In the Media: Baltimore Police Use Tool to Monitor Social Media; Md. Carbon Emission Cuts
A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.
From the Baltimore Sun: Police in Baltimore, surrounding communities using Geogeedia to monitor social media posts
"Police in Baltimore and surrounding communities have been using a service that monitors, maps and stores citizens' social media posts — a practice that has drawn the concern of civil libertarians.
"Baltimore police say they have used the service, called Geofeedia, to monitor protests, parades and holiday celebrations. In Howard County, police used it to gather information and find people who needed help during the July flooding in Ellicott City, and after the Columbia Mall shooting in 2014.
"Posts collected by law enforcement are archived in a secure data warehouse, according to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun using the Maryland Public Information Act.
"Civil libertarians warn that such monitoring can have a chilling effect on political speech. Police emphasize that they monitor only the social media posts that users share publicly.
"'The only people that have anything to fear about anything being monitored are those that are criminals and attempting to commit criminal acts,' Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said. 'We're not looking for what you did last night and your selfies and your Snapchats. We don't have time for that.'
"Smith said police search for 'things that might be of concern,' such as threats of violence. He declined to give details on how police conduct such searches.
"Baltimore police have used an aerial surveillance plane to record footage of the streets below, and 'stingray' technology that tracks cell phone signals. Aaron Mackey, a lawyer at the civil liberties watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation, says such technologies raise questions.
"'None of this is being used in isolation,' Mackey said. 'Are you seeing the community as an adversary in a war setting, or are you seeing them as the public you are serving?'
"At least five area police departments use the service: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Laurel.
"Geofeedia, based in Chicago, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The platform allows users to map out people's posts from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other social media outlets."
Read the full article at the Baltimore Sun
From the Washington Post: Maryland balks at push for deeper cuts to power-plan carbon emissions
"Maryland officials are resisting a push to deepen carbon-emission cuts as part of a regional agreement to reduce power-plant pollution.
"The nine East Coast states that make up the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are negotiating new terms for the pact, set to expire in 2020. Massachusetts has joined environmental advocates pushing for a cap on carbon emissions from power plants that would fall 5 percent a year for the next decade, or twice the current rate.
"Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said the proposal could result in higher power bills for Marylanders and harm the state’s economy. If adopted, he said, Maryland would consider pulling out of the regional pact for the first time since it formed in 2008.
“''I’m sure every single state could agree if the caps are too stringent for that particular state . . . then those states would be very vocal in saying, "We can’t accept that," ' Grumbles said.
"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative creates a local cap-and-trade system that limits how much plants can pollute, and holds auctions where energy producers bid against each other for rights to emit carbon. Proceeds from the auctions fund clean-energy initiatives aimed at combating climate change.
"In addition to Maryland and Massachusetts, the pact includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. New Jersey pulled out of the pact in 2011.
"The Boston Globe was the first to report that Maryland was reconsidering its role in the regional pact. Grumbles says leaving is a last resort, and called the greenhouse-gas reduction program a success that should be expanded with additional states."
Read the full article at the Washington Post
From the Baltimore Brew: Groups Reject Port Covington developer’s final offer, calling it “empty”
"Two of three coalition groups negotiating with the company seeking $660 million in public financing for the Port Covington project have rejected the Sagamore Develoment Company’s 'last best offer,' saying it has 'a gaping loophole' on affordable housing and that the parties are 'oceans apart' on jobs, profit sharing and other issues as well.
“'Our coalition didn’t walk away from the table, Sagamore overturned the table,' said Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families and a co-chair of People Organized for Responsible Transformation, Tax Subsidies and TIFs (PORT3).
"Carter said negotiations suddenly deteriorated on Wednesday after City Councilman Carl Stokes stepped away from the closed-door City Hall sessions.
“'That’s when things changed. . . We were stunned by what they were saying: "By 3 o’clock Friday, we’ll have our last best offer – take it or leave it,"' said Carter.
“'We thought we were making progress. . . But by the time they articulated their last, best offer it was almost back to the starting point. It’s now an empty gesture.'
T"he developer agreed to begin the bargaining after the groups complained at an acrimonious City Council work session that Sagamore was refusing to meet with them.
"Stokes, who could not be reached for this story, has previously said he planned time away with his family this week.
"Carter was speaking for Build Up Baltimore, as well as PORT3, two coalitions which represent over 167 labor, housing advocacy, consumer rights, anti-racism, community-based organizations and churches across Baltimore.
"Sources say a third coalition group negotiating with Sagamore – BUILD, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development – has indicated it will sign an agreement in which the developer commits to a mandatory 20% affordable housing requirement."
Read the full article at the Baltimore Brew
From the AFRO American: Community Town Hall for Policing Reforms in Baltimore City
"A Community Town Hall at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law will gather community input for needed policing reforms in Baltimore City. The U.S. Department of Justice recently released the findings of its investigation into policing practices of the Baltimore Police Department. As a result, the City of Baltimore and the Justice Department are negotiating a court-enforceable agreement that will address the civil rights violations identified in the report.
"The event, open to the public, gives community members the opportunity to share with each other and with officials, including Department of Justice representatives, their ideas on how to improve policing practices in Baltimore.
"The Town Hall will include brief remarks from U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF); and Donald Tobin, dean of Maryland Carey Law. The event is cosponsored by Maryland Carey Law and its Black Law Students Association, the Student Bar Association and the Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, as well as the Legal Defense Fund and Congressman Cummings."
More information at the AFRO American