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In the Media: Mayoral Candidates Seek Shift From Tax Breaks; Sports Starts Speak Against Violence

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Former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Mayoral Candidates Seek Shift From Tax Breaks to Improving Opportunity

"Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank delivered a rich target last week to Baltimore mayoral candidates eager to show voters their willingness to work to correct the city's economic inequities.

“The billionaire Plank's private development firm asked the city for an eye-popping $535 million advance on future property taxes to help pay for roads, parks and utilities in Port Covington, where it plans a massive mixed-use development anchored by a new headquarters campus for his athletic apparel company.

“The request comes as mayoral candidates are telling voters in advance of the all-important April 26 Democratic primary how they will make business work for them by supporting programs for ex-offenders, workforce training and stronger local hiring laws, while taking a sharper look at using tax breaks and public financing to incentivize real estate projects.

“‘The priority for economic development in the communities has taken a major step forward in terms of being prioritized,’ said Bishop Douglas I. Miles, former co-chair of BUILD, an activist coalition of church groups. ‘For the first time in recent memory those running for mayor are addressing some of the real economic needs of the city.’

“The shift is a product of April's unrest, which explosively punctuated long-simmering debates about widening economic gulfs between poor and affluent neighborhoods and black and white residents in Baltimore.”

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From the AFRO American: Sports Stars to Address Violence in Baltimore

“With violence becoming synonymous with Baltimore, local leaders are trying different ways to end the bloodshed. One group thinks that basketball may be the solution.

“Shooting for Peace is a new organization that is partnering with the National Basketball Association (NBA), foundations, Baltimore’s churches, community organizations, government officials, schools, businesses, and private individuals.

“The group is planning a series of events during the week of April 11 where professional athletes will speak at schools, churches, youth athletic programs and community organizations about ways to prevent violence. The week will end on April 16 with a celebrity basketball game at Coppin State University between former NBA stars and well-known Baltimore City basketball players.

“‘I didn’t grow up in the hood; I grew up in a neighborhood,’ event organizer, Ray Sydnor, said in an interview with the AFRO. Sydnor, a Baltimore native, attended Northwestern High School and went on to play football and basketball at the University of Wisconsin. Sydnor also played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Sydnor said because the media doesn’t portray Baltimore in the proper light, he wants to show that ‘a lot of people do good stuff’ in Baltimore.

“‘I’m obligated to give back,’ Sydnor said. ‘We care about Baltimore.’

“Former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis is scheduled to speak at halftime during the game, along with other notable athletes. Lewis has experienced his own share of legal troubles. In 2000 two people were stabbed to death after a Super Bowl party in “Atlanta that Lewis and several of his friends were attending. Initially charged with the murder, Lewis pled guilty to obstructing justice and was given probation. Lewis went on to win the Super Bowl MVP award the following year with the Ravens. Today Lewis is involved in a variety of philanthropic and spiritual organizations.”

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From the Baltimore Sun: Maryland firms add 1,900 jobs in January

“Maryland employers added 1,900 jobs in January, pushing the state unemployment rate down to 4.9 percent, the Labor Department said Monday.

“The largest monthly gains were in the professional and business services sector, which added 2,800 positions, led by firms focused on areas such as tax preparation, accounting, payroll and computer systems designs, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Government added 2,300 jobs, while manufacturing firms added 900.

“Employers in education and health services cut 4,900 positions. Firms in the trade, transportation and utilities sector also cut 1,300 jobs.

“Since January 2015, Maryland employers have added 44,800 positions, but the state's employment gains in 2015 were weaker than previously reported, according to Monday's release, which updated historic figures. In December, the revisions showed an increase of 3,300, instead of 10,500.

“Maryland was one of 30 states to experience an increase in employment in January, according to the monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maryland's 4.9 percent unemployment rate was in line with the national average and down one tenth of a percentage point from December.”

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