Monday, December 10, 2007

We're moving!

On the Record has evolved.

We've got a new home at WordPress; we hope you'll stop by. The new site has a much cleaner look and some cool new features. It'll also help us grow our web offerings in the months ahead.

We have a new feed, so make sure to change your feed subscription if you read us by RSS.

If you don't - try it! Then you can keep up with us even more easily.

Not to worry - our archives will still be accessible on our new Web page.

All the best,

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Law blog round-up

Here's an instructive anecdote about two lawyers talking capital gains and child support over coffee. The upshot: judges must consider recent capital gains in any requested recalculation of child support but are not required to then factor them into a revised support amount.

A bit about blog law on a law blog: The Volokh Conspiracy speculates about the differing levels of protection various media may have against charges that they - Canada's McClean's magazine, in this case - are publishing hate speech.

Today from the Supreme Court: Below-guidelines sentencing is OK in certain cases. Most notably for cities like Baltimore, judges can consider the disparity in prescribed punishment for crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine crimes.

-BRENDAN KEARNEY, Legal Affairs Writer

Quoth the Ravens: Never more … is football a club just for men

I used to hate football. I used to loathe Sundays when the television was commandeered for hours on end of what appeared to be mere chest-thumping male chauvinism.

Then, one day, I decided to stop ignoring it and to start asking questions. And as it turns out, men really love to talk about football.

What does it mean to be “2nd and 2”?
Do you need both feet in for a catch to count?
What is a safety?
Why did the ref stop the play with a flag?
What makes the special teams “special”?

Through this process I learned many things, but most importantly I learned how much I truly love the strategy, hard hits, story lines, play calling (sometimes), and fan and community camaraderie that all come with football.

I thought I was an anomaly, but 46 percent of Ravens fans are female. More than ever, women are putting down their apron, donning a jersey and trekking out to M&T Bank Stadium for the beer-drinking, brat-eating and touchdown-cheering revelry that is football.

This has not gone unnoticed by the Baltimore Ravens, who hold an annual Football 101 Festival for women and recently introduced a women-only fan club called Purple. But if you ask me, we women already enjoy plenty of perk without a special fan club.

For instance, our wait to get in the stadium or use the restroom is considerably shorter than that of our male counterparts. When my boyfriend and I attended training camp, he received one autograph and I received six. Women even save money on jerseys by purchasing them in youth sizes.

Really though, the biggest perk is standing in the stadium, wearing a Ray Lewis jersey, screaming out the players names (“Reeeeeeeed”) and being a part of a club that is bigger than just football. And I, for one, am glad that it’s coed.

Any fellow female fans care to share their love of the game?

-EMILY ARNOLD, Special Publications Editor

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pearl Harbor attack remembered at Port of Baltimore

This morning, the Baltimore Maritime Museum and Port of Baltimore commemorated the 66th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Taney.

The USCGC Taney, the last surviving warship still afloat from the attack of Pearl Harbor, hosts one of the largest commemorations in the country annually on December 7th. Every year, survivors attend the ceremony to remember “the day that will live in infamy” and to share their personal accounts with others.

Above, WWII Pear Harbor survivors onboard the USCG Taney, left to right: Edward Robertson, Thomas Talbott, and Warren Coligny. Photos by Eric Stocklin.

Baltimore: Middle of the drunken pack

Well, it could have been better, but it could have been worse. Baltimore is the 46th safest drunken city in a recent survey by Men’s Health magazine. Not bad out of 100.

The survey, which is being reported by KNBC in Los Angeles, looked at drunken driving, liver disease, and other alcohol-induced crimes. But seriously folks, I have never felt that Baltimore is a city that drinks to excess, though we are prone to a certain type of brew.

However, some of our neighbors are more extreme examples from the survey. Richmond, Va. was the ninth best, while Washington was the eighth-worst.

So what do you think? Is Baltimore really that much safer than Washington when it comes to alcohol consumption?

-ANDY ROSEN, Business Writer

Give me the holiday experience, or not

With holiday shopping now hitting a fever pitch, shopping centers are doing everything they can to lure consumers and get them to stay and shop longer. Examples include the ubiquitous Santa’s Villages and traditional dressings of the season.

Baltimore-based marketing firm the Becker Group takes it one step further and gives its clients everything from 70-foot trees to interactive 20-foot high snow globes, with the goal of making a mall’s common space an immersive holiday experience for busy families.

How important is this to you? Sure, you can pop in and out of free-standing Target or Best Buy, but would it be a better experience to trundle the family up and head to the mall to enjoy the atmosphere instead?

-BEN MOOK, Assistant Business Editor

Women who launch businesses explain motivation

No surprise here: a survey has found that the desire for work-life balance and the ability to self-manage were the reasons women wanted to start their own businesses.

