Harbor Point, Talking About Race, MD’s GOP Considers Open Primaries, & No Relief From The Heat (Yet)

Jul 18, 2013

A Heat Advisory goes into effect at noon today, with temperatures likely hit the upper 90s this afternoon. It’s another Code Red Heat Alert day in Baltimore, and the state’s Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert. The heat wave will likely continue through Sunday. Plus: supporters and opponents speak out about Baltimore’s controversial Harbor Point development, the Maryland Republican Party considers having open primaries, and more on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in our state.

Heat Wave Continues: Another hot day is in store for Central Maryland, with highs in the upper 90s. The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for today. In Baltimore, folks without conditioning can go to the city’s cooling centers; it’s another Code Red Heat Alert day, and those centers will open at 9am. You can find out where they are by calling 311. The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for today, with air pollution concentrations considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The heat isn’t likely to break ‘till Sunday.

Harbor Point: Baltimore City Hall was filled last night with both supporters and opponents of a bill that would provide $107-million in “Tax Increment Financing” for the controversial Harbor Point development project. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns has the story; there’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.

Rawlings-Blake Criticizes Harris Over Zimmerman Acquittal Comments: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is blasting Congressman Andy Harris for his recent comment on the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Earlier this week, Harris said that those upset with the not guilty verdict should "get over it." The Baltimore Sun reports that Mayor Rawlings-Blake called the comment dismissive and callous, and said it shows that the 1st District Republican is out of touch. The mayor challenged Harris to make the same comment to Martin's parents.

Honest Talk About Race Won’t Be Easy: In the wake of the Zimmerman acquittal, US Attorney General Eric Holder said that our nation needs an honest discussion about race. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments, in his weekly essay.

MD GOP Considers Open Primary: Maryland Republicans are considering opening their primary elections to independent voters. GOP officials in favor of the move say they’re frustrated with a string of losses in statewide races. They say inviting unaffiliated voters to help choose their candidates will bring these independents onto the Republican side. But the Baltimore Sun notes that other Republicans are opposed; saying that opening up the primary would essentially turn over the nomination process to non-republicans… who could vote for weak GOP candidates and therefore make the general election easier for Democrats.

Insuring The Uninsured Under Obamacare: The success of the Affordable Care Act – here in Maryland and elsewhere – in part hinges on a simple calculus: the number of uninsured people who actually sign up for health insurance. WYPR’s Bret Jaspers reports on what the outreach effort will look like.

License Plate Readers: Police departments around the nation – including those in Maryland – are rapidly expanding their use of license plate scanners, but the American Civil Liberties Union says few departments have "meaningful" rules in place to protect drivers' privacy rights. The ACLU tells the Baltimore Sun that, in Maryland, only 47 of one million plates scanned were linked to serious crimes.

“Smooth Operator” Program Gets New Focus: The Maryland State Highway Administration is hoping to put the brakes on aggressive driving around large commercial vehicles. As part of the "Smooth Operator" program, officials are launching a summer campaign aimed at educating motorists about the dangers of tailgating, speeding, and weaving in and out of lanes around big trucks. The Baltimore Sun reports that over the last five years nearly 300 people have died and nearly 13-thousand have been injured on Maryland roads in crashes involving a large commercial truck or cross-country bus.

Calvert Cliffs Reactors Could Be At Risk Of Early Retirement: The two reactors at Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant could be at risk of early retirement, according a new report from the Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. The Baltimore Sun reports that Calvert Cliffs has six of 11 risk factors for early retirement, including past outages, and the age of the reactors. One of them went online in 1975, the second following 2 years later. Calvert Cliffs employs 900 people, and generates enough power for 1-million homes.