Brandon Weigel and Ethan McLeod

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Delegate says Pimlico lawsuit shows city is serious about keeping Preakness

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Pimlico Race Course on Preakness day. Photo by World Red Eye.

With persisting uncertainty surrounding the future of Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore, the city and a handful of Park Heights residents and officials are taking Ontario-based track operator the Stronach Group to court, in hopes of taking over the track and the Preakness Stakes outright.

One day after Fitzgerald withdraws, Pugh picks New Orleans police chief as BPD’s next commissioner

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Image via the New Orleans Police Department

Within 24 hours of Joel Fitzgerald’s decision to withdraw from the confirmation process to be Baltimore’s next police chief, Mayor Catherine Pugh has picked another finalist from her fraught search process: New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison.

A roundup of New Year’s Eve events to ring in 2019

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Image courtesy of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

The new year is almost here, and Baltimore restaurants and bars will be celebrating all across town will be celebrating. While there will be no shortage of places offering food and drink specials, we wanted to round up a list of some of the best theme parties, musical performances, vibrant displays and special events to ring in the new year. Here’s a list of some of the best parties happening in Baltimore on and leading up to New Year’s Eve:

The top Baltimore sports stories of 2018

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The scene before first pitch at last night’s Orioles-Blue Jays game. Photo by Brandon Weigel.

A lot happened in Baltimore sports in 2018. Yes, that’s bound to happen every year by virtue of all the games played. But a look at all the major developments for the area’s pro and college teams shows there were truly seismic changes. After years of competitive baseball, the Orioles fell flat on their faces, leading to a complete overhaul. On the verge of winning the AFC North, the Ravens are approaching the end of the Ozzie Newsome era and, by all accounts, have already concluded the Joe Flacco one.

Those are just a few of the major storylines to make our list.

Baltimore Fishbowl’s 18 top stories from 2018

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Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr

It’s been a long year, Baltimore. There were travesties, from the mass shooting at a newsroom in Annapolis to the frighteningly familiar tally of 300-plus people murdered in the city limits, to the death of Baltimore County’s top official.

The city tried out new tools for transportation and embraced a vision for change with Complete Streets. Officials and voters banded together to stave off any attempts at privatizing the city’s water system. The council and Mayor Catherine Pugh renewed the city’s commitment to preserving racial equality with a new fund, plus rules requiring agencies to consider equity in their decisions.

And there were opportunities to reflect, like when kids trying to make some money washing windows became a flashpoint conversation topic, or make good out of the bad, as with multiple Baltimore Ceasefire weekends that brought Baltimoreans together to confront a tide of violence.

Here’s a list of 18 of Baltimore’s biggest storylines from 2018. While it’s far from exhaustive, it should help to recap many of the changes that happened in the Baltimore area this year, and guide you toward some of the issues we’ll likely be covering in the new year.

The Bell Foundry sells for $725,000, ‘urban living’ complex planned

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Photo by Eli Pousson, via Flickr

Once a thriving DIY arts space in Station North, before its tenants were abruptly evicted and the building was condemned by the city over code violations in December 2016, the Bell Foundry building has now been sold to developers to be built into an “urban living” complex.

A guide to Baltimore’s holiday markets

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Photo courtesy of Visit Baltimore.

Today is Black Friday, the official start of long lines and frantically going from chain store to chain store to cross items off your holiday shopping list. This year, forget all that. From now until late December, the Baltimore area will have dozens of holiday markets that have a much cooler atmosphere than a shopping mall and feature fun activities while you shop, along with clothing, jewelry, artwork, crafts and many other items made by crafters and makers from right here in Baltimore.

Here’s a roundup of the best markets and bazaars in the area.

With ongoing Pabst-MillerCoors dispute, Natty Boh’s future may hang in the balance

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Mr. Boh looks East.

The future of Natty Boh may be decided in a Milwaukee courtroom.

Baltimore Fishbowl’s 2018 Midterm Election live blog

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

After all the months of polls, campaign ads and debates–or in the case of Maryland’s gubernatorial election, a single debate–people across the country finally cast their ballots in today’s midterm elections. Nationally, analysts will be looking to see if voters deliver a blue wave, with candidates like Texas’ Beto O’Rourke and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams tapping into many Americans’ anger and resentment over President Donald Trump.

Knowing there will be no shortage of national coverage on the fate of the Congress, we here at Baltimore Fishbowl will instead focus on some of the races here in Baltimore and across the Old Line State, where polls close at 8 p.m. Here are a few races we’ll be keying on as the results roll in:

Q&A: Comptroller Peter Franchot slams ‘corrupt’ culture of Annapolis, talks booze laws, State Center, school funding and more

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Image via the Comptroller’s Office.

Peter Franchot pulls no punches when discussing his Democratic colleagues in Annapolis. During the late 1980s, in his first years spent representing Takoma Park and Silver Spring in the Maryland House of Delegates, he says he was “ecstatic when someone came and told me 15 minutes before everybody else what I had to vote on and how to vote.”

But since his later years as a veteran legislator in the General Assembly—and increasingly over his past three terms as comptroller of Maryland—he’s grown not just tired, but outright critical, of the mechanics of the State House, in which leadership dictates how members vote if they want to remain in the party’s good graces.

“After 40 years of that, where nobody is sending anything back up the chain of command, it becomes corrupt, and it’s corrupt right now,” he says. His criticism is bipartisan, he claims: “If it were Republicans, it would be the same thing, because it’s just human nature.”

A lifelong Democrat, Franchot was first elected as the state’s chief financial officer in 2006. After serving through two terms with Martin O’Malley and one so far with Gov. Larry Hogan, he’s set be elected for a fourth time next Tuesday, barring a surprise upset from his Republican opponent, Anjali Reed Phukan.

To the chagrin of Democratic Party leaders, Franchot and Hogan became fast friends when Hogan was elected in 2014, bonding over a shared enthusiasm for fiscal conservativism, publicly grilling state employees over contracts and doing battle with Baltimore City and County schools officials over a lack of adequate or functional heating and air conditioning in schools.

Things came to a head this past spring, when Franchot came out campaigning against the two top Democrats in the State House after the legislature voted to strip the Board of Public Works—of which he and Hogan are members, along with Treasurer Nancy Kopp—of its role in school construction- and maintenance-funding decisions.

Lawmakers also killed his championed overhaul of craft brewing regulations for craft brewing, and passed legislation creating a task force to examine whether the comptroller’s office should even maintain any oversight of alcohol policy. He’s still smarting over the fact that Eric Best, an executive with the distributor Bob Hall, LLC, came out against the reform effort in an interview with The Sun and said there were concerns about excessive drinking, only to later release 77-packs of Natural Light in College Park.

“They came after me on the public health issue and then they got caught. Eric Best… got caught with his pants down,” he says. “College Park, it’s the only place they sold it in Maryland, and the only time was homecoming. It’s cheap beer, binge drinking, young people, underage drinking, all of it was kind of embodied by that.”

Ahead of the election, Franchot’s doubled down on his message of contempt for entrenched party leadership. “The insiders always win, and everyone else is left behind,” asserts an ad for Franchot’s campaign that’s been circulating in the Baltimore area recently, painting Annapolis as a cesspool of corruption and backroom deals.

The comptroller, his chief of staff, Len Foxwell, and press secretary, Alan Brody, stopped by Baltimore Fishbowl this week for a nearly hour-long conversation with managing editor Brandon Weigel and senior editor Ethan McLeod about booze regulations, government, federal tax policies, Franchot’s decision not to support fellow Democrat Ben Jealous in the gubernatorial election and more. Here’s an edited transcript of the conversation:

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