Politics & Business

Baltimore’s ‘Trump Is Not Above the Law’ protest in photos

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Rep. Elijah Cumming addresses the crowd. Photo by J.M. Giordano.

About 200 protesters assembled at Baltimore’s City Hall on Thursday evening to listen to speeches by local activists and state and federal officials as part of the nationwide “Trump is Not Above the Law” rally.

The protests came after President Donald Trump reportedly forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tapped Matt Whitaker, a U.S. Justice Department official and frequent critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, to serve in an acting capacity.

On Thursday night, Rep. Elijah Cummings, who’s likely to chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in January, told the crowd Whitaker “must recuse himself.”

Here are our photos from the rally.

Protesters, elected officials gather outside City Hall to demand Trump’s new AG step off of Mueller investigation

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Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks at a protest Thursday night demanding Acting Attorney Matthew Whitaker not interfere with Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s investigation. Photo by J.M. Giordano.

“Democratic backsliding–does anybody know what that is?” posed Councilman Kristerfer Burnett to a crowd of at least 200 people downtown on Thursday night. “It’s the gradual deterioration of democratic institutions and practices, and erosion of free and fair elections, of free speech, of free association, of the rule of law. That’s what we’re seeing happening.”

Despite victory, Hogan calls midterms a ‘repudiation’ of Trump

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A day after winning re-election in the Maryland governor’s race, Larry Hogan, center, held a celebratory press conference. (Photo by Brooks DuBose/Capital News Service)

By Brooks DuBose
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — A day after winning re-election in the Maryland governor’s race, Gov. Larry Hogan held a congratulatory press conference in which he looked ahead to his next four years, and mused on the reasons for his win, including disconnection from the policies of President Donald Trump.

Baltimoreans approve ballot measures fending off water privatization, creating independent inspector general and more

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Photo by Wally Gobetz, via Flickr

The election is over, Larry Hogan has been re-elected to a second term as governor, and Democrats still dominate the General Assembly and Maryland House delegation. There were few surprises last night in the city—with the exception of 32 percent of Baltimoreans backing the Republican incumbent for governor over Ben Jealous—but there were some big changes approved as ballot measures.

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:

State report: Marylanders overpaying by nearly $55 million for electricity, gas from using third-party suppliers

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Photo by John Douglas, via Flickr

We’re nearly two decades out from the moment Maryland lawmakers decided to deregulate the state’s energy markets in hopes of boosting competition and driving down prices for consumers. A first-of-its-kind, state-commissioned report confirms what some observers already figured: Many Marylanders are getting swindled on their rates by third-party suppliers.

A recap of Baltimore Fishbowl’s 2018 election stories

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Photo by Justin Grimes, via Flickr

It’s finally here: Election Day. While many across the country will be focused on the Democrats’ chances of taking back one or both houses of Congress, there’s no shortage of interesting races going on here in Maryland. Since the primary, Baltimore Fishbowl has written stories about and/or interviewed some of the candidates on the ballot.

Here’s a quick roundup of our coverage.

Report: Under Armour no longer covering employees’ strip club outings

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Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank in 2016. Photo via Maryland GovPics/Flickr.

Under Armour hasn’t escaped the #MeToo movement unscathed.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, employees at the South Baltimore athletic apparel giant were informed earlier this year that corporate wouldn’t continue paying for their trips to local strip clubs with company credit cards. And the same brief exposé, published today, alleges a deeper culture of sexism and misconduct in the company’s upper ranks.

Where to party and watch the 2018 election results in Baltimore

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While we’re plugging away at another live blog of Maryland’s election results on Tuesday night, you’ll have a bevy of venues to choose from around Baltimore to celebrate (or commiserate) over you and your fellow voters’ decisions in 2018.

We’ve thrown together a list of spots to gather (inside, away from the rain) while the results roll in on election night. Polls shut down at 8 p.m.

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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