It’s back. The fabled Maryland Party – where real estate moguls hobnob with public officials far from home – will return on Monday, May 23, at the Wynn Las Vegas after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.
This year’s theme: “The Greatest State on Earth: Maryland.”
The catchphrase is a takeoff on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus motto, this time featuring roving actors and real-time politicians – legislators! mayors! county execs! – in the place of live elephants and the Flying Wallendas.
Among those scheduled to attend are Larry Hogan, Maryland’s outgoing governor, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, and delegations from Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince George’s and other counties.
6 p.m. 5/18 UPDATE: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was reported two weeks ago to be attending this year’s meeting, but today his office said he will not be going.
The invitation-only gathering, held amid the swimming pools, nightclubs and gaming tables of the Wynn Resort and Casino, coincides with the in-person return of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas, which Covid had also upended.
A chance to personally persuade developers and retailers to invest in Baltimore is the reason why city politicians say they are flying west this weekend after the Preakness Stakes:
• “The ICSC produces experiences that create connections and catalyze deals,” said Mayor Scott in his submission to the Board of Estimates, adding that “the ICSC provides an enduring platform for professional success and creates forward-thinking content with actionable insights.”
• “To network with real estate and business professionals from across the country to discuss business opportunities for the city of Baltimore” is the reason given by Mosby.
• “Attracting office tenants, new residential construction, grocery stores and other retail opportunities” are the goals of Councilman Eric Costello, who is leaving on Friday “due to pre-conference meetings” at the desert resort.
Upping the Per-Diem Rate
This morning the Board of Estimates (headed by Scott and Mosby) will approve $10,832 in travel expenditures for themselves and for Costello.
Scott and Mosby will be gone for three days; Costello for six.
Another $7,521 will pave the way for Deputy Mayor Ted Carter and Michael Huber, Scott’s chief of staff, to commingle with real estate promoters and investors.
Because the Wynn Resort charges almost double the government’s standard per-diem rate ($349 a night vs. $189), the BOE will cough up $160 per day in extra reimbursements for each of the five officials.
The nearly $19,000 in travel costs doesn’t include those from the Baltimore Development Corporation. The quasi-public organization is sending its own contingent to Las Vegas, led by CEO Colin Tarbert.
The BDC’s expenses for travel, renting a booth at the convention center and serving as a sponsor for the Maryland Party are not publicly available. Nor are the expenses of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (BPOB), another quasi-public entity that is an event sponsor.
Convicted Felon’s Brainchild
The one-night Maryland Party and three-day Maryland Convention at the Wynn are the brainchild of Howard L. Perlow, a former lawyer convicted in 1990 of stealing $300,000 in a title insurance fraud scheme.
In that high-profile case, Perlow admitted to “fraudulent misappropriation” of escrow accounts held by his Pikesville title company, which went bankrupt, to buy jewelry, clothes, a vacation home in Florida and a stake in the Baltimore Blast soccer team.
He was disbarred and served prison time.
In 2002, he was pardoned by Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, which expunged the conviction from Perlow’s record.
In 2011, he was appointed to the Baltimore County Planning Board by then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
He was reappointed to a third term on the Planning Board by Olszewski in 2019.
His company sells different packages to businesses and government entities for speaking opportunities, custom branding and other promotional events.
Now a 68-year-old settlement company executive, Perlow owns Maryland Real Estate Convention LLC, a company that sells sponsorships to The Maryland Party, a name he has trademarked and expanded into what he calls a “business planning and meeting service” run in conjunction with the ICSC convention.
This year he’s selling different packages to businesses and government entities for speaking opportunities, custom branding, logo lighting, videos and other promotional events before, during and after the Maryland Party.
Plenty of Takers
There was lots of pent-up demand this year based on online material posted by his company.
For example, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. paid $75,000 to be the presenting sponsor, which will give County Executive Angela Alsobrooks a prime spot at next Monday’s party next to Gov. Hogan and Perlow.
Then there are Platinum sponsors.
Costing $17,500 apiece, they include developer Greenberg Gibbons, Atlas Restaurant Group, Morris & Ritchie, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Ravens football franchise.
Gold sponsors, at $12,500 a pop, are represented by the likes of ShopRite, Cordish Companies, Goodman-Gable-Gould Adjusters and the Venable law firm.
Perlow’s company also offers private cabanas, intimate and confidential.
They can be rented for $17,000, beverages and alcohol included. Mark Sapperstein’s 28 Walker Development, Caves Valley Partners, M. Luis Construction, Wells Fargo Bank, Miles & Stockbridge, Harkins Builders and Mayson-Dixon Companies are among the Baltimore companies renting cabanas.
Also popular are Kosher meal sponsorships, ranging from $10,000 at the Ultra Lounge to $4,500 at the Encore Pool.
Missing: Plank and Weller
Notably absent this year: the once high-profile developers of Port Covington, Kevin Plank and Marc Weller.
At the 2016 convention – then seeking $660 million in TIF tax incentive financing from the city – Plank had an overpowering presence, his development company renting space at the convention center and sponsoring many Maryland Party events.
“According to online attendance records,” The Brew noted at the time, “the company will be represented by President Marc Weller, Senior Vice President Steven A. Siegel, and Phil Akins, chief financial officer of Plank Industries. Several marketing professionals will also attend to promote the Covington project to potential retailers.”
This year Weller Development and Plank’s Sagamore Ventures are not listed as sponsors of any Maryland Party events.
Generous Campaign Giver
Besides hosting the Maryland Party, Perlow is the longtime vice president of Residential Title & Escrow and Commercial Settlement Services, Owings Mills companies known for their generosity to area politicians.
Over the last decade, the companies have given more than $200,000 to mostly Democratic officeholders and candidates, with the exception of Republican Governor Hogan and his associates.
Recent contributions include $6,000 to Baltimore County Executive Olszewski, $4,000 to Mayor Scott and $2,500 to Eric Costello – all Democrats – and $6,000 to Kelly Schulz, the former Maryland secretary of commerce who is running for governor in the July Republican primary.
In his own name, Perlow has sprinkled around money to Baltimore state’s attorney candidate Ivan Bates ($2,500), Harford County Executive Barry Glassman ($3,000), Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson ($3,000), Baltimore City Councilman Robert Stokes ($1,000) and former Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young ($4,000).