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Week in review: 10/21/11

Redistricting plan approved

Gov. Martin O’Malley signed his congressional redistricting plan Thursday, shortly after the state Senate took a final vote to correct typographical errors in the bill. The Senate first approved the plan Tuesday, and the House of Delegates approved it Wednesday. Democrats said the new map reflects necessary demographic changes, while Republicans contended it favors party politics over the public.

Hoyer calls Currie honest

In U.S. District Court on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer portrayed state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie, his friend of 30 years, as a man whose integrity and compassion far outweigh his organizational skills and attention to detail. Currie is on trial, accused of illegally using his office to benefit Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp., which paid him $245,816.

Jobless tax rate stays up

Unemployment insurance tax rates will remain at the highest possible level in 2012, leaving Maryland businesses with bills between $187 and $1,147.50 per employee, according to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Higher gas tax considered

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Monday that he is considering a 15-cent gas tax increase as part of a package of proposals to raise funding for infrastructure, streamline regulations and cut into Maryland’s unemployment rate.

EBDI work criticized

Residents of Middle East say demolition has started at the site of a new school before all city permits have been issued and all rodent and air quality monitors have been put into place, but the top executive of East Baltimore Development Inc. said Wednesday that no demolition has taken place.

Hospital sued for fraud

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is claiming that Kernan Hospital in Baltimore fraudulently rang up $1.6 million in billings to Medicare and other health programs by falsely diagnosing people with life-threatening cases of malnutrition.

Lowe’s drops from project

Developers for Baltimore’s 25th Street Station in Remington are seeking a new anchor tenant after the withdrawal of home improvements chain Lowe’s from the project. A developer’s attorney criticized opponents of the project for filing lawsuits against it. The attorney said Wal-Mart remains committed to the project.

$2.4M awarded to abused teen

A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury returned a verdict Wednesday in favor of a teen who said he had been molested by a city teacher who was also his Amateur Athletic Union track coach. The $2.4 million award consists of $1.8 million against the mentor, Bryant Newmuis, and $600,000 against the Freddie Hendricks Track Club, neither of whom appeared in court.

Police sued over Taser use

A 66-year-old Baltimore man filed suit Monday against two police officers, saying one of them used a stun gun on him twice without cause after responding to a domestic dispute at his home. The complaint, which seeks more than $7.5 million, says the man required a hospital stay afterward.

Bedbug suits packs $40k bite

A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury awarded a woman $40,000 in her negligence suit against the owners and operators of Hunting Hills apartments, where, she said, it took 48 days to get her bedbug-infested apartment fumigated.

Computer security doubted

Personal information about licenses and unemployment — including names, addresses, birth dates, and credit card and Social Security numbers — was left relatively unguarded on computers at the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and may have been targeted for fraud, according to legislative auditors.