MTA administrator asks for peer review of agency's handling of Baltimore Metro track issues

Maryland transportation officials, facing criticism of the state’s handling of track problems that have shut down Baltimore’s Metro for repairs, requested an outside review on Thursday of the Maryland Transit Administration’s handling of maintenance issues on the subway. The review request comes as the Federal Transit Administration is conducting its own review of the problems with Metro SubwayLink, said Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation. (Balt. Sun)

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Federal authorities sharing evidence from Baltimore police corruption investigation with local authorities

The federal authorities who prosecuted Baltimore’s corrupt police Gun Trace Task Force say they are now sharing evidence with local authorities for charges that could be filed on the local level. A Baltimore police spokesman said Commissioner Darryl De Sousa is working with the head of the FBI field office to do an “after-action review” of the case. (Balt. Sun)

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U.S. Surgeon General talks tobacco and cigarette smoking in Baltimore

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams has a complicated relationship with tobacco. He grew up working on his grandfather’s tobacco farm in St. Mary’s County, where he made money to buy sneakers and a prom suit. But his grandfather was also a life-long smoker who died from complications of lung cancer surgery when Adams was in high school. And Adams suffered from asthma so severe as a child he once had to be airlifted to a children’s hospital in Washington, D.C. The tobacco industry “paid for the clothes on my back as a youth and also prematurely ended my grandfather’s life,” Adams told a crowd at the annual convention of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco at the Baltimore Hilton. (Balt. Sun)

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A group is trying to get the grounded Baltimore police surveillance airplane flying again. The pitch: It can catch corrupt cops

When Archie Williams first heard the pitch about what he calls the “eye in the sky” — the privately funded surveillance plane that flew over Baltimore in 2016 collecting video for police — he leaned back in his chair defiantly with his arms crossed. The West Baltimore man spent more than a decade in prison on drug charges and was homeless for years. He wanted nothing to do with the secretive airplane he saw as just another tool to arrest more black men like him. But then he heard the surveillance company’s president say something that made his ears perk up: The plane’s cameras could be used to watch the police. (Balt. Sun)

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Howard executive highlights cooperation, announces opioid-fighting initiatives

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman applauded the “awesome” achievements of the county in the past year during his fourth State of the County address on Thursday and announced new initiatives to combat the opioid crisis. Striking a similar tone to Gov. Larry Hogan’s January State of the State address, Kittleman, a Republican, distanced himself from the “confrontational politics” of Washington in his 41-minute speech, but like Hogan never mentioned President Donald Trump by name. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Amid scandal and distrust, De Sousa nomination moves forward

At the confirmation hearing for Baltimore’s acting police commissioner, Darryl De Sousa, it was almost as if the two groups – City Council members and members of the public – were in separate universes. What would he do to root out “the bad guys with badges?” What about training and recruitment? How about performance audits? Mayor Catherine Pugh’s pick to take over the scandal-plagued agency fielded these polite queries with ease, offering everything from his new Anti-Corruption Unit to his idea to bring back the “Officer Friendly” program. But when regular citizens – many deeply angry and skeptical – came to the microphone, they were not permitted to ask the 30-year veteran anything. (Brew)

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The last straw: Annapolis Green seeks to reduce plastic straw use

Right in the middle of Annapolis Restaurant Week, eco-conscious Annapolis Green will kick off a campaign to reduce, if not eliminate, plastic drinking straw use in area restaurants. They are hoping to help curtain the growing problem of plastics pollution. “We are joining with other organizations and communities around the world to draw attention to the unnecessary use of single-use plastic straws,” Annapolis Green President Elvia Thompson said. (Capital)

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Annapolis housing authority commissioner Corey Johnson dies at age 48

In a shock to his colleagues on the board, a Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis commissioner died last week. Corey Johnson, 48, died Feb. 14 after serving the housing authority for four months. Reached by phone, Johnson’s mother declined to confirm his cause of death. The city does not have official word on cause of death, said spokeswoman Susan O’Brien. (Capital)

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