Baltimore’s City Council isn’t meeting tonight because its president, vice president and three of its six standing committee chairs aren’t here.
They’re in Las Vegas, about to depart from their $349-a-night suites to attend the lavish Maryland Party at the Wynn Resort. Or to join the festivities of its new late-hour competitor, Retail Revelry in the DMV. Or both.
Official Council work was halted last Friday as President Nick Mosby, Vice President Sharon Green Middleton and Council Committee Chairs Eric Costello and Mark Conway prepared to join Mayor Brandon Scott and other electeds, including Maryland Governor Wes Moore, at the self-proclaimed “largest business development networking event in Maryland,” which happens to be 2,100 miles from BWI Airport.
(The Council held a meeting last Monday to make up for today’s canceled session.)
The Baltimore contingent has treated itself to $21,692 in taxpayer funds to attend the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon convention this week.
The stated purpose is to attract office tenants, grocery stores and other retailers attending the RECon convention to Baltimore.
“If I don’t go, then other mayors are going to continue to eat Baltimore’s lunch,” Mayor Scott told The Baltimore Banner before he flew to Las Vegas on Sunday following the Preakness Stakes.
But a fringe benefit of the Vegas experience, at very least, is enjoyment of the around-the-clock activities where Scott and the others are staying.
Master of Ceremonies
Three days of mixing and meeting will be capped by tonight’s 2,500-person Maryland Party at the Wynn’s exclusive Encore Beach Club.
The party and other daily events coinciding with ICSC convention are the brainchild of Howard L. Perlow, an ex-con who, at age 70, acts as the master of ceremonies in often eccentric garb.
(Pleading guilty to misappropriating $300,000 from a title business in 1990, he was later pardoned by ex-Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening.)
Perlow’s private company, Maryland Real Estate Convention LLC, rents space at the Wynn and then sells sponsorships to companies and government agencies.
This year’s presenting sponsor is the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., which paid $50,000 for the privilege.
Platinum sponsors at tonight’s party (at $17,500 a pop) include Alex Smith’s Atlas Restaurant Group, the Maryland Department of Commerce, Greenberg Gibbons, Merritt Properties, the Maryland Department of Transportation, architecture firm Morris & Ritchie, and the Ravens football team.
Less expensive opportunities for company branding, logo lighting, digital signage and private bungalows have been sold to The Cordish Companies (owners of Live Casino & Hotel at Arundel Mills), the quasi-public Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the Kramon & Graham law firm, Whiting-Turner, Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, KO Public Affairs, and the Paterakis family’s Harbor East Management Group.
In all, more than 100 entities pay Perlow’s company to meet and mingle with government development officials, politicians and fellow real estate professionals.
Included in the mix are a smattering of outfits that don’t fit the business profile – The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore (a $9,000 silver sponsor this year), the Laborers’ International Union (a $12,500 gold sponsor), and LifeBridge Health (a $9,500 food sponsor).
All three, however, are active in Maryland politics, variously handing out political contributions or accepting funding from the city or state.
As Perlow’s branding prices have risen, a breakaway group has coalesced under the heading of the DMV Party. This year, starting at 10 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, they’ll be “celebrating” real estate in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
The party was organized by the Towson leasing companies KLNB and H&R Retail, the Kimco investment trust, the Rappaport brokerage firm and Peterson Companies of Fairfax, Va. Its lead sponsor is MCB Real Estate, the David Bramble-headed concern that recently purchased Harborplace.
Tonight’s gala will be held at the Ayu Dayclub. This “outdoor oasis inspired by the harmonious atmosphere of southeast Asia’s islands” is located at Resorts World, billed as the newest – and at $4.3 billion, the most expensive – gambling resort to open in Sin City.