This summer’s Make Mine a Million $ Business survey sent voluntary e-mail questionnaires to women registered on the organization’s Web site. Almost two-thirds of the women who participated in the survey said they were mothers.

“After having a successful career in corporate America, I wanted to create some options,” said Maureen Borzacchiello, president of Creative Display Solutions, a West Hempstead, N.Y.-based firm. “It was (about) taking control of my life and being able to say, ‘If I want to have a child and work part-time or work at 2 in the morning, I have that option.’”

Make Mine a Million $ Business is a program that sponsors contests and provides financing, mentoring and workshops to help women entrepreneurs reach $1 million in annual revenues.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Comcast rolls out yule log in HD

Comcast wants you to know that the “cultural viewing phenomenon” of the yule log will be available this holiday season, in HD.

That’s right - through January 4, Greater Baltimore area customers can watch the yule log on their televisions at any time … even, as Comcast suggests, “as the backdrop for a weekend holiday party or on Christmas morning as families open their presents.”

It will be a high-tech log: the newly-produced version was filmed in 1080i picture and Dolby 5.1 sound.

According to the cable provider, last year Comcast customers viewed the yule log in HD more than twice the number of times as the standard-definition version.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

The jobs of the future

We’re going to need more makeup artists in the future (high-def TV, you know). Financial advisors, too. By the year 2016, we’ll be crawling with ‘em.

At least, according to the Department of Labor, which released a 10-year forecast for the hottest 30 occupations in the near future.

Of note: information technology folks (of course), home health care workers (to care for aging Baby Boomers).

Of interest: theatrical and performance makeup artists, veterinarians and gaming surveillance officers.

Other expectations: minorities will make up a greater percentage of the workforce, and seniors will work longer.

Click here to read the full list.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Patriots-Ravens game draws largest-ever cable audience

Even though the home team wasn’t victorious, the Baltimore Ravens may be able to find solace at the top of the cable ratings.

Monday night’s game on ESPN averaged more than 12.5 million homes and 17.5 million viewers, the largest audience yet on cable.

Alright, maybe the Patriots had something to do with it, too.

The AP reports:

The previous highs were 11.8 million households for last year’s Giants-Cowboys “Monday Night Football” game and 17.2 million viewers for Disney Channel’s “High School Musical 2″ movie in August.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

UMd. dubbed one of the "ugliest" college campuses

If you attended the University of Maryland at College Park, as I did, you might be used to defending your alma mater to outsiders after gameday riots or the like.

But this is a new one to me: the blog Campus Squeeze has listed UMd. as No. 20 on the Top 20 Ugliest Colleges in the USA (hey, at least we're better than Rutgers, listed as No. 19).

Drew University in New Jersey also made the list at No. 11, NC State is No. 7 and the No. 1 "most ugly" college: Drexel University in Philadelphia.

I always thought Maryland's campus - while not in the best of neighborhoods - was beautiful. Anyone feel its position on this list is justified?

Which Maryland campuses are the nicest? The least attractive?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

St. Mary's newspaper runs sobering ad for coffin giveaway

Talk about shock value.

The St. Mary's Today newspaper has run an ad announcing a "free coffin giveaway" to the first drunk driver to kill himself or herself this holiday season.

Editor Ken Rossignol, whose brother was killed by a drunk driver in 1975, has long crusaded against drinking and driving.

Here's the text of the advertisement:
Free Coffin Giveaway to the 1st DRUNK DRIVER TO KILL THEMSELVES DURING THIS HOLIDAY DRINKING AND DRIVING SEASON! Tired of all the nagging of loved ones, stupid commercials from MADD, cops, judges and addiction counselors? Throw a final bender this Christmas and get a cheaper funeral by being the ST. MARY'S TODAY Christmas Party DWI Dead Driver Winner! We will throw in a FREE wooden coffin...however, you could just call a cab and save us the pile of scrap lumber.

As you can imagine, news outlets like WJLA, Newschannel 8 and USA Today have expressed interest in the story.

St. Mary's Today also regularly prints the names of those arrested for Driving While Intoxicated in Southern Maryland.

Thanks to The Law & Lawyers Blog for the tip.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Choosing a new chief judge

OK, I confess: I'm a law dork. It's hard not to get sucked into law-dorkdom when you've covered Maryland's legal community for the past couple of years.

Anyway, because of my dork status, I've been thinking a lot today about who will replace Judge Joe Murphy as chief of the Court of Special Appeals.

UB law prof Byron Warnken suggested to me yesterday that the governor would probably pick someone who has been on the court a while, but not someone who is too close to retirement. If we're talking about judges who will reach the mandatory retirement age soon, that eliminates Judges Davis, Salmon and Sharer, all of whom will turn 70 in the next three years.

