With the mercury hitting 97 degrees on the final day of May, launching a summer of heat waves, June brought some high-profile court news.
Police officer Gahiji Tshamba was convicted of voluntary manslaughter of Marine vet Tyrone Brown outside a downtown club the previous summer, and later was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Bob Ehrlich's chief of staff, Paul Schurick, and consultant Julius Henson were indicted for the infamous "relax" robocall that prosecutors said was designed to suppress the black vote in an unsuccessful attempt to help the Republican reclaim the governor's mansion. Schurick would be found guilty in December, with Henson's trial to follow next year.
Also in June, former NSA employee Thomas Drake, accused of leaking information to a Sun reporter, accepted a plea deal that cleared him of espionage charges. And ExxonMobil was slapped with more than $1.5 billion in damages for a 2006 underground gas leak that fouled the water supply of residents of Jacksonville in northern Baltimore.
The Fourth of July brought the usual fireworks to the harbor, but also the stabbing death of one man and a stray bullet hitting a four-year-old boy. The marred festivities prompted city officials to fence off the harbor for the New Year's Eve fireworks on Saturday.
Also in July, sharp-eyed workers at the Maryland Historical Society helped nab Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff as they allegedly tried to spirit away documents that included one signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Their arrests led to the discovery of a larger scheme, prosecutors say, in which they trolled archives and libraries up and down the East Coast to pilfer priceless documents.
City Councilwoman Helen Holton saw her bribery and perjury charges, stemming from the $12,500 she accepted from developers John Paterakis and Ronald Lipscomb in 2007, dismissed by the Court of Appeals. And Dr. Mark Midei lost his medical license after accusations that he unnecessarily implanting stents in cardiology patients.
In August, a Baltimore man, John Wagner, was found guilty of the July 2010 murder of Hopkins cancer researcher Stephen Pitcairn. It was a murder that had shocked, even as statistics released in August showed crime had dropped to record lows last year.
This was also the month that congressional redistricting heated up, a process that, among other things, would lead to redrawn borders adding liberal enclaves to a previously GOP-safe Western Maryland district and turning the 3rd District into a water- and county-jumping crazy quilt.
We weathered a climatologically crazed August, first with a rare-in-these-parts earthquake on Aug. 23, followed quickly by Irene knocking the power out for millions up and down the East Coast.
September brought a fashion story to the football field when the Terps debuted uniforms that looked like a Maryland flag had exploded in their locker room. The Sun made its own news, announcing digital subscriptions.
And, a record low of 22 percent of Baltimore voters turned out for a primary election that led to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake ultimately winning a term on her own after filling in for her deposed predecessor Sheila Dixon. Newcomer Nick Mosby upset incumbent City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, and, despite a strong showing for an outsider, Shannon Sneed failed in a November write-in campaign to unseat Councilman Warren Branch.
The real news of September, though, came on Labor Day weekend, when Baltimore hosted what, by the happy crowds and pretty televised images of the city, should have been a smashingly successful inaugural Grand Prix race. But it quickly became apparent that the race promoters, mired in mismanagement and millions of dollars in debt, were in deep trouble that threatened future races.
Hopkins professor Adam Riess would launch October by sharing in the Nobel Prize for physics. Baltimore County schools superintendant Joe Hairston announced he wouldn't seek another contract. The plan to privatize some of the city's rec centers drew lackluster interest. And two patients were killed at the state's maximum security mental facility, Clifford T. Perkins Hospital Center, leading to a new CEO being named to head the troubled institution.
And, midway through the month, longtime WBAL talk show host Ron Smith announced he had late stage pancreatic cancer, which would take his life in December.
October also brought Occupy Baltimore took over McKeldin Square in the Inner Harbor, part of a national effort to protest corporate malfeasance and income disparities. Occupiers would hold down their tent city fort until mid-December, when the city ousted them in a largely peaceful pre-dawn raid.
In November, State Sen. Ulysses Currie was found not guilty of charges that he was bribed by Shoppers Food Warehouse to do its bidding in Annapolis. The ICC opened. And our Harbaugh, John, beat San Francisco's Harbaugh, Jim, on Thanksgiving Day family affair at Ravens stadium.
The year's final month would begin with the Ravens dumping McDaniels College in Westminster as its training camp. The proposed University of Maryland merger of its College Park and Baltimore campuses proved to be a no-go.
And despite the postal service planning cutbacks next year, at least some of the Christmas cards it ferried across the country this year carried a bit of Baltimore with them: A stamp featuring the Madonna of the Candelabra painting from the collection of the Walters Art Museum.
2011: A re-wind
A legend passed, a square was occupied and, yes, the earth moved
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