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Maryland

Harbor Point Financing Moves Forward, Suspicious Substance At Cummings’ Office, and “Empty Desks”

The Baltimore City Council’s taxation committee has approved $107-million in tax increment financing for the Harbor Point development; the legislation now moves to the full City Council, which will give the bill a second reading on Monday of next week. More on Harbor Point, plus: an investigation into fake explosives at Congressman Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore office, and an investigation into the stabbing of a corrections officer at a state prison in Western Maryland. Also, a look at the leave payout given to former Anne Arundel schools superintendent Kevin Maxwell, the latest installment of our series on chronic absenteeism in Baltimore schools, and more.

Harbor Point: The Baltimore City Council’s taxation committee has given its okay to a controversial $107-million tax financing arrangement for the Harbor Point development. Three of the committee’s five members voted in favor of the proposal, and nobody voted against; Councilman Bill Henry abstained, and the Committee’s Chair, Councilman Carl Stokes, walked out of the room as the vote was being called. The measure now moves to the full City Council, where it’s set for a second reading on Monday of next week. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns brought us a report on the controversy surrounding yesterday’s vote. In his weekly essay, WYPR Senior News Analyst looked at what the Harbor Point project means for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is supporting it. There’s more on Harbor Point here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Baltimore Business Journal. A programming note: we’ll have more during the noon hour of Midday with Dan Rodricks.

Fake Explosives At Congressman Cummings’ Office: An investigation is underway after a substance made to appear as explosives was found outside the Baltimore office of Congressman Elijah Cummings. The discovery was made yesterday morning; officials say a sticky, putty-like substance was attached to the office’s door in blobs with wires sticking out of them. It seems to have been designed to look like plastic explosives. But the substance turned out to be harmless; Representative Cummings tells the Baltimore Sun he is thankful that all the employees at the office are safe. 

Empty Desks: With more than 17-thousand Baltimore students missing more than 20 days of class last year, it’s no surprise that education officials are looking for ways to make schools more inviting. Last week, school police and administrators attended workshops designed to help them do just that. In this installment of our series “Empty Desks, the Effects of Chronic Absenteeism,” WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn stops by the school climate training session and talks to officials about their ideas to make schools more appealing for students.

Maxwell’s Leave Payout: Former Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell has been paid more than $90-thousand dollars for unused vacation time and sick leave. The president of the County school board tells the Capital Gazette that the payout was required by the terms of Maxwell’s contract; the school system won’t say how many days of leave the payout represents. Last month, former Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso was paid nearly $150-thousand for unused vacation time and sick leave; policy analysts say that school administrators are more frequently getting big leave payouts when they exit school systems – in part, because the public pays more attention to salaries and benefits.

Inquiry Into Corrections Officer Stabbing: Some state lawmakers are joining the call for answers after a corrections officer was stabbed at a state prison after a threat had been made against him. The stabbing came well after the threat was received by a tour captain at a Western Maryland prison, but the guard was never informed of the threat. The Baltimore Sun reports that the chairs of the State Senate public safety committee and the House criminal justice subcommittee want to know who broke policy and failed to warn the officer of the threat.

Nursing Protests At BWI: Nursing mothers with their babies are protesting against American Airlines at BWI Marshall Airport and the protest is getting widespread attention. As WJZ reports, this comes after a woman nursing her son on an American Airlines flight was reportedly made to feel ashamed and was asked to cover up. In a statement, American Airlines apologized, saying a "well-intentioned" flight attendant was trying to "make everyone on board comfortable." The airline says nursing is permitted any time on a flight. 

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles swept their two game series with the San Diego Padres, after beating them 10 to 3 yesterday. The O’s have the day off; they’ll play the San Francisco Giants tomorrow.

Baltimore Football: the Ravens take to the field tonight for their first preseason game; they’ll play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa.