City to begin issuing $125 'Don't Block the Box' fines starting Monday

Drivers who block downtown Baltimore intersections with their cars on Monday will risk receiving the first $125 fines for what’s commonly known as “blocking the box.” Under a new city law, police and traffic enforcement officers have the authority to begin issuing tickets Monday for the violation, which exacerbates traffic jams, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Police and traffic enforcement officers are beginning to give warnings to drivers who block intersections in downtown Baltimore this week — and will begin issuing $125 fines for “blocking the box” beginning Oct. 15, the Department of Transportation said. (Balt. Sun)

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Howard, Baltimore counties propose expanding mental health units

Baltimore and Howard counties are proposing to expand their mental health services provided by police. Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler announced plans Friday to expand the county’s mobile crisis teams to round-the-clock availability. The teams, which are staffed by a police officer and mental health professional from the Affiliated Sante Group, currently operate only from 9:30 a.m. until 1 a.m. Meanwhile, the Howard County Police Department announced it is expanding its mental health unit from two employees to four. (Balt. Sun)

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Slutzky bids farewell to community, colleagues after 16 years on Harford County council

During his 16 years on the Harford County Council, Richard Slutzky says he left each meeting with a smile on his face, despite often having to make difficult decisions and experiencing at times intense outrage from people affected by those decisions. “There have been outraged demonstrations, inflammatory emails, derogatory phone calls and a few threats,” Slutzky said Tuesday evening as he delivered a 10-minute farewell address to those gathered in the council chambers in Bel Air. Council meetings are also broadcast live online and later on television via the Harford Cable Network. (Aegis)

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County executive candidates discuss opioid crisis, working with council

All three candidates running for county executive agree that the opioid crisis and a productive County Council are important issues in Frederick County, while pointing out different ways to solve them. Incumbent Jan Gardner (D), state Delegate Kathy Afzali (R) and longtime business and nonprofit leader Earl Robbins (unaffiliated) are on the ballot for that position on Nov. 6. They came in this week for a special Frederick Uncut podcast featuring all three candidates. (News-Post)

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October 12 // Maryland extends drug coverage after judge rules state retirees don't have to switch plans

After a federal judge ruled that Maryland can't force state retirees to switch to a federal prescription drug plan during this enrollment period, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state would extend its coverage through December 2019. Hogan’s office and lawmakers previously said they would work out a long-term solution during the General Assembly session in January. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore's Downtown Partnership to place unarmed guards at intersections to monitor 'squeegee kids'

Acting out of concern for motorists traveling through Baltimore, the Downtown Partnership will begin placing unarmed security guards at busy intersections as early as next week to calm interactions between “squeegee kids” and drivers. Kirby Fowler, the organization’s president, said workers and residents in the city’s business and cultural district are reporting an increase in bad experiences with the squeegee kids, typically boys and teens who for generations have looked to wash windshields at Baltimore intersections for tips. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore judge rejects Exelon lawsuit over Conowingo Dam cleanup, but other appeals still pending

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has rejected a lawsuit filed by Conowingo Dam owner Exelon Corp. against the state of Maryland, saying the company was premature in suing environmental regulators over demands that it do more to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna River. The company can’t go to court to fight permit requirements imposed by the state until it has exhausted its options under Maryland’s administrative appeals statute, Judge Pamela J. White ruled. (Balt. Sun)

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New report calls on Howard to pause plans to raze historic Ellicott City buildings

A nonprofit that opposes Howard County’s five-year flood mitigation plan has released a third-party engineering report that implores the county to consider alternatives to razing buildings in flood-prone Ellicott City. County Executive Allan Kittleman this week signed legislation to partially fund a $50 million project to remove 13 buildings from the historic downtown to help protect the area from damage caused by major floods. (Ho. Co. Times)

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