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In the Media: Baltimore's Election Results Decertified; Md Environmental Justice Concern

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A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore’s election results decertified, state begins precinct-level review of irregularities

"State election officials ordered the results of Baltimore's primary election decertified Thursday and launched a precinct-level review of irregularities.

"State election administrator Linda H. Lamone said she became concerned when city officials — who on Monday certified their primary election results — later reported they had found 80 provisional ballots that had never been analyzed.

"Lamone said the state also is concerned about an unusually high discrepancy between the number of voters who checked in at polling places and the number of ballots cast. The number of ballots cast was higher than the number of check-ins, she said.

"'Baltimore City was not able to investigate and resolve these issues to our satisfaction,' Lamone said. 'We are doing a precinct-level review. We are doing this in fairness to the candidates and the voters.'

"The investigation is expected to stretch into next week. Lamone said state officials are working to determine the number of ballots that might be in question and the precincts where the discrepancies occurred."

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray case: Trial for Officer Edward Nero continues

"Prosecutors continued to call more witnesses Friday as the trial resumes for Officer Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers facing charges stemming from Freddie Gray's arrest.

"Nero, 30, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault and misconduct related to Gray's arrest, and reckless endangerment and a second count of misconduct stemming from the way Gray was loaded into the van.

"The first witness called to the stand Friday was Brandon Ross, a friend of Gray and witness to part of his arrest, who also testified in the December trial of Officer William Porter.

"Prosecutors also played a cellphone video taken by Kevin Moore of the arrest, presented without sound per the result of a motion filed in court. 

"Ross testified that before he saw Gray loaded into the van, he 'saw Freddie on the ground. He was howling.' Ross said he called 911 twice to report an assault after Gray in the van, giving a fake name for fear of being harassed by officers. 

"Ross told Nero's defense attorney Marc Zayon, when asked if Nero was the officer who handcuffed Gray during the initial stop, that he saw Nero come up with two bicycles after Gray was handcuffed.

"He also testified that he saw a group of officers loading Gray into the van, including Nero, who he said grabbed Gray's feet."

Full Article

Maryland power plant location would violate civil rights, rural Pr. George’s residents say

"Residents of rural southern Prince George’s County filed a federal civil rights complaint Wednesday, saying the state’s approval of a natural-gas-fueled power plant would disproportionately affect their majority-black community.

"Local organizations partnered with Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, to ask the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Transportation Department to investigate whether state regulators discriminated against the community when they issued a permit last fall for construction of the Panda Mattawoman power plant.

"The number of power plants and other industrial enterprises in the southern Prince George’s community of Brandywine has grown in recent decades.

"Residents — 72 percent of whom are African American — say the projects are generating excessive pollution in an environmentally sensitive area. There are two plants in the area, and two more, including Panda Mattawoman, are proposed within 15 miles.

“'We deserve a healthy quality of life, and we don’t deserve to be disproportionately and adversely impacted in our daily lives as it pertains to air quality, traffic and noise,' said Kamita Gray, president of Brandywine BTB, which is behind the complaint. 'We are asking them to listen to the community about the burdens they are asking us to take on.'

"Bill Pentak, vice president of investor relations and public affairs for Panda Power Funds, the company building the plant, said, 'The Maryland Public Service Commission undertook a lengthy and comprehensive analysis of a wide range of issues in granting the Mattawoman Project’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, including the issues raised in the complaint. The complaint is without merit, and we are confident there have been no violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.'

"Gray is one of dozens of local activists who tried to intervene when the Public Service Commission took up the power plant case last year. Neighbors complained that the agency failed to assess the negative effects the project would have on the environment."

Full Article