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Week in review: 9/21/12

Harborplace retailers changing?

An affiliate of General Growth Properties Inc. may operate Harborplace for another 75 years, but that hardly guarantees that the retailers there will enjoy the same longevity. The proposed deal between Harbor Place Associates Limited Partnership and the Baltimore Development Corp. will extend the operator’s lease through 2087 while increasing its rent by 158 percent. That financial burden could be passed along to retailers inside Harborplace’s two pavilions, but a rent increase would be hard to swallow for many store owners, who say they already pay a steep price for what’s considered prime real estate.

Del. Alston rejects deals in misconduct case

Despite a judicial tongue-lashing, Del. Tiffany T. Alston continued to reject proposed plea deals from the Maryland State Prosecutor following her June conviction for misdemeanor theft and misconduct in office, convictions that could lead to her ouster from the House of Delegates. Alston, D-Prince George’s, also faces trial next month in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on an additional charge of dipping into her campaign account to cover her wedding costs. That charge was to be resolved as part of the proposed plea deal Alston rejected Wednesday afternoon, according to her counsel.

JW Marriott opens at NYC’s Essex House

Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, announced the opening of the JW Marriott Essex House New York, the brand’s first hotel in New York City. The hotel is located on Central Park South in midtown Manhattan. Formerly the Jumeirah Essex House, the landmark hotel features 509 guestrooms and suites ranging from 300 to 2,500 square feet.

No reprieve for pit bulls at Baltimore co-op

A low-income Baltimore housing cooperative declined to voluntarily delay evicting tenants who own pit bulls after the state’s top court declared the dogs “inherently dangerous.” Armistead Home Corp. had until Wednesday to respond to Joseph Weigel’s request for a standstill agreement while his constitutional challenge proceeds in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, according to court documents.

Judge blocks disclosure for scores of officials

A federal judge in Greenbelt has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new U.S. law that requires online posting of the assets and financial holdings of about 28,000 senior Executive Branch officials, saying the act likely violates their “informational privacy” rights. In granting a temporary preliminary injunction, Judge Alexander Williams Jr. balanced the 2012 STOCK Act’s goal of discouraging financial corruption in government against the interests of U.S. Foreign Service, law enforcement, health care and national security workers in keeping their holdings from the eyes of anyone with a computer.

Howie named to head Maryland DLLR

Leonard J. Howie III, an experienced manager who has worked in high administrative capacities at several Maryland executive-branch agencies, has been appointed secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation by Gov. Martin O’Malley. He will take over the post on Oct. 8. Howie is a former DLLR deputy secretary under former secretaries Tom Perez and Alexander Sanchez, as well as a former deputy secretary for operations at the Maryland Department of Human Resources.

Maryland House murals to be preserved by state

The state of Maryland is planning to preserve a set of murals that have decorated a shuttered travel plaza near Aberdeen for more than 40 years. The pair of four-panel murals from the Maryland House on Interstate 95 will be kept in a climate-controlled fine-art storage facility because of their historic and artistic value, the Baltimore Sun reported. The murals depict significant events and people in Maryland history. They were installed in 1968. The Maryland House is being rebuilt, but a Maryland Transportation Authority spokeswoman said the murals won’t be installed th