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By Kate Leventhal | Posted 3/7/2007

On The Council Agenda Feb. 26

Resolution 07-0261R In Support of State Legislation--Senate Bill 632--Maryland Gang Prosecution Act of 2007 To support state legislation that would prohibit a person from participating in a gang if they know that the gang has a criminal history. It would also make it a criminal offense to assist in an illegal activity in association with a criminal gang.

Public Interest Grade: D We'll be the first to say that the state needs to crack down on gang activity, but to prohibit a person from participating in a gang that has a criminal history? Like it or not, it's legal in this country to join disreputable organizations--such as a criminal gang or the Ku Klux Klan--and you can't be punished for it unless you actually commit a crime. Nobody likes gang violence, but we can't trample on civil liberties to bring it to an end.

Bill 07-0608 Fire and Police Employee's Retirement System--Fallen Heroes Would modify the line-of-duty death benefit process, which currently requires that a committee meet and review the compensation for the family of a fire or police employee killed while working. Under this bill, the meetings would be bypassed.

Public Interest Grade: C The sponsors of this bill were spurred to introduce it by the death of Baltimore City Fire Department cadet Rachael Wilson, who was killed during a training drill in February. As painful as it may be for families to wait for compensation while a committee reviews the death benefits of a family member killed in the line of duty, the process helps prevent abuse. It might be better to streamline the committee meetings, rather than eliminate them entirely.

Bill 07-0610 Historical and Architectural Preservation--Interior Protections To extend certain historical and architectural preservation procedures and protections to apply to the interiors of buildings.

Public Interest Grade: A While the structures of historic buildings throughout the city are protected from destruction through preservation laws, the interiors of those buildings are not. Councilman Jim Kraft (D-1st District) posed this thought: What would the Peabody Institute be without the library, and what would the Senator Theatre be without the movie screen? Good--and rather timely--question.

City Council Quote of the Week

"Maybe it will keep them busy. They won't have to write so many tickets." --Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th) on an investigation into authorizing city transportation officers to cite citizens for prohibited activities such as illegal dumping in addition to parking violations.

City Council Fact of the Week

The City Council is beginning an investigation that will look into making it legal once again to drive mopeds and scooters, including Vespas, in the city. These vehicles were banned from city streets in 2000. This bill also would clarify the language of laws prohibiting other kinds of restricted vehicles, including dirt bikes and off-road vehicles.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Mar. 12 at 5 p.m. To view the City Council's meeting schedule visit www.baltimorecitycouncil.com.

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