Stadium Authority Hire Assailed

Outside Counsel Was Given No-Bid Contract

Top state lawyers believe the Maryland Stadium Authority improperly paid more than $100,000 to a Baltimore lawyer and close ally of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s to prepare a possible lawsuit against Major League Baseball to block the arrival of the Washington Nationals.

Officials at the Maryland attorney general's office said the no-bid contract did not follow state procurement law. Ehrlich (R), who said he was consulted about the hire, defended the decision as consistent with past practices.

Ivey Seeks Higher Penalty in Gun Cases

First-Time Offenders Could Face Jail Terms

Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey is launching an effort to crack down on first-time gun offenders to stem the rising level of gun violence in the county.

Ivey (D) directed his prosecutors to start seeking a jail term of one year for anyone convicted of a handgun violation, even if the defendant had no prior conviction or wasn't committing a violent crime at the time.

Montgomery's Rental Units Dwindling

Conversions Raise Affordable Housing Worries

More than 10 percent of Montgomery County's 70,000 rental apartments could be converted to condominiums within five years, officials project, a trend that could displace residents and worsen a shortage of affordable housing.

That would mirror a trend across the Washington region, where 14,500 apartments became condominiums last year, according to Delta Associates, a real estate consulting firm.

Ehrlich Asked to Restore Medicaid Cuts

Schaefer Seeks Funding for Immigrant Care

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) is facing pressure to restore state money for immigrant health care, including a plea from a frequent ally, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D).

Schaefer, who has a close working relationship with Ehrlich, said in an interview that he is a "strong advocate" of restoring money that Ehrlich cut for Medicaid coverage for new immigrants and pregnant women in Maryland.

Racetrack Owners Revise Cutbacks

Plan Slightly Increases Number of Race Days

The owners of Maryland's two largest horse tracks will present the state's racing commission with revised plans aimed at drastically scaling back the sport, which they characterized as a desperate attempt to stay financially viable without slot machines.

Magna Entertainment Corp. has adjusted its proposal to cut back live racing in the state, but only slightly, telling the commission in a letter that the most it can support is 129 days, down from the 196 racing days at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park last year.

Developer Cited in Site Plan Violations

Clarksburg Residents, Builders' Attorneys Battle

A Montgomery County Planning Board hearing on problems at Clarksburg Town Center unraveled into a bitter confrontation between residents and attorneys for the developer, including accusations of missing documents, late-night e-mails and builders flouting the law.

The board found that the developer, Newland Communities, had violated site plans approved by the county by failing to provide tennis courts, pools, bike paths and other recreational amenities as promised. But the board delayed a vote on accusations that Newland failed to build moderately priced housing units as required by the county.

Making Strides Ashburton Elementary students in Bethesda observe International Walk to School Day.