December 5 // Maryland's school rankings tell us what we already know — your education depends on where you live

If you live in Howard County, there’s a better than 70 percent chance that your kids can attend an above-average public school, and a two-in-five shot that they’ll go to one of the best schools in the state. If you live in Baltimore City, there’s little chance (less than 2 percent, to be precise) that your kids’ school just got a top, five-star rating from the state. But there’s a 60 percent chance that it will be below average, and of the 35 schools the state gave just one star, 23 were in Baltimore City. Ratings like these are an imperfect science.  But what is inescapable in looking at the data is the conclusion that a Maryland child’s chances in life are inextricably linked to where he or she grows up. (Balt. Sun)

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Tisha Guthrie: Baltimore bill would end landlord source-of-income discrimination

As families in Baltimore City and across the nation struggle to find safe, decent and affordable housing, a bill introduced Monday in the Baltimore City Council can play an integral role in eliminating a significant barrier to actualizing this goal for our most vulnerable neighbors — without costing taxpayers a cent. Council Bill 18-0308, introduced by council member Ryan Dorsey, will protect Baltimore City renters by prohibiting discrimination in housing based solely on source of income. In practical terms, it will require landlords to judge potential tenants in an equitable manner — and ban the widespread practice of refusing to rent to families enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (formerly called Section 8). (Balt. Sun)

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Dan Rodricks: Killing of woman helping panhandler is another temptation to lose faith in Baltimore. Here's how to keep it instead.

There are days and weeks in the city of Baltimore when it’s hard to think past the latest horror. This time the victim is Jacquelyn Smith, who, police say, was stabbed to death after being kind and generous to a panhandling stranger through a car window. Consider the utter depravity of that act, and it’s hard to think of anything else. Since early 2015, we in this city have been pushed to the borders of hopelessness by the rise in violence, the revelations of cop corruption, and the dysfunction in leadership. (Balt. Sun)

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Rev. Jamal Bryant: 'My heart is forever Baltimore'

I am Baltimore. I am Lexington Market. I am late night walks around Harbor East. I am summer swims at Patterson Park. I am egg custard snowballs. My story is uniquely “Baltimore” like crab cakes and club music. This city is my home and ground zero for the fruition of every dream that God has ever placed on my heart — a family, a ministry and a church. Much like Baltimore, I have seen good and bad days, highs and lows, wins and losses. But I have never run from a challenge or cowered in the face of obstacles. I am strong and proud and resilient because that’s what my city raised me to be. (Balt. Sun)

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Anne Arundel's appointed school board era ending on a discordant note

The appointment of Robert Leib to the Board of Education marks two milestones for Anne Arundel County politics. First, his is probably the last regular appointment to the board. Barring any surprise resignations, future members will be selected on election day. Second, if it wasn’t abundantly clear to everyone by now, the reaction to Leib’s selection for the District 30 vacancy illustrates just how social media posts will haunt you in public life. (Capital)

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John Piotti: No farms? No future

Some might not think of it this way, but farmland is critical infrastructure akin to roads and bridges. It is the source of the food that sustains us. In addition, farmland provides open space, areas for recreation and habitat for wildlife. It controls floods, suppresses fires, filters water and represents a vast carbon sink to mitigate — and even help reverse — climate change. Think Maryland’s Eastern Shore. That’s why we are asking the Maryland Department of Transportation to consider farmland among the impacts in the Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study. (Balt. Sun)

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December 4 // Maryland's new leaders: Time to try transparency

From Ellicott City to Annapolis, today marks a major turnover in the ranks of Maryland’s county executives, particularly in the Baltimore suburbs where two incumbents handed over their offices after losing lost re-election bids (a rarity in state politics). While the new executives’ circumstances differ from county to county, collectively they would be wise to follow a single philosophy: Keep voters informed of what’s going on, explain how and why decisions are made, and, above all else, be transparent. (Balt. Sun)

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Does pay-to-play work in Baltimore City Hall? Some liquor store owners sure think so.

Back when the Senate was considering the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, activists in Maine engaged in an unusually direct effort to sway a presumed swing vote, Republican Sen. Susan Collins. They started amassing pledges for donations to her eventual opponent in 2020, to be collected only if she voted yes. If she voted against confirmation, no money would change hands. Ms. Collins cried foul, accusing the groups of crossing the line into outright bribery, and some ethics experts agreed. But really, wasn’t this just a less subtle version of what goes on all the time when people give money to politicians? (Balt. Sun)

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