Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he’s bowing out from planned visits to Harvard University over concerns of antisemitism on campus.
Hogan, a Republican, cited the “dangerous anti-Semitism that has taken root” at Harvard, “especially by more than 30 Harvard student organizations attempting to justify and celebrate Hamas’ terrorism against innocent Israeli and American civilians.”
Though he noted students have a right to free speech, Hogan suggested the students had engaged in hate speech that hasn’t been sufficiently challenged.
“Harvard’s failure to immediately and forcefully denounce the anti-Semitic vitriol from these students is in my opinion a moral stain on the University,” he wrote in a letter to Harvard’s president on Monday.
After Hogan sent the letter and posted about it on social media, he went on a media tour of CNBC, Fox News and ABC to talk about it.
On the day that the terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel earlier this month, 30 student groups posted an open letter on social media saying that Israel was “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” according to The New York Times. The letter went viral and students involved in those groups have since been doxxed and threatened.
In response to questions from The Baltimore Banner, Harvard pointed to comments that university President Claudine Gay made at an alumni event on Monday, saying that she condemns antisemitism and is “100% committed to making sure that Jewish life thrives here on our campus.”
Hogan said he was lined up to serve as a fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health next month. Hogan gave a talk to students in the Harvard Kennedy school last fall.
Harvard said that Hogan has been an advisor to the Kennedy School’s Hauser Leaders Program and was scheduled to visit for two days in November. Additionally, the Chan School invited Hogan to serve as a fellow, but “due to his limited availability,” Hogan instead was scheduled for two days at the school for a public question-and-answer and smaller meetings and roundtable discussions.
Pittman makes a pitch for ‘essential worker’ housing bill
County Executive Steuart Pittman may not have the votes from the Anne Arundel County Council to pass the Essential Worker Housing Access Act bill he’s spearheading — at least, according to Pittman, in an emailed appeal to community members Friday.
The county executive encouraged constituents to send written testimony or appear in person at a Nov. 6 County Council meeting where the housing access bill will be heard. The ordinance would require a portion of all new residential developments with 20 or more units be set aside for people with incomes at or below the Baltimore-area median. In exchange, the county would attempt to make the requirements financially viable for developers by cutting developers’ water and sewer costs by 50% and waiving certain one-time fees for utilities.
Pittman, in the Friday email, said he’s already heard opposition from developers, who have asked the county to consider amending the zoning code to allow more development and removing environmental and adequate public facility regulations. They’ve also asked Pittman to slow down and invest in more studies of the matter before forging ahead, according to the email.
“I agree with some of what the developers are saying. We do have obstacles to housing development in our county code that have no public benefit, some of which we’ve addressed already and others we will,” Pittman said. “But if we continue to be one of the few counties in the region that allows the last of our developable land to be built out with luxury homes and apartments that half of our workforce can’t afford, our next generation will look back and say that we built an unsustainable future.”
Pittman also encouraged constituents to show up ahead of the 7 p.m. bill hearing at a rally at The People’s Park at 5:45 p.m., where housing advocates are expected to drum up support for the measure.
Johnny O says Baltimore Co. transit shortchanged
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. lamented before state transportation officials Monday that his county would receive drastically less state funding for locally operated transit lines than other Maryland counties if officials follow through with the state’s current draft transportation spending plan.
State and local lawmakers met with transportation department officials at Towson University to discuss the draft Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), a $21.2 billion list of transportation projects throughout the state over the next five years.
Olszewski, who highlighted his administration’s goals of expanding local transit like the Towson Loop to other parts of the county, asked why Baltimore County would receive less than $500,000 to operate its transit lines while Montgomery County was slated to get more than $40 million.
“We are hopeful that there will be an adjustment, finally, in the final CTP which addresses these historical disparities between investments in Baltimore County and other jurisdictions of similar size,” he said.
Olszewski expressed further frustration with delayed projects like the Dolfield Boulevard interchange in Owings Mills, but optimism for others like a proposed mixed-use, transit-oriented development at the Lutherville light rail station.
The General Assembly will vote on a final version of the CTP, which currently has a $2.1 billion shortfall, in the spring legislative session.
U.S. Senate race update
The 2024 race for the open U.S. Senate seat is shifting rapidly.
The competitive Democratic primary has narrowed to two main contenders — Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone — now that Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando bowed out of the race.
Jawando threw his support behind Alsobrooks this week at an event featuring an endorsement from Gov. Wes Moore as the main attraction. With Moore on board, Alsobrooks has sewn up support of much of the state’s Democratic political establishment.
Trone, meanwhile, found himself going back to voting sessions on Capitol Hill this week, as the U.S. House of Representatives finally elected a new speaker, Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson.
