One of our goals at The Baltimore Banner is for our stories to make an impact. In just seven months since we’ve launched, we’ve seen that goal become a reality.
See a list of some of our most impactful accountability stories below, along with the results of our reporting.
Families distraught: Baltimore parking garage turned into morgue as 200 bodies await autopsy
Published Feb. 9, 2022
More than 200 bodies are awaiting autopsies by doctors at Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the agency located in downtown Baltimore responsible for investigating deaths statewide. The unprecedented backlog is growing by the day and filling up the morgue refrigerators. Local funeral directors say it’s also worsening the anguish for grieving families, some of whom have been forced to postpone funerals and missed the chance to say goodbye to a loved one.
Impact: This was the first story we published, and it led to the resignation of the chief medical examiner one week later. Within a few weeks, federal authorities came in to help the city clear its backlog.
One block in Carrollton Ridge offers a microcosm of Baltimore’s struggle with vacant properties
Published Nov. 8, 2022
These are some of the owners of property on just one side of one block in one of Baltimore’s most blighted neighborhoods — and a snapshot of who owns blighted property throughout the city.
Impact: We began reporting on a Philadelphia-based developer, ABC Capital, that was attracting foreign investors to renovate and rent out formerly distressed or vacant Baltimore homes. Our investigation revealed dozens of homes were neither renovated nor occupied. The company, facing lawsuits from clients, recently filed for bankruptcy following our coverage.
One woman’s quest for justice after almost $3,000 of benefits were stolen
Published Sept. 9, 2022
As Renee Z entered a convenience store in Temple Hills in Prince George’s County, she nervously scanned the store for someone to ask for help. She had an unusual request: Could she watch security footage of recent customers making a large purchase at the store?
After relaying her story to several employees, one of them at last invited her into the control room to watch the videos. The employee scrolled through hours of footage. And then there they were: a man and a woman buying almost $1,200 worth of baby formula.
Renee didn’t recognize them, but angry tears crept into her eyes. They were using some of the nearly $3,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that had been stolen from her account weeks earlier — making her one of a growing number of victims of benefits theft across the country.
Impact: As part of a $1.7 trillion spending bill passed in December, Congress will require states to reissue stolen food assistance. This means participants like Renee, who state agencies determine had their benefits stolen through card skimming or card cloning, can have their benefits reissued. The bill was inspired, in part, by reporting from The Banner.
Attorney general opinion: ‘Significant possibility’ Baltimore County bill would violate Maryland environmental rules
Published Aug. 24, 2022
The Maryland attorney general’s office says it “seems clear” a Baltimore County Councilwoman’s proposal to exempt waterfront business owners from some environmental protection requirements would violate state law, but that the final decision would be up to a state commission.
The bill, which Democratic Councilwoman Cathy Bevins proposed, would exempt waterfront hospitality businesses that want to build or expand from certain state restrictions.
Impact: Councilwoman Cathy Bevins withdrew the bill before it was even discussed by the council.
Baltimore lawmaker takes aim at ‘predatory’ real estate practices
Published Oct. 21, 2022
A state delegate plans to introduce legislation that would restrict predatory real estate practices, including the exclusive right-to-list agreements reported on by The Baltimore Banner in October.
Del. Marlon Amprey, a Baltimore Democrat, is drafting a bill to be introduced in early 2023 that would seek to protect homeowners from predatory realty and lending companies that Amprey says are siphoning generational wealth from homeowners — especially Black homeowners.
Impact: We reported on a real estate company providing cash payments to homeowners who were strapped for cash, but the fine print included a long-term, exclusive right to list their property for 40 years. Following the articles, a state delegate announced plans to introduce legislation to restrict this type of predatory practice.
City to conduct traffic calming study on Orleans Street
Published Sept. 8, 2022
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is looking for ways to ease traffic along the busy and congested Orleans Street corridor after years of complaints from residents.
Liam Davis, the legislative affairs manager for the department, said the city is committed to implementing some traffic-calming measures and conducting a six-month study of the corridor.
Impact: An analysis of traffic crashes on Orleans Street published in July voiced residents’ desire for increased action to address continuing traffic concerns. Our article was a factor in the Baltimore City Department of Transportation conducting a traffic-calming study by the end of the year.
Banner political notes: Help for renters; Towson U protest; grabbing a cold one
Published Oct. 1, 2022
Baltimore City made new commitments to improving its eviction prevention programs last week under mounting pressure from renter advocacy groups and following the publication of a story in The Banner about delays in the city’s rental assistance program.
Impact: Our reporting on rental assistance delays that left Baltimore tenants at risk for eviction led to Baltimore City announcing improvements to its eviction prevention programs, including committing an additional $400,000 to a program that provides legal representation to tenants facing eviction and other improvements.
Maryland state park superintendent fired amid turmoil, toxic culture at Gunpowder Falls
Published Nov. 18, 2022
Nita Settina, the superintendent of the Maryland Park Service who had failed to act on numerous complaints about a top park official now facing rape charges, was fired Friday morning, park employees said.
Spokesman Gregg Bortz said he could not comment on the terms of Settina’s departure, citing personnel privacy. Bortz also confirmed that Steve McCoy, the regional manager whose area included Gunpowder Falls State Park, is also no longer employed by the agency.
Impact: In-depth coverage of the toxic work culture at Gunpowder Falls State Park has brought visibility to years of complaints and resulted in the removal of the superintendent of the Maryland Park Service and two other park officials. The investigation by The Banner gave a voice to many staff who had followed proper channels without seeing any action taken.