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Week in review: January 7, 2011

Chief keeps aim on gun offenders

At a news conference Monday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III touted last year’s decrease in crime in the city and called for tougher sentences for gun offenders. He refused to answer questions about police behavior that has cost city taxpayers millions of dollars in legal settlements. According to police, there were 223 homicides in Baltimore last year, a 25-year low and a decrease of 15 from 2009.

Bernstein sworn in

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein took his oath of office Tuesday evening at a courthouse ceremony crowded with members of Congress, judges, other public officials, lawyers and friends. He reiterated his campaign promises to concentrate on repeat violent offenders and upgrade the office’s personnel and technology.

Hopkins gets $30M gift

Johns Hopkins University alumnus John C. Malone has donated $30 million to build an engineering research building on the Homewood campus in Baltimore, the school announced Monday. The donation is the largest ever made to the Whiting School of Engineering. Construction is to begin in 2012. Malone is chairman of Liberty Media Corp.

China mall design deal

Development Design Group Inc., a Baltimore architecture firm, said Monday that it has been chosen to design and plan what will be the largest shopping center in China. Terms of the deal to build the retail component of the Tianjin City Culture Center Development were not disclosed.

Exxon lawyer apologizes

Attorney James F. Sanders offered an apology Tuesday on behalf of Exxon Mobil Corp. to Jacksonville residents for a massive gasoline leak that contaminated their water supply in 2006. But Sanders also said in his opening statement in Baltimore County Circuit Court that Exxon Mobil’s cleanup efforts have been effective and that jurors should not award the plaintiffs punitive damages.

Elected judge not seated

Gov. Martin O’Malley will follow the advice of counsel and not seat Ramona Moore Baker on the Orphans’ Court of Baltimore City even though she was elected in November. The governor’s office said Tuesday that Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler had advised that seating Baker would violate the state constitution because she is not a lawyer. State voters approved a constitutional amendment that permits only attorneys to be Orphans’ Court judges in the city.

Md. handgun law upheld

Maryland’s law restricting gun possession outside the home without a permit does not conflict with recent Supreme Court rulings, the Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

UM picks football coach

The University of Maryland introduced Randy Edsall as its new football coach Monday. Edsall had been coach at the University of Connecticut. He said he knows that in addition to winning games, he must increase the fan base and make the program more visible.

Casino revenue dips

Hollywood Casino Perryville continued to lag state revenue expectations in December, generating $6.5 million during its third full month of operation. Its 1,500 slots machines averaged $140.58 in revenue.

Campaign finance changes

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released on Tuesday 25 proposed changes for Maryland’s campaign finance regulations, including closing a loophole that allows businesses to bypass donation limits by routing money through subsidiaries.