Trone, the wealthy co-founder of Total Wine & More, also unveiled endorsements from two unions: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 24 and Local 307. They represent thousands of electricians in the Baltimore region and on the Eastern Shore.
“David Trone will be a senator who fights for the real solutions that Maryland workers and families deserve,” IBEW Local 307 business manager Rodney Rice said in a statement.
Bloomberg dove into Trone’s finances this week, estimating the Total Wine & More business as being worth $2.4 billion and Trone’s personal income at least $20 million last year. Trone has used his personal wealth to finance his past races for Congress and has indicated he will do so again in this campaign, already loaning his campaign nearly $10 million.
Several other Democrats and Republicans have filed paperwork to run, but none have established significant campaigning or fundraising efforts.
Republicans woo Hispanic and Latino voters
The Maryland Republican Party has launched a Hispanic-Latino Outreach Committee to work with voters in that demographic, “a community that overwhelmingly aligns with conservative values,” according to the party.
The committee is led by Alfonso Talavera, a real estate agent who immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua. He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese, according to his biography.
“The last couple of elections have shown us that Hispanics and Latinos are trending our way as we work to reach them through more community events and common language,” the state party said in a statement. “We know this will continue because they share our values, our beliefs, and our principles.”
The state GOP says it’s working on creating additional committees to make the party “a more robust and effective organization.”
Maryland Republicans have ground to make up: They lost the governor’s mansion last year, hold no statewide offices, and have just one member in Congress, even as the state’s historically gerrymandered district maps were revised and made slightly more competitive.
Republicans are significantly outnumbered statewide in Maryland, making up less than 24% of registered voters. Democrats make up nearly 54% of the electorate, according to state registration numbers. Unaffiliated voters — those who pick no party at all — are a growing share of the electorate at 21%.
New skate park coming to Baltimore Co.
An all-concrete skate park for skateboarders, rollerbladers and BMX bikers is expected to open in Rosedale next year, Baltimore County officials said.
Baltimore County has broken ground on the $4.3 million Hazelwood Skate Park, which officials say will be the first new, all-concrete county park in nearly five decades. The “skateboarding hub” will feature a concrete bowl as its main draw, the county said.
Baltimore County Skateboard Council member Bill Felter said in a news release that the Hazelwood park, expected to open in fall 2024, “marks the first success in our effort to expand” the number of safe, modern spaces for skateboarding, roller skating, and BMX riding in the county.
It’s being built along the planned Northeast Regional Trail extension, linking it with several other recreation centers and outdoor parks. Officials are also renovating the nearby Holt Park and Center for the Arts.
It’ll be the fourth public skatepark in the county, along with those in Cockeysville, Reisterstown and Lansdowne.
Harborplace developer commands the room in Greektown
Dozens packed the ground floor Tuesday afternoon for a ribbon cutting event at the Lofts at Yard 56, a seven-floor, 225-unit apartment building situated across Eastern Avenue from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Southeast Baltimore.
The event featured an appearance from P. David Bramble, MCB Real Estate’s managing partner and front man, as well as co-managing partner Peter Pinkard, who joked about coming out of hiding for the occasion. The firm, now in charge of shepherding Harborplace into a new era after acquiring the rights to it earlier this year, has a large regional footprint that includes The Rotunda in Hampden, office and residential space in Clipper Mill and the Arundel Plaza in Glen Burnie. Also in attendance at the festive Greektown gathering were Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman; Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott; City Council President Nick Mosby; and City Councilman Zeke Cohen, who is challenging Mosby in 2024.
Cohen’s brief remarks provided an early indication into how city and state government leaders will likely coalesce around the eventual vision for the Inner Harbor.
“I remember David Bramble, a few years back when I first got elected, you coming up and saying, ‘I got this idea about this chemical site in your district.’ I said, ‘I don’t know man, that’s tough.’ But David said, ‘No, no, no, it’s going to work, trust me, trust me.’ And he laid it out, he said, ‘I need a little help with the zoning, but that’s it,’” Cohen said.
“There were some naysayers, but in front of our eyes ... this whole team took a literal chemical dumping ground and turned it into the beautiful development that we’re standing in today. This is what happens when we all work together, when we reach for greatness in our city.”
Yard 56, a three-phase project that began as early as 2013, now features a Streets Market, LA Fitness, a nail studio and a Starbucks. It formerly housed PEMCO International Corp.’s manufacturing factory, which shuttered in 2006.
A one-bedroom apartment unit at the site — a layout nicknamed the “Pemco,” according to an online listing service — was listed Tuesday afternoon at a price range of $1,565 to $1,680 per month. Josh Neiman, MCB’s vice president of multifamily development, said at Tuesday’s event that the apartment units had been drawing renters from across the state, including Clarksville, Columbia, Elkridge, Middle River and College Park.