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Week in review: 7/20/12

Report: Raze Mechanic because of subway jolts

A private engineering study has found widespread corrosion in the parking garage beneath the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre due in part to stray electrical currents from subway trains, according to an Owings Mills developer who commissioned the report and has applied to demolish the 45-year-old concrete building. Howard Brown, a partner in the development team One West LLC and president of David S. Brown Enterprises, said that repairs to the decay in the parking garage could cost more than $1.1 million — and even more to shore up the theater building if a retail and residential tower were built above it as originally planned in the $200 million redevelopment.

Chief justice lets DNA collection resume

Maryland police can temporarily resume collecting DNA samples from people arrested for violent crimes, U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ruled this week. Roberts issued the stay at the request of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who said he plans to petition the Supreme Court to overturn the Maryland Court of Appeals’ April 24 holding, in King v. Maryland, that collection of DNA purposes on arrest is almost always unconstitutional.

Governor, speaker pitch casino to city delegates

Gov. Martin O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, proposed to allocate some gambling revenue in a way to help offset losses that a Prince George’s County casino could cause for Baltimore and Anne Arundel County. O’Malley, Busch and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met with about half of the city’s 18-member House delegation at City Hall for about 90 minutes behind closed doors. The proposal was made in hopes of allaying concerns Baltimore lawmakers have about how a casino at National Harbor near the nation’s capital could hurt a planned casino in Baltimore.

Alcohol tax boosts health care

Maryland health officials are highlighting $14.3 million they can use to expand community-based, long-term care for seniors and the physically disabled with the help of an increased state alcohol tax, which has been in effect for a little more than a year. The money has been set aside for the fiscal year that began this month. “We’re going to be able to bring in almost 500 people off of different waiting lists who have not been receiving community services,” said Chuck Milligan, a deputy secretary of health care financing with the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

PSC names Sands director

Merwin Sands will become the Maryland Public Service Commission’s next executive director, the PSC announced. The promotion will be effective July 25. Sands, an eight-year PSC veteran, is a member of the commission’s technical staff, serving as the director of the telecommunications, gas and water division. In this post, he has managed economists and analysts, among other duties, and reported to the executive director.

Thurmont sells land to DNR

Thurmont town officials have approved the sale of about 400 acres of land to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Mayor Martin Burns, who opposed the sale, said he questioned whether the land could be worth more than the $1.4 million offered by the state agency. State officials say the land would be added to Cunningham Falls State Park.

National groups want Md. to keep fault rule

A case pending before Maryland’s top court has attracted national attention as groups representing U.S. businesses, doctors and insurers are pressing the Court of Appeals to preserve a 165-year-old ruling that defendants cannot be held liable for damages if the plaintiffs’ own negligence contributed at all to their injuries. In a joint brief to the judges, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association and American Insurance Association last week urged the court to hold fast to its 1847 decision in Irwin v. Sprigg.

Next phase starts in Owings Mills project

The next phase of the mammoth Metro Centre at Owings Mills development started this week as ground was broken for three new buildings while construction workers labored nearby. The 45-acre multi-use, transit-oriented development located just off Interstate 795 is expected to open in phases beginning next year, said developer Howard Brown, president of David S. Brown Enterprises. It is funded with public and private resources.

Hopkins drops to No. 2 in rankings

Massachusetts General Hospital was named as the nation’s top hospital by U.S. News and World Report. MGH, which held the No. 2 spot last year, displaced Johns Hopkins Hospital at the top of the annual list. Hopkins had been at the top for 21 consecutive years.