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Week in review: 10/12/12

Two studies, two conclusions

Up to $1.6 billion in Maryland money has been spent at a West Virginia casino in the last decade, according to a study paid for by proponents of expanding gambling in the Free State, making it vital that voters approve table games and a sixth casino. But an independent study by the Maryland Public Policy Institute questions the fiscal sense of the expansion bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in August. The first study, by Sage Policy Group Inc., estimates that Penn National Gaming Inc.’s Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., would capture between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion more from Maryland residents in the next 10 years unless Question 7 is approved in November’s election. But according to the Maryland Public Policy Institute study, the potential expansion is more of a jackpot for casino companies than for the state.

Assembly counsel says Del. Alston suspended

Del. Tiffany Alston, who reached a plea agreement with the state prosecutor this week, was automatically suspended from office without pay when a judge sentenced her, the legal counsel to the Maryland General Assembly concluded in a legal opinion. Dan Friedman responded to a request from House Speaker Michael Busch, who asked for legal advice regarding Alston’s status. However, Friedman’s letter includes a footnote stating that he has provided the advice without addressing other potential ramifications of Alston’s criminal case. An attorney for Alston, Rauof Abdullah, said he disagrees with the opinion.

Washington Metro unveils new subway cars

The Washington Metro unveiled its new mock-up subway car this week. The new design has a stainless steel exterior, soothing blue seats and some helpful electronics: panels that display the names of the stops the train is approaching. Gone are the carpeted floors. Gone are the original orange and brown seats and the updated blue and maroon ones. Gone is the classic brown stripe running down the car’s exterior. The first of the more than 350 new cars are expected to go into service in 2014. They will ultimately replace the oldest cars in the system, which have been running since it opened in 1976.

Ex-police recruit suing Baltimore County for $500K

A former Baltimore County police recruit is suing the county for $500,000 in punitive damages, claiming it refused to let him resume training after an appendicitis attack because he is black and homosexual. Isaiah M. Negron, a Baltimore County resident, also accuses the county of false imprisonment for allegedly forcing him to stay at a physical-training session at the Baltimore County Police Academy for roughly two hours while suffering the appendicitis attack on July 19, 2010.

Beilenson leaving Howard as county health officer

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced that Dr. Peter Beilenson is stepping down as the county’s health officer. Beilenson, who was Baltimore City Health Commissioner for 13 years, has served as Howard County Health Officer for the past 5½ years. He is leaving the post to become CEO of the Evergreen Health Cooperative. Beilenson received a $65 million loan last month under the federal health reform law to start Evergreen, a consumer-owned nonprofit that will compete against private insurers to sell health policies to low- and moderate-income consumers. Ulman will nominate Dr. Maura Rossman, who has been deputy health officer of clinical services, to replace Beilenson. Rossman is now the county’s acting health officer.

Maryland won’t seek death penalty for Lopez

Maryland prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty against a man charged with killing his estranged wife and her 11-year-old son, a defense lawyer said in court. Stefanie McCardle, a state public defender representing Curtis M. Lopez, revealed the decision this week during a pretrial hearing aimed at resolving disputes over evidence and witness testimony. A spokesman for the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office confirmed that the death penalty was no longer an option. Lopez, an ex-convict who spent more than a decade in prison, is charged with killing Jane McQuain inside her Germantown apartment last October and fatally beating her son, William, with a baseball bat.

Daily Record editor to retire at end of year

Tom Linthicum will retire as executive editor and vice president of The Daily Record at the end of the year. Linthicum, 64, joined the company as executive editor on Oct. 2, 2006, and was named vice president a year later. Linthicum and his wife, Dorothy, an instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., will spend next year teaching at the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown, South Africa.