On the other end of the spectrum, using a three-year cut-off would eliminate only the court's newest member, Judge Woodward, who was appointed in May 2005.

Warnken also seems to believe that Judge Adkins will likely win the retiring Judge Cathell's seat on the Court of Appeals, and that Judge Barbera is heavily favored for the Court of Appeals seat that Judge Raker will vacate in April, so he thinks they are not likely candidates for the chief judge spot.

That leaves five possibilities: judges Hollander, the two Eylers, Krauser and Meredith.

Do you agree with this list? Anyone have any guesses about whom the governor might favor? (For the record, Warnken predicts James Eyler.)

-CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Maryland man sues Borat

Maryland driving instructor Michael Psenicska is suing the makers of the movie "Borat," alleging that the producers lied to him about the motives for the film.

Psenicska, who is a high school math teacher in Baltimore, has owned a driving school in Perry Hall for 32 years. The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

From the AP:

Psenicska's lawsuit says Fox and Cohen fraudulently induced him to sign documents approving his appearance in "Borat" just before he was filmed giving Cohen's Borat Sagdiyev character a driving lesson.

According to the lawsuit, the film's staffers had promised they were producing a documentary about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life, a subject that interested Psenicska because he was in the business of teaching foreigners to drive.

Yet, it says, when filming began, Borat did a hugging and kissing routine, struggled with his seat belt like a child, drove on the wrong side of the road, made ethnic slurs, said women had small brains and rolled down a window and offered a female pedestrian $10 for "sexy time."

Twentieth Century Fox spokesman Gregg Brilliant said Psenicska consented to the filming.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

New Maryland political Web site has deep pockets

Last week I was asked, "Are you a Maryland political insider?"

The query came from the Observer Media Group in the form of a promotional e-mail for, a new online presence in a modest niche - Maryland government and politics.

The editor, "Wally Edge," promises "original reporting, analysis, commentary, rumors" and more - covered "from Maryland by Marylanders."

But here's where it gets even more interesting: one local blogger isn't so sure about the "local coverage."

Adam Pagnucco writes on Maryland Politics Watch that the Observer Media Group, which also operates, is owned by Jared Kushner, a wealthy 20-something from New Jersey whose family has made a bundle in real estate. Kushner made headlines when he bought the New York Observer in 2006.

And New Jersey and Maryland aren't the only Kushner-owned political blogs out there.

Pagnucco also notes the many campaign contributions that Kushner has made to politicians, mostly Democratic, especially New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey.

So what do you think? Are you a "Maryland political insider" and will you be checking out this Web site?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

How long did it take you to get to work?

A local radio DJ noted this morning that if the government ever decided to do away with waterboarding, the form of torture could easily be replaced by a snowy commute.

I've got two and a half hours, from Bethesda to Baltimore - but I know someone out there can beat that.

Did anyone have better luck with public transit?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Please don't foul the P.A. announcer

Philip Hochberg, the lawyer and longtime P.A. announcer profiled in Monday's Maryland Lawyer, showed his true grit last weekend at the BB&T Classic basketball tournament in Washington, D.C.
(Hochberg, a sports lawyer, announced Redskins games for 38 years until 2001 and has announced George Washington University basketball games and University of Maryland football games for more than 30 years.)

While announcing the Maryland game against Virginia Commonwealth University Sunday night, Hochberg became an innocent bystander in a crash collision between Terp Bambale Osby and the scorer's table. Hochberg put his left arm up when he saw the 6'8", 250-pound center falling toward him, but it was clearly an unfair fight.

I'm sure the BB&T crowd would have forgiven the 65-year-old an "injury time out" from his announcing duties, but the old pro went right on calling the game while the medics bandaged up his swollen and bleeding hand. Talk about tough!

The Terps didn't fare any better - they lost to VCU, 85-76. Hochberg reported Tuesday that his hand is still swollen but at least he's getting a free DVD of the collision from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which aired the game and replayed the scene on its sports show.

"It's the first time in 50 years of doing basketball P.A. that that's happened," Hochberg wrote in an e-mail. "I'll survive."

IĆ­ll bet you lawyers out there have some stories of your own about unusual injuries on the job - care to share?

-LIZ FARMER, Legal Affairs Writer

Have you switched to LED holiday lights?

The National Zoo is touting the use of environmentally-friendly LED lights in its holiday displays. "Zoolights," which runs through Dec. 30, has "larger-than-life displays" of many of the Zoo's popular critters.

And (wee!) sponsor Pepco "will educate visitors about simple practices they can adopt in their households to save energy."

Have you used these LED lights on your home or Christmas tree? How do they look?

National Geographic says that if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LEDs, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month - enough to power 200,000 homes for a year.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

D.C., Baltimore score points for walkability

A report to be released today by the Brookings Institution ranks the Washington, D.C. region as the nation's most walkable.

