Baltimore City Power Rankings: DOJ, BPD, Pugh, R. House, FOP, more

↑ DOJ, BPD, Pugh

Okay, so the Justice Department and the city blew the Nov. 1 deadline for the consent decree, but to their credit they still managed—by the skin of their teeth—to crank out this agreement before Donald Trump ascends his throne. (Oh, wait, sorry, is "throne" the wrong term for a democracy? Trump's proclamations have us all confused.) The consent decree mandates sweeping reforms in the way Baltimore's police operate, including reworking the process for investigating sexual assault claims thoroughly and without bias; revamping policy and training to emphasize "de-escalation techniques"; ensuring that all transport vans are equipped with cameras and proper safety belts—and that police use them; an overhaul of the procedures for excessive force investigations; and a slew of requirements for better data collection. And the 227-page consent decree has real teeth with, for example, a 90-day deadline for establishing a Community Oversight Task Force. Here's hoping the court-appointed independent monitor enforces those reforms—and deadlines.


↑ BGE workers

On Jan. 12, workers at BGE, the region's largest supplier of electricity and gas, voted to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. Organized labor has experienced decades of declining membership, but unions can still be a powerful tool to bargain for better working conditions and wages. According to The Sun, workers at BGE have tried to organize four previous times over the past 21 years, all failures. Kudos to the workers for getting the job done this time around. According to a recent Economic Policy Institute study shared by USA Today, we all benefit when unions are stronger. If union membership last year was at 1979 levels, the weekly earnings of even a nonunion private-sector worker would be up about 2 to 5 percent.

↑ R. House

As we said in our review of the food hall, it seems like everyone is talking about R. House. That was further reinforced when our critique of the space and its mission statement about community building and uber-pricey food—a lot of which we enjoyed, for the record—led to even more conversation, with dozens of commenters weighing in to either appreciate our criticisms or slam us for being whiny hipsters. Regardless of which side you're on, it's good to have this dialogue about development, gentrification, and, yes, whether a shiny, high-end food court is all that different from the regular ol' one at the mall. What's abundantly clear is people are buzzing about the place, and that can only be good news for R. House itself. Believe it or not, that's fine by us.

↓ Nick's Inner Harbor Seafood and other Cross Street Market vendors

After years of assurances from the city that developer Caves Valley Partners' pending rehab of the Federal Hill landmark would treat them gently, vendors learned otherwise. Nick's—one of the few vendors with a long-term lease—saw its lease terminated over what it says are minor health code infractions. The other vendors, long on month-to-month leases, learned they would receive little or no help in weathering the shutdown or relocation necessitated by the construction, which would happen all at once instead of in stages as previously planned. The Market is expected to close in May, and not reopen until 2018. No fish at Nick's ever smelled as bad as this.


As the Mayor and Attorney General Loretta Lynch triumphantly announced a consent decree between the Department of Justice and the Baltimore Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan complained that his union had not even been consulted during the negotiations. Then, after Commissioner Kevin Davis emailed the department about a freeze on officer leave, according to the Sun, Ryan announced he is filing an internal grievance, citing Commissioner Davis' "blatant and absurd disregard" for the current Memorandum of Understanding that is supposed to govern labor relations in the department. This is what you do after you've been run over.