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In the Media: Officer Nero Bench Trial to Begin Thurs; Report on Increasing Rents and low Incomes

Baltimore City skyline.
Phil Gold
Baltimore City skyline.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray case: Officer Edward Nero opts for bench trial, to begin Thursday

"Officer Edward Nero, one of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest of Freddie Gray, formally elected to have a bench trial, which will begin Thursday in a downtown Baltimore courtroom.

"Prosecutors and Nero's defense attorneys appeared before Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams at a pre-trial hearing Tuesday to discuss a range of written motions filed in advance of the trial's start this week. 

"Nero, one of three bicycle cops involved in Gray's initial detention and arrest on April 12, 2015, is charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. He has not been charged in Gray's death.

"At the hearing, Williams ruled on the admissibility of certain evidence and testimony during the trial, including whether to allow discussion of the fatal injuries Gray suffered while in police custody.

"Williams said he will allow discussion of Gray's injuries, but not allow medical experts to go "step by step" through them. He also ruled that there will be no discussion of the knife Freddie Gray was carrying when he was arrested."

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Also From the Baltimore SunOfficer Edward M. Nero trial: What you need to know

From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore faces ‘double crisis’ with increasing rents and low incomes, report says

"Stagnant wages and rising rents have created a 'double crisis' in Baltimore, where more than half of the city's renters live in housing considered unaffordable, a new report says.

"Many of the families struggling to pay rent are poor, but costs also have increased sharply for a growing number of working- and middle-class renters, according to the report for the Abell Foundation, which looked at data from the American Community Survey and American Housing Survey.

"Nearly 30 percent of Baltimore's renter families earning between $40,000 and $75,000 a year spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing, considered the standard for affordability. That's up from about 7 percent in 1998 and 11 percent in 2007, according to the report.

"'There is this emergent trend within the midmarket, where they can live,' said the report's author, Phil M.E. Garboden, a Johns Hopkins University graduate student. 'Those families are becoming increasingly burdened.'

"Middle-income households remain a small part of the rental market in Baltimore, where more than a third of renter families live below the poverty line, yet more and more people are being priced out of affordable housing.

"The trend is similar to patterns seen across the country, where the number of renters has outstripped supply of homes, even as incomes remain largely static.

"'That's what's pinching middle-income households the most … that they're seeing household costs go up at the same time their incomes haven't kept pace,' said Jonathan Spader, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

"Female-headed households in Baltimore are especially burdened, as they need more space for children but don't necessarily have larger incomes, the report found. Black households also typically face more affordability problems than white households in Baltimore."

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From the Baltimore Sun: Catherine Pugh officially wins Democratic primary in Baltimore mayor’s race

"Baltimore's Board of Elections formally certified Monday that state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh won the Democratic primary for mayor. The official tally came after last week's count of absentee and provisional ballots did not change the unofficial result in any race.

"Pugh defeated former Mayor Sheila Dixon — who has questioned the integrity of the April 26 primary and is mulling legal options — 36.6 percent to 34.7 percent.

"Dixon has three days to ask for a recount, which she would need to pay for with campaign funds. A court challenge would have to be filed within seven days.

"Martha McKenna, a spokeswoman for Dixon, said the former mayor's team has yet to analyze precinct-level data to make an informed decision about a recount.

"As she did on election night, Pugh declared victory Monday and thanked voters."

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