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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 5/14/2008

On the Agenda for May 5

08-0118 Confiscated Assets for Neighborhoods Allows the money seized from drug dealers to fund neighborhood groups and projects.

The Story: When city police arrest drug dealers and seize assets, the money goes into one of two pots. Seizures worth more than $2,000 go into a federal government program that in turn funds law-enforcement activities. Seizures of cash and prizes worth less than $2,000 go, after the court case is over, to the city's general fund. It is this second pot of money--some $200,000 per year, according to police spokesman Sterling Clifford--that this bill addresses. Under 4th District Councilman Bill Henry's plan, neighborhood groups could compete for the money, which would be doled out by the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. The city's boodle would be divided according to police districts, with asset seizures in each district being returned to neighborhood groups within those districts.

08-0119--Trans Fats--Exemption for Retail Bakeries Would exempt certain bakeries from the newly-passed ban on trans fats

The Story: Here's the exchange between bill sponsor James Kraft (1st District) and Councilwoman Agnes Welch (9th District), who shepherded the trans fats ban through the council last month: "When we passed this legislation one of the things we didn't look at is how this is going to affect the local neighborhood bakery," Kraft says, citing Hoehn's Bakery in Highlandtown, which apparently would have trouble complying with the new ordinance and "has been here for 81 years. I know there were arguments made, trans fats are trans fats. But we have to [consider] the little guys and the little gals." Responds Welch: "We want to save our children's health. Although we don't want to be anti-bakery, or anti-business . . . it's about health. Bakeries never came to us. They never came to the hearings. I would like to save bakeries, but number one, I would like to save the children."

Update: 08-0011, 08-0013--Land Sales (Councilmania, Feb. 6) The council agreed to sell more than 150 acres of unused land adjacent to the Pennington Avenue Landfill, located both in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, to a developer that plans to build 200 townhouses. The parcels include a 61-acre piece that was illegally used as a landfill, which will be capped and turned into a bird sanctuary, and a 98-acre piece, part of which is zoned for housing and part for industrial use. "We are receiving fair-market value, net of what it will take for remediation," 8th District City Councilwoman Helen Holton says, although the sale price is not available in public documents City Paper reviewed. 12th District Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young voted "no" on these deals. "We don't know really what the fair-market value is," he says by phone after the meeting. "We can hold that land for future use." He suggests the city could have leased the land to the developer, Glen Abbey LLC, which plans an additional 1,347 residential units on the adjacent land, according to the city's real estate office.

City Council Quote of the Week

"It would be a lot easier to carry water for this administration if the water fountains actually worked." --Councilman Bill Henry, asking for some money from a city building-repair fund to repair City Hall drinking fountains.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for May 19 at 5 p.m.

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Mortgage broker goes bankrupt, seeks mortgage modification as taxpayers face mounting bailout bills

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