Archive for November, 2009

Will the Recession Affect Your Holiday Shopping?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Maryland’s unemployment rate is hovering at 7.3 percent, and the National Retail Federation is predicting another dip in holiday sales this year.

What are your plans for holiday shopping? Will you be cutting your gift list?

–from Maryland Newsline

Hunt Wins Hyattsville City Council Seat

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

For Timothy Hunt, the second time’s a charm.

Hunt, 36, won a Nov. 10 special election for one of the two Ward 3 council seats in Hyattsville, Md. He was sworn in six days later.

Months earlier, the stay-at-home father and treasurer of the University Hills Civic Association had lost a biennial election for the other Ward 3 seat.

In the recent election, Hunt snagged 174 votes from Ward 3 residents. Shirley Bender, 62, a retired program assistant at the National Cancer Institute and the only other candidate on the ballot, received 23 votes. There was one write-in vote.

“I just look forward to getting to work,” Hunt said, adding the work has already started. “I don’t really have any goals, other than to act as a voice for residents in Ward 3.”

He had described himself during the campaign as a pragmatist who wants to assure solid services are delivered in the city.

The Ward 3 seat was previously held by Anthony Patterson, who resigned in August to focus on his work with the Government Accountability Office and because he might be moving out of the area.

–by Maryland Newsline’s Kelly Brooks

Maryland’s Slots Commission Pressures Anne Arundel County

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Gambling in Anne Arundel County seemed so close Thursday, but yet so far away.

The Video Lottery Facility Location Commission nearly voted Thursday on a motion to approve the proposal for a casino at the Arundel Mills shopping mall without zoning approval from the Anne Arundel County Council. The council has not approved a zoning change to allow the casino at the site because of concerns by some residents about having the facility at the mall.

“We’re looking to move on our own schedule,” said Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry.

The commission appeared to be putting pressure on the county council which, in the commission’s view, has dithered on the zoning issue.

“We have gotten to the point where we’re ready to make a decision, but for the zoning,” Fry said.

But Fry conceded that a vote to approve the proposal would mean nothing if the county council did not approve zoning for the casino.

“We’d have to come back and start over,” he said. “Absolutely, we’d have to start the whole bid process over again.”

– By Capital News Service’s Christopher M. Matthews.

What Are Your Recollections of the Beltway Snipers?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Seven years ago, the “Beltway snipers” wreaked havoc on the greater Washington, D.C.-area. The shooters attacked during broad daylight in open public areas.

Were you living in the D.C. area in fall 2002? How did the random shootings affect your daily routine? Did you avoid certain places? What do you remember of that period?

Committee Recommends Creation of Voluntary Landlord Registry

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The creation of a voluntary registry of landlords willing to rent housing to people with mental illnesses who may also have criminal backgrounds was approved for recommendation to the General Assembly at a work session of the Joint Committee on Access to Mental Health Services Tuesday.

For people with mental illnesses, finding housing sometimes is about more than affordability. A second stumbling block occurs when landlords aren’t willing to rent to people with criminal records, said Lori Doyle, director of public policy at the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

A lot of the individuals with mental illness who are served by the agencies that make up the Community Behavioral Health Association have a criminal background, said Doyle.

But even if the criminal record involves something minor that occurred years ago, it can be the basis for a denial of housing, and more and more landlords are doing background checks and becoming more stringent about who they accept as tenants, Doyle said.

Providers of mental health services currently use informal methods of finding housing, such as keeping lists of places where they’ve previously had success placing people, she said. Because tenants are supported by providers, who develop relationships with landlords, the results of such relationships are often positive.

“It’s just getting in the door,” Doyle said.

A state registry would be a valuable resource to providers and those they serve by making it easier to find suitable housing, “rather than having to knock on 20 doors” trying to find landlords who are open to working with them, Doyle said.

- By Capital News Service’s Megan E. Gustafson.