In the Media: Bill for $15 Minimum Wage in Baltimore; Record Numbers of Early Voters
A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.
From the Baltimore Sun: Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke to introduce bill for $15 hourly minimum wage in Baltimore
"City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke plans to introduce legislation Monday to raise the minimum wage in Baltimore to $15 per hour by 2020.
"Clarke has planned a news conference for Monday at 4 p.m. at City Hall to announce details of the bill. She said in a press release that a $15 minimum wage would increase pay for up to 80,000 workers in Baltimore — about a quarter of the city's workforce.
"Clarke's proposal would raise the minimum wage in Baltimore slightly each year until 2020. Employers would face fines of $300 to $1,000 for each violation of the law.
"The minimum wage in Maryland is currently $8.25, one dollar higher than the federal rate. The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill during its 2014 session that will raise the state's base wage to $10.10 by 2018.
"The Montgomery and Prince George's county councils passed bills raising wages in those jurisdictions to $11.50 by 2017.
"Clarke is expected to announce the legislation with former NAACP head Ben Jealous, elected officials, business owners and low-wage workers. Eight of 15 council members, including City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, have signed on as co-sponsors."
From the Baltimore Sun: Record numbers of early voters turn out to polls in Baltimore
"Lines stretched out of Baltimore's early voting stations Thursday as a record number of early voters went to the polls.
"As of 8:30 p.m., about 5,000 people had cast ballots in Baltimore — more than four times the number of the first day of early voting in 2011. State officials reported about 37,000 early voters — three times as many as the last presidential race.
"'It looks like it's going to be our best year of early-voting ever,' said Nikki BainesCharlson, deputy administrator at the State Board of Elections. 'The trend has been that early voting is increasing each election.'
"From West to East Baltimore, thousands of voters headed to the polls to vote ahead of the primary election day. Many said they were motivated by the hotly contested mayor's race in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 10-to-1.
"City Councilman Robert Curran attempted to cast a ballot at The League for People with Disabilities on E. Coldspring Lane but found the lines much too long. In Baltimore, races for mayor and City Council are now at the same time as the presidential races — a change intended to increase turnout.
"This year, early voting in Baltimore and across the state has a new importance: While registration has closed for the April 26 primary election, people can register and vote on the same day during early voting.
"Early voting runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until April 21. There are 67 early-voting locations around the state, including six in Baltimore and nine in Baltimore County. To register to vote during early voting, residents must bring a document proving their address."
From City Paper: Ex-offenders demand answers at mayoral forum
"For the first time ever here in Maryland, ex-offenders can vote before completing probation and parole. As a result, Wednesday night's Ex-Offender Mayoral Candidate Forum, organized by low-income advocacy group Communities United, was probably the first event of its kind in Baltimore.
"However, the forum, which was held at Douglas Memorial Community Church, felt like a missed opportunity. Not because of the approximately 80 ex-offenders in attendance, who brought their most pressing needs before the candidates—but because the candidates seemed to struggle to find real ways to address them all.
"Added to this was the fact that the event was one of at least three happening in the city that same evening, so the candidates were on a tight schedule—racing from one event to the next and likely shortchanging audiences all around town.
"The event began with activist DeRayMckesson, State Sen. Catherine Pugh, Green Party candidate Joshua Harris, Chief of the Criminal Division for the Attorney General Elizabeth Embry, City Councilman Carl Stokes, and businessman David Warnock. About an hour in, Mckesson and Embry left. Then Warnock left and former mayor Sheila Dixon arrived. About two hours in, Harris and Stokes announced they had to leave and Dixon said she had time for two more questions. Fliers said that the event would end at 9 p.m., but it actually ended about an hour earlier.
"The conversation, moderated by WEAA radio host Marc Steiner and former Black Panther, journalist, and activist Eddie Conway, was an opportunity for ex-offenders in the audience to weigh in as the hosts passed the mics. It repeatedly came back to basic needs: jobs, resources to help ex-felons successfully establish life outside of prison, and affordable, adequate housing.
"One man in the audience told the candidates he had never used any of the resources in Baltimore that are aimed at helping ex-offenders because he didn't feel they met the needs of ex-offenders. He said that only an ex-offender can understand an ex-offender. 'Give us our power back!' he said."