Last week's headlines

Metro area house sales drop 30% in May

prices rise

June 15, 2008

Larsen leaving as PSC chief

Steven B. Larsen, who took over the Maryland Public Service Commission with a mandate to lower utility bills, is leaving the panel before finishing a yearlong quest to reregulate the industry. He will be replaced by Douglas R.M. Nazarian, a former litigator who joined the PSC as a general counsel last June. Nazarian said he would continue the strategy set by his predecessor.

Wal-Mart to pay settlement

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $250,000 to a pharmacy technician who suffered a disability resulting from a gunshot wound and was subsequently fired from one of the company's Harford County stores, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced. Wal-Mart failed to accommodate technician Glenda Darlene Allen and then unlawfully fired her from the Abingdon store.

Area home sales plunge

Local home sales continued their plunge in May, dropping 30 percent from a year earlier as the average price ticked up modestly. It was the ninth straight month that sales fell at least 30 percent in the Baltimore metropolitan area, a downward acceleration kicked off by sharp tightening by lenders. About 2,100 homes changed hands - half as many as in May 2005, near the peak of the boom.

Tax-sale investor makes plea deal

A veteran Baltimore real estate investor could serve up to 18 months in prison for conspiring to rig bids at Maryland tax sale auctions under a plea deal that obligates him to cooperate with a continuing criminal investigation of the auctions. Steven L. Berman, in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, admitted to a single felony count of bid rigging.

GM plant going back to work

The General Motors Powertrain Baltimore Transmission Plant, shut down since April because of a strike at a GM parts supplier, will start ramping up production July 14 when it brings back 100 to 105 day-shift workers. The White Marsh plant was one of about 30 GM factories idled by a walkout at American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc., resulting in thousands of layoffs.

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