Baltimore Mayor Pugh resigns from University of Maryland Medical System board after scrutiny over book sales

Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Monday from the University of Maryland Medical System’s board of directors amid scrutiny over contracting practices involving board members. Pugh’s resignation came after the mayor has encountered heavy criticism for failing to fully disclose the $500,000 business relationship she started in 2011 with the hospital system. “It has been an honor to have been associated with the important work of the UMMS Board, but the fact is, I have many other pressing concerns that require my full attention, energy and efforts,” Pugh said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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Catherine Pugh’s connections to UMMS – long and lucrative

The disclosure that the University of Maryland Medical System paid $500,000 to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh – who sat on its board for 18 years until her resignation this morning (see below) – shouldn’t come as a total surprise. In explaining its payments to the mayor, UMMS said the money helped her print and distribute 100,000 copies of her self-published “Healthy Holly” books to Baltimore schoolchildren. This was not a one-off. Pugh’s financial and political ties with UMMS go much deeper than the book payments. (Brew)

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Baltimore Train Derailment Could Have Been Worse For ‘Blast Zone’ Residents

When A CSX freight train derailed along a Baltimore bridge last week, one of the freight cars really stood out — a tanker car dangling above Fallsway. “We are really lucky this train was not carrying anything hazardous, but we know crude oil has been transported through the city by rail. Transporting crude oil by rail is incredibly hazardous,” said Taylor Smith-Hams with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. (WJZ-TV)

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Seminar prepares real estate professionals to identify signs of human trafficking

Last Tuesday, realtors, home inspectors and mortgage loan officers gathered at Twin Rivers in Crofton to hear a seminar on how they are the first line of defense in the fight to end human trafficking in Maryland. “Human trafficking is the second leading crime in the U.S.,” said Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking and guest speaker. “It is happening everywhere around you.” Maryland is an ideal state for human trafficking as it is centrally located on the I-95 corridor, has international airports, truck stops and multiple vulnerable populations, including foster youth, unaccompanied minors, domestic servants and agricultural workers. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore Co. Council approves public campaign financing measure

Baltimore County voters will decide next year whether to give local candidates the option of public campaign financing, under legislation approved Monday by the County Council. The council voted 5-2 to approve the proposal by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. Supporters say public financing could help reduce the influence of special interests on county politics by encouraging small donors. Now, a charter amendment will be placed on the 2020 ballot for voters to weigh whether to establish the program starting in 2026. (Balt. Sun)

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Preservation Maryland launches city historic preservation fund

Preservation Maryland has launched a new fund aimed at saving and preserving historically significant properties in Baltimore. The fund, started in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust, Baltimore Heritage Inc. and the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), will give out $50,000 in grants to tax-exempt organizations in the city this year. The maximum grant award is $10,000 and organizations have until April 12 to apply. Projects eligible for the funds include, but are not limited to, rehabilitation work, preparation of National Register nominations and educational, research and planning efforts related to preservation undertakings. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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A spate of sleep-related infant deaths in Baltimore sparks review of successful health program

During a six-week stretch in December and January, six infants died in their sleep in homes around Baltimore. It was the worst spate of sleep-related infant fatalities since the city began a campaign in 2009 to teach new mothers how to avoid such a tragedy, and health officials say they are trying to understand what happened and how to bolster the program. (Balt. Sun)

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City Council considers blocking any future sale of Baltimore's 700-mile underground conduit system

The City Council is considering blocking the sale of Baltimore’s 700-mile, century-old underground conduit system, a move supporters say could encourage a public broadband system in the future. The terra cotta system dates to 1898 and contains telephone, electric and fiber-optic cables. The largest user of the system is the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which sought to buy the system for $100 million in 2015. Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young is the lead sponsor on a bill filed Monday that would ask voters to approve a charter amendment in November 2020 to permanently revoke the authority of city officials to sell the vast system. (Balt. Sun)

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