Federal judges feel impact of vacancy, departures from Baltimore bench

Retirements, an unfilled vacancy, and a persistent flow of complex civil and criminal litigation have combined to strain the resources of Baltimore’s federal bench in recent years. Though case filings are not up dramatically, there aren’t as many judges available to preside over them, according to Judge James K. Bredar, chief district judge for the U.S. District Court in Maryland, who called the current situation an “anomalous period” for the court. “I know the lawyers and the judges are experiencing this as a very busy period in our court,” he said. “I know that, but we’re keeping up.” Maryland has 10 judgeships, six assigned to Baltimore and four to Greenbelt. (Daily Record)

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Baltimore City Council delegation heads home from Texas trip, plans vetting report on police commissioner nominee

A group of Baltimore City Council members departed Fort Worth on Tuesday after hearing from leaders in the Texas city about police commissioner nominee Joel Fitzgerald, but said they won’t share any conclusions until the new year. Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the four council members met with 40 people over the course of 20 hours. He promised to issue in January a written report with a full accounting of the meetings. “The members of the delegation and I will spend time digesting the information we gathered and refrain from public comment until the report is published,” Young said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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Farm Bill Makes More Funds Available For Chesapeake Bay

A Maryland senator says the federal farm bill makes more money available to help the Chesapeake Bay. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Tuesday the measure includes parts of his Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act. The measure contains $300 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program each year. It provides funding to conservation groups and farmers to work together to cut pollution and improve water quality. It was created in 2014 to prioritize conservation resources that once were handled in separate conservation programs. (WBAL-AP)

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Westminster Council introduces bill to allow sale of firearms downtown

The Westminster Common Council voted unanimously Monday, Dec. 10 to introduce an ordinance that would allow the sale of firearms as permitted use under special exception to the city’s Main Street and historic downtown area. Similar legislation passed in February reopened the door for tattoo parlors in the Downtown Business Zone. Ordinance 903 would do the same for the legal sale of guns in Downtown Westminster. Firearms are the only item that remains forbidden from the city epicenter, said Councilman Tony Chiavacci. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Two Buckley administration officials to leave

The City of Annapolis communication officer and economic development manager will leave in the same week, officials said. Communication officer Susan O’Brien, who has handled public relations since Mayor Gavin Buckley’s campaign, announced Tuesday she’d be leaving on Jan. 4 to pursue other professional positions. Hollis Minor, an economic planner starting under Mayor Mike Pantelides, will leave as well. Her last day is on Dec. 31. “It’s a good time for me to take a different path,” O’Brien said. “I told Gavin I’d help him get launched and that was the understanding.” (Capital)

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Aberdeen council approves, 4-1, spending $150,000 for legal expenses in Ripken lawsuit

The City of Aberdeen has allocated up to $150,000 to begin defending itself from a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Tufton Professional Baseball LLC, which owns the Aberdeen IronBirds minor league baseball team. The mayor and council voted 4-1 Monday to amend the city’s fiscal 2019 budget to cover a transfer from its general fund balance to the Ripken Stadium fund, a separate enterprise fund in the overall city budget. Councilman Tim Lindecamp cast the negative vote, saying “I believe this is a waste of taxpayer money.” (Aegis)

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Maryland Symphony Orchestra executive director to leave at end of January

After what will be 16 months as executive director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Marc Beaudoin is leaving to accept a position with a Washington-based music organization. Beaudoin told Herald-Mail Media on Tuesday that he is not yet at liberty to say which organization he’s joining, but he will be with the MSO until the end of January. “I am here fully committed until the last second,” he said. Beaudoin said he and the MSO board are drafting a transition plan that will include naming an interim executive director. The board then will decide on a long-term plan. (Herald-Mail)

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December 11 // Md. health exchange hopes ad, event push boosts open enrollments in final week

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state's Obamacare marketplace, hopes a final advertising push and a slew of free enrollment events leading up to Saturday will help force enrollments up and the uninsured rate down from last year. Open enrollment season for 2019 closes Dec. 15. Maryland's exchange is doubling down on radio and TV spots, and hosting "last chance" enrollment assistance events across the state, in a last ditch effort to get more Marylanders to purchase health insurance. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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