One of Gov. Wes Moore’s signature initiatives, a community service program for young adults, is getting up and running.

The state launched a website for people who want to apply for the new Service Year Option, for those ages 18 to 21, or Maryland Corps for adults of any age.

Participants will be placed in service-oriented positions and paid at least $15 per hour. After completing the program, they’ll receive $6,000 for tuition or in a cash stipend.

The state is also soliciting nonprofits, businesses and government agencies to host and mentor program participants.

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Applications are posted online and are due Sept. 1.

Moore has made public service a theme of his initial months in office, creating a new state Department of Service and Civic Innovation and sponsoring legislation to create the Service Year Option.

“At a time when civic bonds are frayed, where many feel more disconnected from their neighbors than ever before, service is the antidote to the epidemic of loneliness and otherness,” Moore said during his first State of the State address in February. “Service is how we re-engage our people in the project of forming a more perfect state.”

A month out from Artscape, city staffers say everything is peachy

Officials from the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and senior aides to Mayor Brandon Scott told the City Council this week that the best Artscape yet is just a month away.

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BOPA interim CEO Todd Yuhanick told members of the Ways and Means Committee at a hearing about preparations for the arts festival that more than 1,100 vendors applied to be part of the weekend.

“The demand is there,” he said. “And that’s what real cities do — we can throw world-class events. Artscape is back.”

Yuhanick and Tonya Miller Hall, a senior arts adviser to Scott, told council members that Artscape staffers have worked with institutions near the Mount Vernon festival to ensure a smooth weekend. The Lyric, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other organizations previously wrote a letter to City Hall expressing concerns that several major events falling on the same weekend as Artscape — including the BSO’s annual charity gala and parents weekend at Maryland Institute College of Art — would cause major foot and traffic congestion in the area.

Scott’s chief of staff, Marvin James, told the council that the administration met with Councilman Eric Costello and the institutions last month to discuss logistics. “This is the archetype of how we should be working collaboratively,” he said, noting that the next meeting of the stakeholders is Sept. 3.

Artscape is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 22. Kelly Rowland will headline the arts festival, which will return after three years of cancellations and several public controversies for BOPA, including a leadership change. Costello, a fierce critic of BOPA’s previous CEO, praised Yuhanick and Miller Hall, saying the pair have “scrambled to get this festival on the right track.”

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Another Alsobrooks endorsement

And it’s another one for Angela Alsobrooks.

The Prince George’s County executive, who is running for the U.S. Senate, landed an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen this week.

The two appeared together Tuesday in Silver Spring, where Van Hollen said that in “a field of very strong candidates,” Alsobrooks is a standout for her “amazing record of leadership.”

Van Hollen said Alsobrooks would be a “partner in progress” if she’s elected to join him in the Senate.

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Alsobrooks is now up to nearly 100 political endorsements of her campaign. Asked what that means to voters, Alsobrooks said the endorsements show that she has a record of experience and leadership built up over years.

“But it also says that our support is broad-based,” Alsobrooks said. “We also have grassroots support as well. It is not just the elected leaders who support me.” She pointed out the couple of dozen supporters in green campaign T-shirts standing behind her.

The other Democratic front-runners are U.S. Rep. David Trone and Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando. Though some Republicans have filed to run, none are well known to voters.

The primary is May 14, 2024.

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A labor endorsement for Zeke Cohen, the first of 2024

Zeke Cohen received the first labor endorsement in a City Hall race this week, after a union that represents service workers named the Democrat as their pick for City Council president.

Tracy Lingo, the president of UNITE HERE 7, which represents 2,000 local hotel, gaming, and restaurant workers, said Cohen has stood alongside members on the front lines.

“Zeke has the courage to back working people in our struggles, the creativity to find solutions that improve the lives of Baltimoreans, and most importantly, he brings people together to make those solutions a reality,” she said in a statement.

Cohen, a Democrat who has represented South Baltimore’s 1st Council District since 2016, is running to represent the entirety of Baltimore as City Council president. He faces incumbent Nick Mosby, who entered the office in 2020. Former City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed is mulling a run for the seat.

“Labor embracing our campaign is really reaffirming that Baltimore deserves better and is looking for leadership,” Cohen said.

Councilman Eric Costello endorsed Mosby at a fundraiser in Harbor East last week, telling a room full of donors that they should throw their support behind him.

The Maryland primary will be held on May 14. In deep-blue Baltimore, winning in the spring nearly guarantees a win in November.

Moore names top tech officials

Gov. Wes Moore and state Information Technology Secretary Katie Savage have named top tech administrators for the state, including the first-ever adviser on artificial intelligence.

Nishant Shah, as senior adviser for responsible artificial intelligence, will oversee the state’s strategy on IT, including “development of ethical guidelines, business pilots, and coordination with federal leadership.”

Other members of the team include Michele Thomas as chief technology officer; Greg Rogers as chief information security officer, Marcy Jacobs as chief digital experience officer and Andrew Drummond as director of accessibility.

Most of these positions are new and represent an effort from the Department of Information Technology — known in government by its acronym DoIT, pronounced “do it” — to modernize the agency and do a better job providing government services.

“We have assembled a team that will bring the department up to speed and into the future,” Savage said in a statement.

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