Zeke Cohen described a testy interaction when he asked Fitzgerald on Tuesday

But a third council member — Zeke Cohen — announced Wednesday that he would not be able to vote in favor of Fitzgerald unless he can review the background investigation report.

Cohen described a testy interaction when he asked Fitzgerald on Tuesday to share the file.

Cohen said Fitzgerald told him to submit a Freedom of Information Act request for any material that is publicly available and expressed frustration that the process in Baltimore was “more intensive than he had experienced before.”

“Baltimore is a tough town and anyone who wants to lead the police department needs to understand that our city is at a moment where people are demanding transparency and engagement,” Cohen said.

“He didn’t seem angry. He just seemed a little frustrated that I was asking for what I think he perceived to be personal information.”

Read More

Baltimore leaders band together as anti-Semitism surges

The murder of 11 Jews in a synagogue on the Sabbath is the devastating consequence of our decaying national discourse. Hate speech is wielded by profiteers and politicians whose goal is to divide, devalue and dehumanize. They conjure mythical hordes of black, brown and Middle Eastern “barbarians” invading our southern border. The dog-whistle has become a bullhorn. And people like the Pittsburgh shooter are listening.

Read More

Complete Streets, lobbying transparency, diaper-changing station bills set for City Council votes tonight

The council is also set to issue a final vote on a bill from Councilman Zeke Cohen (D-District 1) to set more stringent transparency rules for lobbyists in city government. The legislation requires them to file disclosure reports twice a year (it was originally four times per year, but that mark was cut in half at an August hearing) and the city’s ethics board to post all reports online within 30 days. Lobbyists who violate the rule would face a three-year ban.

Read More

Tighter Rules for Lobbyists

The Transparency in Lobbying Act (18-0230) was ratified on third and final reader tonight.

The bill aims to make it easier to identify what parties are lobbying City Hall officials. It also requires lobbyists to file reports of their activities twice a year rather than annually.

The Baltimore Ethics Board is required to post those reports online within 30 days, with the first reports due on or before June 1, 2019, and to potentially ban violators from lobbying in the city for three years.

At an earlier work session, bill sponsor Zeke Cohen fended off an amendment that would have expanded the definition of a lobbyist to include community activists.

Read More

Councilman Cohen: “We can show that at the local level, we are listening to the citizen we serve, and not just those that can afford to hire a lawyer or a lobbyist,”

Introduced by 1st District Councilman Zeke Cohen, the bill would also require reports to be available to the public online within 30 days.

Bill 18-0230 would “place Baltimore on the national forefront of lobbying reform,” Cohen said, addressing an audience dominated by activists who advocate for low-income workers, the homeless, students, black women, water affordability and other causes.

“We can show that at the local level, we are listening to the citizen we serve, and not just those that can afford to hire a lawyer or a lobbyist,” Cohen said.

Read More

Pushing for more transparency in Baltimore government

On Tuesday, Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen was sponsoring the Transparency in Lobbying Act to the City Council. 

"What this legislation will do is make it easier for the public to know what's going on inside the halls of city hall," explained Cohen. "Specifically, it would create an online database where lobbyists would report when they have been meeting with legislators, it would create a harsher penalty for lobbyists who violate the ethics code, and it would force lobbyists to affirmatively disclose who they are and who they represent."

Read More