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In the Media: Rawlings-Blake in D.C.; FBI Director Calls for Better Data on Police Shootings

USCM President Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake speaks at Press Club DC on Baltimore and our Mayors 2016 agenda.
U.S. Mayors
USCM President Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake speaks at Press Club DC on Baltimore and our Mayors 2016 agenda.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From The Baltimore Sun: Rawlings-Blake Touts Plan for Cities, Preparations for Police Trials

"Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake came to the nation's capital Wednesday to make a pitch for what big-city leaders want to see from the federal government — and the next president.

"But when her appearance at the National Press Club was opened for questions, she wound up spending much of her time addressing the unrest that shook Baltimore in April, and how she handled it.

"Rawlings-Blake, who was in Washington in her capacity as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the city was not as prepared as it should have been for the riots that erupted on the day Freddie Gray was buried. She said her administration is now taking additional steps to ready itself ahead of the trials of the six police officers charged in his arrest and death.

"'I don't think anyone would have expected the unrest to unfold in the way that it did,' Rawlings-Blake said. 'What it did give us was an opportunity to strengthen our response.'

"Rawlings-Blake, who announced last month that she would not seek re-election next year, will remain the president of the mayors' conference until June. She hosted a bipartisan delegation of mayors in Baltimore over the weekend working on a "call to action" the group hopes will influence the presidential race.

"But as she tries to carry that message forward, some predict she will face a challenge through the rest of her tenure: how to focus the conversation on the issues she wants to talk about — solutions to the urban ills that Gray's death laid bare — when much of her audience wants to hear about the unrest itself."

Full Article

From The Washington Post: FBI Director Calls Lack of Data on Police Shootings ‘Ridiculous,’ ‘Embarrassing’

"The lack of accurate information about police-involved shootings is roiling the nation’s law enforcement community, leaving officials unable to say whether high-profile killings are isolated events or part of an alarming trend, FBI Director James B. Comey said Wednesday.

"Speaking to a private gathering of more than 100 politicians and top law enforcement officials, Comey expressed frustration that the federal government has no better data on police shootings than databases assembled this year by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper.

"'It is unacceptable that The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper from the U.K. are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between police and civilians. That is not good for anybody,' he said.

"Mayors, police chiefs and state attorneys general said the lack of data is contributing to a dangerous trend in which police officers spurn aggressive tactics for fear of becoming the next officer to be caught on camera in a compromising situation.

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) implored U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to stand up publicly for police officers and show them that the nation’s top cop has their back.

“'There’s no doubt Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Cleveland, in my view, have put the genie out of the bottle,” Emanuel said, reciting a list of cities where police-involved fatalities have provoked civic unrest."

Full Article

From The AFRO American: Despite Mediation Efforts, Baltimore Charter School Lawsuit Moves Forward

"Several public charter schools filed lawsuits against Baltimore City Public Schools last month, alleging a lack of transparency and equity in the way the system disburses funds. And, though school officials’ withdrawal of a controversial funding proposal and the appointment of former mayor Kurt L. Schmoke as a mediator last week are hopeful signs that a funding agreement can be reached, those legal complaints will move forward, charter officials said. 

“'It is great that the mayor brought Kurt Schmoke in to help mediate these discussions. I do feel hopeful. But we also need to maintain a strong stance because we’re up against a big bureaucracy and that’s a difficult position to be in,' said Bobbi Macdonald, executive director, City Neighbors Foundation, which operates three public charter schools. 

“'The lawsuit continues in order to get the school system to provide a level of transparency for parents to know that funds are going to the classroom and not staying at North Avenue [where BCPS’ headquarters are located],” said Steve Kearney, owner of KO Public Affairs and spokesman for the charter schools suing BCPS."

"On Sept. 10, nine schools—Afya Public Charter School, Brehms Lane Elementary (which was recently approved as an Afya Baltimore school), City Neighbors Charter School, City Neighbors Hamilton, City Neighbors High School, The Green School of Baltimore, Patterson Park Public Charter School, Southwest Baltimore Charter School, and Tunbridge Public Charter School—filed suits against BCPS. Since then, two more schools, KIPP Harmony Academy and KIPP Ujima Village Academy, have joined. In all, the plaintiffs represent a combined student body of 5,177 children."

Full Article