But what would a Maryland competition be without the Terps?
According to Micaadjuncts.org — and a friend of mine on Facebook — adjunct professors at Maryland Institute College of Art voted in favor of forming a union yesterday, making them the first at a four-year institution in the state to do so.
The petition to unionize was filed on March 7 by the Service Employees Internation Union. On March 19, MICA president Fred Lazarus sent a memo around to “members of the MICA community” warning adjuncts that the decision to unionize “is a critical decision that will impact the entire College” and that the “busiest [period] of the year” is the wrong time to decide. He advised adjuncts to “vote against unionization at this time” and bring it back up next year. (I can only he assume he gave a big wink after writing that.)
Johns Hopkins Hospital’s service, maintenance, and technical employees went on strike at 6 a.m. and said they will picket around the clock until 6 p.m. Friday to push for hourly wages of at least $14 by the end of a four-year contract and $15 in the first year of a contract for a worker with 15 years of experience.
Union spokesperson Jim McNeill said the workers strike was authorized after the hospital’s “last, best, final” offer of $12.25 or less by the end of a four-year contract was rejected for being “so weak.” The union claims that “40 percent of Hopkins workers with at least 15 years of service make less than $14.92 an hour.” In other words, they qualify for food stamps.
Uh oh. It looks like Maryland’s 2014 legislative session ended without an agreement between the House and Senate on a tax credit to keep the House of Cards production in Maryland. When push came to shove, negotiations between the two chambers stalled out on the issue of invoking eminent domain to seize the property of film and television productions that leave the state. The House refuse to remove the Frank Underwood-worthy language, while the Senate refused to accept it.
The General Assembly acquiesced to Media Rights Capital’s demand for millions more in tax credits to keep the production company shooting Netflix series House of Cards in Maryland (without that crazy amendment). And to help fund them, state lawmakers have agreed to divert up to $2.5 million from the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts, intended for Maryland arts organizations.
The General Assembly justified the rerouting of funds by citing the economic impact of the House of Cards production, judged at $250 million and 6,000 jobs over the past two seasons. Del. Frank S. Turner points out that the money is still funding the arts.
A couple folks at the Martin Prosperity Institute measured poverty distributions across the United States’ more than 350 metro areas using 2010 census data to rank those areas according to how segregated their poor are. It may not shock you to hear that Baltimore makes it into the top 10 (if anything, it’s surprising that, at no. 9, we came in behind areas like New York and Buffalo), but the data revealed that there is only a very small correlation between segregation of poverty and income inequality.
Advocates for a state minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, have just gained a rather well-connected ally in the fight: God. Islamic, Jewish, and Christian religious leaders joined Maryland Democrats at a rally on Monday in Baltimore to voice their support for raise the minimum hourly wage by nearly three dollars.
In 2010, an independent body — formed four years earlier by a ballot referendum — decided that Baltimore’s top elected officials would receive automatic pay raises tied to those of city union workers.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, and city council members are set to each receive a 2.5 percent raise, at a total cost of $31,000.
Though years ago we placed this process in the hands of an independent panel for the sole purpose of making the issue of city officials’ salaries less politically suspicious. But it’s always awkward for the mayor to get a raise — even a small one. It reminds us that she makes over $150,000 a year.
In an article in yesterday’s New York Times, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was quoted as saying, “I’m trying to grow the city, not get smaller.”
That comes as no surprise. By now we’re all familiar with Rawlings-Blake’s goal of attracting 10,000 new families to the city by 2023. But what’s interesting is Baltimore’s commitment to expansion given its simultaneous embrace of razing vacants to the ground. How attractive is a city that is tearing down building after empty building?
The trick is to turn demolition into a bold step forward, rather than a retreat. To that end, Baltimore has been offering many of the vacant lots to urban farming operations, like Boone Street Farm in Midway, which cultivates an eighth-acre site and sells the produce to local eateries and at farmers markets.
Somebody contact Amazon quick and tell them Marylanders have changed their mind: we don’t want the online retail titan to open up a 1,000-employee distribution center in Southeast Baltimore after all. We just realized that with the company maintaining a physical presence in the state residents will have to start paying sales tax on all purchases!
And it won’t even matter if the items we purchase end up coming from the Seattle distribution center. We’ll still be taxed.
Who cares that the jobs pay 30 percent more than standard retail work, or that the sales tax revenue could generate $200 million for the state annually? The madness has to stop somewhere.