Ivanka Trump in Charm City, water bills on the rise, accusations continue for Hoffman and Weinstein

Ivanka Trump attends an event in Washington, D.C., on Apr. 4, 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ivanka Trump spotted in Baltimore

Jmore columnist Michael Olesker was at Baltimore’s Penn Station Friday night waiting for his wife to arrive when he spotted the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.  After confirming it was, indeed, Trump, Olesker wrote an open letter asking what she might have been doing in town:

  • Did you come here because you heard the Chanukah shopping was better in Pikesville than Manhattan?
  • Did you come because you heard Baltimore is the nation’s true seat of power, and you wanted some leadership tips from Catherine Pugh and Kevin Kamenetz?
  • Did you stop to see the Christmas lights on 34th Street in Hampden?

Nope, probably not the last one, since you’ve become famously Jewish since your marriage to Jared Kushner. Jared wasn’t with you Friday evening, presumably because, as everyone knows, he’s been busy bringing peace to the Middle East. So there you were, Ivanka, on a Friday night in the middle of Chanukah with your children who knows where? As the Jerusalem Post reported earlier this year, “As a rule, the immediate tribe has Shabbat dinner together every Friday. Jared and Ivanka log off for the night wherever they may be – in New York, at the family home in New Jersey, or in Washington.” All of which leaves me with only one final question: Ivanka, Ivanka — what were you doing traveling on Shabbat?

Read the letter here: An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump

The high price of water

Baltimore Fishbowl is reporting that Baltimore’s ongoing water and sewer rate hikes are fast becoming too expensive for most of the city, according to a new report by an independent economist. The city needs money to pay for federally mandated fixes to its ancient sewer system, so it’s implemented a system of raising rates by about 10 percent for water and 9 percent for sewer from 2016 through at least 2019. Unfortunately, the math isn’t that simple for most household budgets, argues Roger Colton. The Boston-based economist found by analyzing the city’s census tracts that water unaffordability — already a problem for a third of households under international standards before the rate hikes took effect – has been exacerbated to a point where it’s depriving the city of revenue simply because many can no longer afford their bills. At median income levels relative to a resident’s neighborhood, two-thirds of the city was able to afford water and sewer bills in 2016. By 2019, that share will drop to “more than half,” Colton wrote – and that doesn’t even include those who make far below median income. This poses a major problem, since around one in four Baltimoreans lives at or below the poverty line. Those people already couldn’t pay their bills, and will be even less able as rates keep rising, which translates to even more missed revenue. In this process, those residents who don’t pay will have their water shut off and, at worst, have their homes sold at tax lien sales. The Baltimore City Department of Public Works is exploring ways to improve affordability within the current rate structure, said spokesman Jeffrey Raymond in an email.

Read more: Water Bills Will Soon be Too Expensive for More than Half of Baltimore Households, Report Says

Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the AIPAC 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., March 26, 2017. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

V.P. Mike Pence delays Israel trip…again

Vice President Mike Pence again has delayed a trip to Israel. Pence’s spokeswoman, Alyssah Farah, said Monday that the trip would now take place in January. She said the delay was so the Trump administration could preside over a much-anticipated tax overhaul favored by Trump. Pence might be needed to cast the deciding vote in the closely divided Senate. “The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans,” she said in a statement. “The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. The Vice President looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January.” Pence originally was slated to travel over the weekend, and then delayed the trip until the middle of this week, citing the tax vote. A White House official told JTA that would delay Pence’s travel until Wednesday, which would push meetings in Israel into Shabbat and Christmas. The official said Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s top negotiator, would continue as scheduled to the region this week. Pence would get to the region by mid-January, the official said. It’s not clear yet when the tax vote will take place, although some reports say it will be scheduled as early as Tuesday. The trip originally meant to encompass Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian areas was also circumscribed because Palestinian leaders refused to meet with Pence in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. —JTA

More Dustin Hoffman accusations

Three women who accuse Dustin Hoffman of inappropriate sexual behavior recounted being star-struck when they met the celebrated actor — and then stunned by Hoffman’s advances toward them. Two were underage when the alleged sexual misconduct happened. The third says she was subject to night after night of inappropriate touching during months on Broadway with him. “It eroded my self-confidence and my dignity,” Kathryn Rossetter, who co-starred with Hoffman in the Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman” and the subsequent TV movie version, told NBC News on Monday. “It was humiliating and demeaning. … He robbed me of the joy of that experience.” Rossetter is one of several women who recently came forward with decades-old allegations against Hoffman. A lawyer for Hoffman did not respond to requests for comment and his publicist declined comment for the below article. Hoffman, now 80, said in a statement last month that he’s sorry for “anything that I might have done” and said, “It is not reflective of who I am.”

Read: Dustin Hoffman accusers speak out: Actor ‘eroded my self-confidence and my dignity’

Producer Harvey Weinstein

Producer Harvey Weinstein attends the Simon Wiesenthal Center 2015 National Tribute Dinner on March 24, 2015. (Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

The continuing Weinstein scandal

Meryl Streep is firing back after Rose McGowan criticized her response to the Harvey Weinstein allegations, according to People. On Saturday, McGowan, who claims Weinstein assaulted her in the past, called out the Oscar winner on Twitter, writing that Streep continued to work with the disgraced producer for years despite his bad reputation. “The Scream” actress also slammed a proposed plan to protest sexual misconduct in Hollywood by wearing black to the Golden Globes, sarcastically suggesting the women instead wear dresses by Marchesa, the fashion label founded by Weinstein’s estranged wife, Georgina Chapman. (McGowan has since apologized for suggesting the women wear Marchesa dresses, tweeting that the comment “was beneath” her.) “It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein’s crimes, not in the ‘90s when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others,” Streep said in a statement Monday.

Read more: Meryl Streep Fires Back After Rose McGowan Calls Her Protest of Harvey Weinstein Hypocritical


Baltimore Farmers’ Market wants more

Last weekend was the last of the season for the Baltimore Farmers’ Market, but organizers are already making plans for next year. The Baltimore Farmers’ Market is accepting applications as the city looks to add more vendors for the 2018 season, according to WJZ. The Farmers’ Market has been a staple in Baltimore for four decades. Baltimore city officials say more than 120 vendors sold food and showcased crafts at the location under I-83, and a majority of the items were made in the state. What kind of vendors would you like to see the market add?

Read: Baltimore Farmers’ Market Looking To Add More Vendors For 2018 Season

Go to Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts for a vendor application.

J-Word of the Day
P’sak (Hebrew)
Meaning: Judgment or opinion
Usage: “His p’sak is that we should sell the business and divide the profits right down the middle.”

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