Somerset County, state at odds over U.S. disaster aid

Somerset County officials are calling on Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration to revise an application for $8.6 million in federal aid, saying it will render many families hurt by the remnants of Hurricane Sandy ineligible for money to rebuild. The county, hit hard by flooding from the superstorm in October, would be forced to spend the federal disaster relief only on lower-income families — defined at less than $48,000 for a household of two. That would exclude nearly half the county's homeowners, local officials said. (Balt. Sun)

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Violinist clears court hurdle, may play on Boardwalk

A ruling from a federal judge on a pending lawsuit means the likes of violin players, trumpet virtuosos and one-man-bands may return to Ocean City's Boardwalk without fear of being cited for a noise violation as the suit continues. U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander said while the government may hold an interest in protecting citizens from unwelcome noise, this isn't one of those cases. (Daily Times)

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Board of Public Works approves deal in profiling suit

The state Board of Public Works agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a lawsuit in which an African-American motorist alleged that two state troopers illegally searched him and his car in a case of racial profiling.The board ratified the deal reached by the attorney general's office after being told the cost of contesting the case could exceed the amount of the settlement. (Balt. Sun)

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City jail grievance system broken, inmates, advocates say

Civil liberties advocates say a number of cases highlight the inadequacy of the inmate grievance process — an issue that has historically been ignored and is being de-emphasized as officials scramble to solve problems at the jail. Grievances should be a valuable tool for uncovering corruption, attorneys and corrections experts say. Indeed, grievances filed at the jail outlined problems that were later noted in the federal indictments — leading some to wonder whether officials had missed an early opportunity to address alleged corruption. (Balt. Sun)

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Fears of violence strain a blood-stained block in Baltimore

Fear is as fresh as the stubborn blood stains on the street in the 900 block of Bennett Place. Three men have been killed this year on this short stretch of three-story row homes, two within seven days of each other last month. Parents lock their children inside and few residents will talk about the violence, worried they could be next if they say the wrong thing. (Balt. Sun)

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Chesapeake Bay gets 'C' health grade

The Chesapeake Bay's health improved last year, University of Maryland scientists reported, and the leader of the troubled estuary's annual checkup said he sees signs the cleanup effort is making progress. The bay's overall health earned a 'C' grade for 2012, up from a D-plus the year before, according to the analysis by UM's Center for Environmental Science. (Balt. Sun)

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Montgomery special education program under investigation

The idea was to teach students at Rock Terrace School about money management in a real-life setting. Special education students would take a bus about two miles to a now-defunct teachers’ credit union during the school day. They withdrew cash from personal accounts that school employees helped them open. And when they finished, students handed envelopes full of money to adults. But it is unclear where exactly the money went after it left the bank. (Wash. Post)

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HUD, city reach $150,000 settlement for public housing residents with disabilities

Baltimore's housing agency must pay a public housing resident $150,000 because the city failed to accommodate the woman's request to be moved, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced. It also must pay the resident's attorneys $10,000, increase exposure of its reasonable accommodation policies and procedures, train staff about those policies and "submit regular reports to HUD on its efforts to promptly respond to reasonable accommodation requests," HUD said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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