City/county Digest


August 25, 2006

Constellation asks PSC to rush merger hearings

Constellation Energy Group asked the Public Service Commission yesterday to speed up hearings on its proposed merger with a Florida utility so that it can have a decision by the end of the year.

This month, the PSC approved a schedule that would allow for hearings in November and a decision in February, but Constellation said it wants hearings in October and a decision in December.

The proposed $11 billion merger between Constellation and FPL Group Inc. is set to expire Dec. 31, and the company said in its filing that accelerating the schedule to meet that deadline would benefit the corporations and Maryland customers.

Approval of the merger by the end of the year would allow the company to begin offering customers the $60 million a year in rate reduction that officials have promised at the same time that charges for a rate-increase deferral plan the legislature passed start appearing on their bills, the filing says.

The legislature's plan requires the company to provide $38.6 million a year regardless of the state of the merger, but the company said in its filing that it could challenge that provision in court. If the merger is approved, the issue would be moot, the filing says.

Baltimore: Investigation

Officials find source of offensive e-mail

A racially offensive e-mail forwarded through the Baltimore Police Department entered the city e-mail system by way of a state worker who is African-American, city and state officials said last night.

The e-mail was forwarded from a State Highway Administration employee to someone in Baltimore's Department of Public Works, who then forwarded it to a city police employee, according to city and state officials.

In written statements last night, officials with Public Works and the SHA condemned the e-mail and said it violated their agencies' electronic communications policies.

The e-mail came to light Wednesday when city police announced they had started an investigation after discovering the e-mail had been forwarded to a number of high-ranking officers.

The four-paragraph e-mail portrays a scene in heaven in which the angel Gabriel is complaining about blacks in heaven.

A police spokesman said it appears the e-mail, which was forwarded to a number of officers, came to the department from a public works employee, but noted that the department's investigation is continuing.

A public works spokesman said that when the department's investigation is completed, penalties for the employee might include a written reprimand or suspension.

SHA officials said the employee who initially forwarded the e-mail "indicated that he did not send the e-mail with any malicious intent, apologized for forwarding the inappropriate e-mail and acknowledges that it was a regrettable decision."


Howard Park project goes to Vanguard

Baltimore development officials announced yesterday that they have selected the team behind the heralded Waverly Giant project to redevelop a Howard Park site in Northwest Baltimore.

The development team - Vanguard Equities and ROC Inc. - plans an $11 million project, according to the Baltimore Development Corp. The plan includes a 53,000-square-foot supermarket, as well as 12,000 square feet of retail for shops and restaurants and 280 parking spaces.

Residents of the community have been eager for a supermarket to return to the site in the 4600 block of Liberty Heights Ave. A Super Pride closed there about six years ago, forcing area residents to do their food shopping in other communities.

Leonard Weinberg, a partner in Vanguard, said yesterday that he hopes construction will begin in about a year, with the supermarket opening by summer 2008. The Vanguard/ROC proposal was selected over a competing plan from KIMCO/KRC Acquisitions, BDC officials said.

Though the group has worked with Giant Food on other projects, there is not a specific supermarket chain lined up for the Howard Park location.

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