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Best Week, Worst Week: Hopkins Hospital gets first female president; Baltimore knocked around again

The Johns Hopkins Hospital went for a familiar face in naming Redonda Miller as its new president this week, while the city of Baltimore was knocked around again by all-too-familiar issues that have plagued it for years.

Health care writer Daniel Leaderman reported Thursday that Miller, currently the senior vice president of medical affairs with Johns Hopkins Hospital, will become the first female president in its 125-year history July 1.

Miller, 49, is a familiar sight to the Hopkins community, a place she calls “home.” She first came to the university as a medical student and specialized in internal medicine during her residency. She eventually joined the hospital administration, becoming an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and went back to school part time, earning her MBA from the university’s Carey School of Business in 2004.

Her interest in large-scale health care delivery led her to the administration side of the hospital.  Current President Ronald R. Peterson said the decision to have Miller succeed him as hospital president was an easy one, citing her medical prowess, years of progressive administrative experience and the well-earned respect of senior clinical and administrative leadership.

Meanwhile, the city of Baltimore can’t seem to get out of its own way sometimes. This week, the city labored through the familiar strains of school construction money woes, failing grades for its water and more ballot-counting questions in a primary election.

On Monday, business writer Adam Bednar reported that the city was marked up for poor water quality on the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s annual Healthy Harbor Report Card. According to the report, the primary cause of the bad water rating is fecal bacteria, nitrogen pollution, low water clarity and high conductivity in streams.

The report is a major setback for the harbor, which city officials said in 2011 that it wanted to be swimmable by 2020.

(Despite residents’ inability to actively enjoy the water, it hasn’t slowed development interest along Baltimore’s waterfront. Projects such as Harbor Point and the proposed Port Covington redevelopment show there’s still demand in the city for waterfront property, even if you’re better off not getting in.)

On Wednesday, the state Board of Public Works voted to withhold $5 million in state school construction and renovation aid from the city and $10 million from Baltimore County, driven by continuing frustrations over lack of air conditioning in schools in those jurisdictions.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported that the board also voted to approve a controversial rule change allowing the board to authorize the use of state funds for portable air conditioning units — a change the state attorney general said runs afoul of the law. The actions were met with criticism from some lawmakers, and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenentz hinted at potential legal action.

Then on Thursday, the state Board of Elections ordered the city to rescind its certification of last month’s primary results, though it is still unclear if an examination of the ballots are enough to change the winners of certain races.

Election irregularities are nothing new for the city, especially when it involves a bitterly fought mayor’s race on the Democratic side. The state administrator of elections said Thursday that among some of the problems that need to be investigated were 80 unchecked provisional ballots found in a supply closet in a warehouse. State officials also said the city also failed to do other post-election checks, including comparing the number of voters who checked in at a polling place to the number who actually voted.