↑ Md Attorney General Brian E. Frosh
Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine are filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, saying that Trump is in violation of the Constitution's Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. Those rules were put in place to keep the president's financial interests completely separate from the business of governing the American people. The Attorneys General pointed to Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel, which has hosted foreign officials, and the fact that the president recently obtained valuable trademarks for business ventures in China. Trump has flagrantly avoided distancing himself from his businesses, spending weekends at his various properties and attempting to rebrand his Florida golf club Mar-A-Lago as the "Winter White House." Frosh said. We'll be watching this, as well as all of the other lawsuits the president is fighting off.
In the continuing war on bike lanes, the advocacy group Bikemore scored a victory when a judge granted a temporary restraining order to stop the destruction of a protected lane on Potomac Street in Canton. Mayor Catherine Pugh, caving to NIMBYs, had planned on tearing out the nearly completed project, citing an international fire code regulation that states there must be a 20-foot clearance on streets for fire trucks to get through—a laughable rule when you consider a great number of Baltimore streets. Pugh's spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, dismissed advocacy efforts in favor of the lane, saying, "I don't care how many petitions you sign online. . . . She's going to put the interest of the residents of the city first." A hearing for a preliminary injunction will be scheduled soon, Bikemore says. Cyclists are also waging battles over bike lanes on 33rd Street and Roland Avenue, so this win is significant, even if there are many fights ahead.
↑ City Council
Baltimore's government favors a strong mayor, but the City Council was able to unify for a budget fight with Mayor Catherine Pugh, and they ended up getting just about everything they wanted. For their efforts, the council members were able to direct $3 million to city schools, $2.6 million for after-school programs, and $1.5 million for the violence-intervention group Safe Streets. And they made these gains by threatening to cut as much as $26 million earmarked for projects near and dear to Pugh. As regular readers of Baltimore City Power Rankings are no doubt aware, we've not been terribly impressed with the Pugh administration's bumbling, reactionary start. The council, however, has been a bit more impressive. May they continue to fight the good fight with similar effectiveness.
The city's new bus system, the BaltimoreLink, will be implemented this coming Sunday, and bus riders can expect the buses on their routes to stop less frequently, to require more transfers, or to be eliminated entirely, all in the name of "efficiency," according to the MTA. Add to this a 10-cent fare increase (due to a state law, not the BaltimoreLink itself, says the MTA), color-coordinated lines to memorize rather than numbered ones, and still no reliable bus tracker, and you get quite a few unhappy bus riders. The local bus drivers union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1300, has said drivers haven't been properly prepared either. As the MTA prepares to launch this overhaul, its administrator, Paul Comfort, and his chief of staff, Jim Knighton, left abruptly last week. OK, but at least the MTA's letting us ride for free during those first two weeks?
Gov. Larry Hogan's being weird on Facebook again. A couple of weeks ago, after he posted a link to a LifeZette (noted right-wing online publication) article that quoted him about gerrymandering in Maryland, constituents pressed him on that issue ("Either lead on fair anti-gerrymandering or pick another topic, dude," wrote one person) and others, including his sort of non-stance on Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement—to which he got rather snarky: "Maybe you should pay better attention before spouting off" was part of his response to a question on that topic. Surely no one has forgotten about his staffers changing headlines on Facebook to make him appear more favorable, or blocking commenters with critical/opposing views. His seeming inability to hear negative feedback feels rather Trumpian.