In the Media: Hogan Announces Plan for Baltimore Vacants; City School Board Votes to Close Schools
A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.
From the Washington Post: Md. Gov. Unveils Plan to Raze Blocks of Vacant Baltimore Buildings
"Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday unveiled plans to knock down thousands of vacant buildings in Baltimore, replace them with parks and green space and offer incentives to developers who want to bring new projects there.
"Hogan (R) announced the joint effort by the state and city governments on a blighted block in Sandtown-Winchester, the childhood home of Freddie Gray, whose death after suffering a severe spinal injury in police custody sparked riots this past spring and became part of a national debate about police treatment of young black men.
“'Fixing what’s broken in Baltimore requires that we address the sea of abandoned, dilapidated buildings that are infecting entire neighborhoods,' said Hogan, who was joined by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) and other top officials. 'They aren’t just unsightly, they are also unsafe, unhealthy and a hotbed for crime.'
"But those who live in the neighborhood voiced skepticism about the promise of recreational spaces and future development projects. They welcomed the razing of long-abandoned buildings but said there is an urgent need for affordable homes to replace them.
"Hogan’s plan calls for $75 million over the next four years to demolish vacant buildings and replace them with green space and parks, with the city pitching in an additional $19 million. The state will also make available $600 million in financing to encourage private developers to launch projects in the targeted Baltimore neighborhoods."
From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore City School Board Votes to Close Four Schools
"The city school board voted Tuesday to close four schools, including a West Baltimore elementary that community leaders fought to save and a Southeast Baltimore high school that Dundalk lawmakers pushed to close.
"Westside Elementary School, located in the Penn-North neighborhood, which experienced the brunt of April's rioting, is among those the board voted to close at the end of the academic year. The others are Maritime Industries Academy High School, Baltimore Community High School and the Maryland Academy of Technology & Health Sciences.
"Baltimore city schools CEO Gregory Thornton recommended the closings in November as part of an annual review of schools that have poor performance or climate, low enrollment or underutilized buildings.
"Thornton recommended a fifth school, Roots and Branches charter, for closure, but officials deferred the vote for further study.
"Since Thornton announced his recommendations, some residents and educators have argued that schools have become community hubs and havens for students in a year of upheaval and violence in the city."
From the Baltimore Sun: Edwards’ Complaints About ‘Thugs,’ ‘Occupiers,’ Part of a Growing Controversy
"'Occupiers' vs. 'armed lawbreakers.' 'Protesters' vs. 'thugs.' 'Uprising' vs. 'riot.' 'Workplace violence' vs. 'terrorist act.'
From the death of Freddie Gray last year in Baltimore to the takeover of a federal building this month in Oregon, the language used in media to describe news events often becomes as controversial as the facts of what happened.
"On Monday, U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Donna Edwards criticized mainstream news media for what she characterized as a willingness to label rioters in Baltimore after Gray's death as 'thugs,' while describing the gunmen in Oregon as 'occupiers.'
"'Since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, activists protesting the deaths of an unarmed 18-year-old on a city street or the tragic death of a 25-year-old in the back of a police van have been referred to variously as "thugs," "criminals," and "drug users," Edwards said in a statement.
"'But in Oregon, a group of armed men illegally occupying a federal building have been referred to as an "armed militia," or simply "occupiers," as though that behavior is acceptable in a nation of laws,' the Prince George's County Democrat said.
"Putting this and other examples under the microscope, analysts say, can reveal the deeper beliefs, values and biases not just of some parts of the news media, but the larger society as well — particularly when it comes to race."