And guess which city placed No. 15? Yep, the home of the Ravens - Baltimore.

Christopher Leinberger, a real estate developer and urban planner who conducted the study, counted the number of "regional-serving walkable urban places" in each of 30 metropolitan areas in the U.S. (By "regional-serving" he meant to exclude so-called "bedroom communities." The area had to have jobs, retail or cultural institutions that draw people in).

And even though many people's guess for the top spot would go to the Big Apple, the Wasington region outranked New York on a per-capita basis, with one walkable place for every 264,000 people. At No. 15, Baltimore placed behind Pittsburgh (No. 9) and Philadelphia (No. 13).

From the story:

Leinberger attributes Washington's success with walkability to several factors, including a large population of 20- and 30-somethings and recent strong economic growth. But the chief factor, he said, is the success of the Metro. The 31-year-old rail system has transformed the region, shaping development and making the walkable urban model more viable.

Like Washington, does Baltimore need a stronger rail system to move higher up the list?

Which neighborhoods in the Baltimore area would you consider walkable? Mount Vernon? Federal Hill? Hampden? Let us know.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Short-listed for the Court of Special Appeals

As we reported Friday, the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission whittled down the whopping list of candidates for the Court of Special Appeals to eight.

I’m wondering what everyone out there thinks of the names that were passed along to the gov. Anyone who applied and should’ve made the commission’s cut but didn’t? Anyone on the short list who doesn’t belong there?

It looks like O’Malley will have his work cut out for him because there are some very well-respected names on the list. O’Malley also has ample chance here to increase female representation on the court, which, as my colleague Brendan Kearney pointed out last month, is not proportional. I’ll also point out that the gov has a shot at appointing the first black woman judge on the Court of Special Appeals.

-CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Monday, December 3, 2007

AT&T to hang up on pay phones – but is anyone listening?

When was the last time you used a pay phone?

AT&T is betting that you’re so attached to your iPhone that you can’t remember.

The company announced today that it will disconnect from its share of the pay phone business by the end of 2008.

And – get this – InformationWeek reports AT&T expects “independent providers” to fill the service gap.

Maybe they’d be interested in a story our own Ben Mook wrote last year, when he reported that larger companies operated almost 90 percent of the pay phones in the state. (In Maryland, Verizon has by far the lion’s share of the industry).

There’s no question the industry’s declined: WaPo reported that the number of pay phones dropped by 50 percent in Maryland between 2000 and 2006, down to 24,784 from 43,336.

In his story, Ben even quoted Mason Harris, president of Rockville’s Robin Technologies Inc.: “The industry has gotten very uncompetitive for the independent businessperson,” Harris said in 2006. “It’s just not a level playing field.”

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Law blog round-up

Here are a few law links for your blustery Monday morning:

-The Supremes won’t hear (PDF) Maryland v. Paulino (PDF), a.k.a. the buttocks case. That means the Court of Appeals’ decision stands; the court voted 4-3 in June to throw out the drug conviction of a man whose buttocks cleavage was searched by police at a car wash.

-A gay Iranian man from Rockville apparently faces deportation. According to an article in the Gay City News, Hassan Parhizkar’s immigration problems stem from him hiring a man he thought was a lawyer, but who was allegedly a con man posing as an attorney, to handle his initial claim for political asylum.

-17-year-olds can no longer vote in the Maryland primaries, complains WaPo letter-writer.

-A New York judge has pledged not to shave until state judges there, who make $136,000 a year and haven’t gotten a raise in nine years, get a salary hike.

-CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Video-sharing Web sites become a science

If you think YouTube is not credible enough or too cluttered to be of use to you (or you're worried about pesky copyright laws), you might be interested in SciVee.

The video-sharing startup is designed to give scientists a venue to share their lab discoveries and lectures in a receptive online environment. And today, SciVee enters the beta phase.

The AP reports:

Funded by the National Science Foundation, SciVee encourages scholars with a paper hot off the press to make a short video called a "pubcast" highlighting the key points. It also accepts unsolicited submissions that have no connection to any published work.

Phil Bourne (above right), a pharmacologist at UC San Diego, launched SciVee this summer after seeing his students hooked on YouTube. Bourne wanted a reputable virtual place where researchers could trade techniques without the potpourri of topics found on general video-sharing sites. "It's quite a quantum leap for scientists to present their research in this way," Bourne said.

But hey, check out the videos for yourself. And let us know what you think.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Army, Navy rally at Inner Harbor

In preparation for today's Army/Navy game, to be held at M&T Bank Stadium, there was a pep rally Friday afternoon at the Inner Harbor. Mayor Sheila Dixon was in attendance, as were the Army and Navy bands and supporters.

Photographer Rich Dennison was there to capture the event.