↑ Criminal Justice Reform
In a session that had its share of acrimony, the Maryland General Assembly and Gov. Larry Hogan came together in a moment of bi-partisanship to pass criminal justice reforms that make good sense. One bill ends mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders and allows some nonviolent offenders to be released from prison early. Another bill changes the way officers are hired, trained, and disciplined. Additionally, citizens are now able to make complaints about police officers anonymously. While there's still much work to be done, these measures—and the support for them from both parties—are a good start.
↑ The Baltimore Blast
With a 14-13 overtime victory against the Soles de Sonora, the city's indoor soccer team captured its eighth title in the franchise's history last weekend. The game was an absolute slugfest, with the two teams trading goals back and forth—just when it looked like one would pull away, the other would strike back. The Blast got the edge thanks to a Tony Donatelli goal near the start of overtime. Since the game was played on Sonora's home field and started at about 8:05 p.m. local time, the match didn't end back east until after 2 a.m. Saturday morning. Those who managed to stay up witnessed an instant classic. About 1 a.m. Sunday morning, the team returned to BWI to a hero's welcome, with more than a dozen fans at the gate to greet them. As City Paper reported in a cover story on the Blast back in February, owner Ed Hale is planning a new indoor league for the Blast, with the hopes of better marketing and media coverage, which presumably means championship games that don't go all night. Given the Blast's stellar track record, there's little doubt the wins will keep coming.
↑ Central West Baltimore
At this weekend's Boundary Block Party in Upton's Pennsylvania Avenue Triangle Park, marching bands moved through the party, groups such as Communities United and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle tabled, people partied, bands played (and at a Llamadon tent, a few youngsters freestyle rapped hilariously) and Pastor Elder Harris surveyed the scene from the top of his church's roof where he would stay until 500 Sandtown residents voted. Meanwhile, at nearby Penn-North, the People's Power Assembly marched for Freddie Gray, passing by the site of Gray's arrest, through the block party, and into Station North. The march was inspiring but the block party happening amid the anniversary of Gray's death felt vital and inclusive. Sometimes joy itself is a revolutionary act.
↓ City Government
On April 13, Marques Dent, a candidate for City Council in the 3rd District, shared a letter that he said the City's Board of Elections was sending to ex-offenders. In it, a voter, whose name was redacted, was told "you may be disqualified based on a conviction of a felony"—despite a new law giving ex-offenders the right to vote, even before the completion of parole or probation. The following night, news broke that personal information from city employees had been stolen, some of it used to file fraudulent tax returns. While these two things aren't directly related, both are signs local government needs to get its shit together.
City Councilman Nick Mosby ended his mayoral bid with an endorsement of State Sen. Catherine Pugh last week, probably preserving his political viability should she become mayor. Does he want to replace her in the State Senate? Hmm. Meanwhile, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Nick's wife, handled pressure by the Baltimore Bloc rather gracelessly at two community events, fleeing the group's questions and speeches on two different nights last week. Mosby later announced that she would not reopen the case of Tyrone West, who died in a struggle with police nearly three years ago, without new evidence. That is her right, but she could have said this forthrightly long ago, politically difficult as it is.