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Week in Review – March 18, 2011

Mediation underused

The architects of Maryland’s new foreclosure mediation law are pleased with how it has worked in the past eight months, but wish more homeowners knew about it and used it, according to testimony before a state House committee. One suggested change in the law would give homeowners 30 days to request mediation rather than the existing 15-day window.

Survey seeks residents

A local marketing firm, Carton Donofrio Partners, is asking certain employees of the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine if the would be willing to put down roots in the 88-acre area of Eastern Baltimore known as Middle East. Residents of the area also will be surveyed about their interest in housing planned there.

Rent-to-own scam alleged

The U.S. Secret Service has charged a Baltimore man with running a fraudulent rent-to-own car business that allegedly had victims paying up to $1,000 in down payments for a few weeks with no chance of ownership.

Precedent on tips

The owner of two South Baltimore taverns cannot participate in a tip pool with his fellow bartenders, a federal judge has ruled in a ground-breaking decision that could spell the end of the proprietor’s businesses.

Deutsch firms combined

GP Strategies Corp. and RWD Technologies LLC, two consulting companies founded 22 years apart by Robert W. Deutsch, will combine under a $28 million deal. GP Strategies said it expects to pay for the acquisition using cash in hand, but could borrow from its $35 million revolving credit facility.

Preakness performers

The Maryland Jockey Club hopes to increase attendance at this year’s Preakness race to around 110,000 by bringing in singer Bruno Mars and adult contemporary band Train to perform May 21. Infield tickets are $40 in advance and $50 starting May 16.

Cardin: GOP in control

Democrats have put themselves in “a horrible position” to stave off federal spending cuts proposed by Republicans in Congress, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin told The Daily Record. He expected Republicans to again threaten to shut down the government if Democrats, including President Barack Obama, don’t accept their proposals.

Bigamy costs man $469K

A Perry Hall woman has been awarded nearly $500,000 from the man who married her without being legally divorced from his first wife. The woman discovered after almost a year of marriage that the man’s divorce decree was a fake.

Perryville still short slots cash

The town of Perryville still hasn’t seen any revenue from Hollywood Casino Perryville, and Mayor James L. Eberhardt is getting a little impatient. Cecil County officials have told Eberhardt that the town must wait for the approximately $680,000 it’s owed through January because they haven’t finished deciding on how they will spend the county’s share of the money. And they won’t be done with their plan until after the General Assembly session ends April 11.

Ehrlich moving south

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is shifting his focus from the state to the nation’s capital. Ehrlich said Tuesday that he has joined King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office as senior counsel in the firm’s government advocacy and policy practice, four years after founding the Baltimore branch of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice with several members of his gubernatorial team.

Currie trial in September

After denying a postponement in State Sen. Ulysses S. Currie’s bribery trial last fall, recent developments in another high-profile criminal case forced U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett to push the powerful legislator’s trial from June to September. On Tuesday, the Baltimore judge replaced Currie’s trial with one for Thomas A. Drake, who allegedly leaked classified documents to a former Baltimore Sun reporter.

Read’s compromise

Hoping to avoid further delay in the redevelopment of downtown’s Superblock because of controversy over a landmark, Lexington Square Partners LLC said Tuesday it has agreed to preserve two exterior walls of the former Read’s Drug Store in honor of a 1955 civil rights sit-in. The action by the developer means new architectural plans are in the works for the $150 million project that has been 10 years in the making.

Five Md. banks miss TARP payment

Five Maryland institutions that took bailout money as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program missed their February dividend payments to the federal government. According to information gathered by SNL Financial, the banks are Rising Sun Bancorp, First United Corp., Cecil Bancorp Inc., Patapsco Bancorp Inc. and Harbor Bankshares.  Rising Sun has missed six TARP payments, which makes it eligible for the U.S. Treasury Department to appoint two members to the company’s board of directors.

Judge edits MontCo sign requirment

A federal judge in Greenbelt on Tuesday blocked Montgomery County from enforcing one part of a sign requirement for pro-life pregnancy counseling centers while a challenge to the law is being litigated. Under Judge Deborah K. Chasanow’s ruling, the county can require that the nonprofit centers post a sign telling clients that there is no medical provider on staff. Such a notice supports the county’s “compelling interest” in the health of the center’s clients, Chasanow said.