MARC bids closed until Board of Public Works

State procurement law prevents the Maryland Transit Administration from disclosing proposal details, dollar figures or any other facets of bids to run a pair of MARC lines now operated by CSX Transportation Inc.

There’s no timetable set by MTA to get the deal to the Board of Public Works, where members of the public — come on, I know you’re all interested — will be able to see who wins as well as who else was in the running.

According to the state code — section 21.06.01.02 — “Before a procurement officer makes a recommendation for award of the contract, a procurement officer may not disclose the name of any person who has submitted a proposal.”

That may take awhile. The board approved a two-year, $118 million extension for CSX in June 2010, but CSX wants out of that business. Later that summer, the Department of Transportation decided to start the bidding process over and only received bids Monday.

DBED delegation larger on Maryland trade mission to India

The Department of Business and Economic Development will foot the bill for at least a dozen state employees on the governor’s upcoming trade mission to India.

DBED covered expenses for five when Gov. Martin O’Malley made a trade mission to China, South Korea and Vietnam in June. The delegation for that trip was smaller, however — 68 business leaders, educators and public officials compared to the more than 100 on board for India. The India trip will be shorter, six days as opposed to 10.

On the upcoming trip, DBED will cover expenses, meals, hotel and incidentals¬†for O’Malley, first lady and District Court Judge Katie O’Malley and two aides — Rick Abbruzzese and Sam Clark. DBED staff on the trip will include Secretary Christian Johansson, Assistant Secretary Bob Walker, Office of International Trade Director Signe Pringle and Judy Britz, executive director of the Maryland Biotechnology Center.

DBED will also pay for the state’s India representative, Sanjiv Khanna, to make the trip as well as some expenses that will eventually be reimbursed for three members of the Secretary of State’s office. They are Secretary John McDonough, Deputy Secretary Rajan Natarajan and Director of International Affairs Mendy Nitsch.

The department has not released a cost estimate. The state only released details from the Asia trip after O’Malley returned and the receipts were totaled.

DBED spokeswoman Karen Glenn Hood said the state could use a federal grant to cover part of the cost of the trip. The U.S. Small Business Administration gave the state $585,000 in September to help increase exports from small Maryland businesses.

More on the Harrah’s Baltimore proposal

Part of what drew Caesars Entertainment Corp. to Baltimore is their customers. Many of them are already here.

The company’s “Total Rewards” loyalty program has more than 40 million members. About 1 million are in the Baltimore area.

Caesars president, CEO and chairman Gary Loveman said that familiarity with the brand — Caesars owns casinos under the Harrah’s, Caesars, Horseshoe and several other flags — would give Harrah’s Baltimore a foothold. It would also, Loveman said, allow the casino to use deals to lure Total Rewards members from other parts of the country to Baltimore.

Caesars wants the “VIP customer,” Loveman said.

“In every American market, we want to be home to the VIP customer,” he said. “It will be our strategy that we will have a higher proportion of VIP customers” than other casinos in the area.

The view in the rendering above shows one of two entrances, this one at the corner of Russell and Bayard streets. This is roughly the view you would get driving north on Russell toward downtown.

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Blueprint Maryland’s Delaney exploring congressional run

John Delaney, the Montgomery County businessman behind Blueprint Maryland, is considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the freshly redrawn 6th Congressional District.

Blueprint is Delaney’s roadmap to move Maryland beyond its dependence on federal largess.

“Old Maryland was about government jobs,” the Blueprint draft report states, “but the new Maryland’s job opportunities are still in question.”

Delaney has formed an exploratory committee to look into the congressional run and, not surprisingly, job creation is at the top of his would-be to do list.

“I’m convinced that if we stay focused on creating jobs, embrace ideas that put the middle class first and involve the public and private sector to get things done, we can make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Delaney said in a statement announcing his interest Monday. “The level of unemployed and underemployed in this country is tragic and is, by almost any measure, the most important issue of the day.”

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Ulman: Broadband will set Maryland apart

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman traveled to Palo Alto., Calif., last month to speak with tech industry executives and venture capitalists and came back confident Maryland has something special to offer.

He said this week at the Maryland Municipal League conference that no other area has the type of fiber-optic broadband network now being installed around the state.

“This is the only place where you can get 2,000 schools on one network,” Ulman said.

Using a $115 million stimulus grant, the state is installing 1,300 miles of fiber that will connect schools, police stations, libraries, community colleges, hospitals and other anchor institutions. The project will save governments money on IT costs, said Ulman, who is overseeing the effort in Central Maryland.

But Ulman said the network will also be a sort of testing ground for developers of applications for government agencies. They will be able to tap into the network and be connected to dozens or even hundreds of potential customers.

“We think this is another piece that will lure app developers to Maryland, a real economic development opportunity,” he said.

Engineering on the project is underway in every jurisdiction in the state, and actual construction is happening in Anne Arundel, Baltimore Howard and Prince George’s counties, as well as Baltimore City.

The project faces a August 2013 due date, or the feds get their unspent dollars back.