the snow in the New York Times: "[G]loriously if briefly, it hides everything else — the plastic grocery bags and mini-marts and dog poop and salt-grimed Toyotas and sundry disorder of modernity. Watching the quotidian American crudscape transform into a fairy-tale kingdom is a legitimate wonder. Name another disaster that leaves the afflicted region more attractive in its wake."
State Senator and Baltimore mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh heads into the primary season with $664,000 on hand—twice as much as former Mayor Sheila Dixon (who spent twice as much as Pugh on campaigning over the past year). Two other candidates—Elizabeth Embry and David Warnock—reported more campaign loot than Dixon, who is leading in all polls so far. A Jan. 11 poll by Gonzales Research had Dixon with 27 percent and Pugh in second with 18. Could be a race yet.
Long thought to be limited in their spending, the Orioles broke the bank last week and officially re-signed first baseman Chris Davis to a team-record seven-year $161 million deal, returning last year's league leader in home runs to the heart of their lineup for years to come. At the start of the offseason, it was all but a foregone conclusion that Davis would sign elsewhere. His return seemed unlikely as recently as Jan. 14, when the team, reportedly fed up with Davis' heel-dragging, made an offer to power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Two days later, reports surfaced that Davis had agreed to come back to Baltimore. While the Orioles may soon regret the deal, which includes $42 million in deferred money, meaning Davis will be receiving checks until 2037, when he's 51, the signing signals to the fan base that ownership is indeed willing to pony up to put a competitive team on the field.
The Maryland Senate left 40,000 ex-felons in limbo this week when it postponed a decision to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a voting rights bill for ex-offenders. The House of Delegates overrode his veto from the last legislative session, breathing life back into the bill it passed last year. But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says he is waiting until a Senate seat is filled to revisit the issue. "I pay [taxes] into a system that can oppress me and I can't do nothing about it," says Perry Hopkins, an ex-felon who is an activist for Communities United. Currently, half of Maryland's General Assembly agrees, but we will have to wait until Feb. 5 to know the final outcome.
It's budget time in Annapolis, and not surprisingly, the proposal for fiscal year 2017 put forth by Boss Hög slights our city. Funds for Baltimore City Public Schools will be reduced by $24 million, and the paltry level of funding for a proposed $700 million investment in Baltimore caused state Del. Maggie McIntosh, whose district includes parts of the city, to ask The Sun's Erin Cox and Michael Dresser: "Where's the other money? Where's it coming from?" But, as City Paper reported on Jan. 15, the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services found that roughly $75 million was actually new funding—the rest comes from programs that already exist and are funded. And there are questions raised about whether or not all that money will actually be used in the way Hogan says it will.