Rendering of the White Oak Science Gateway project Credit: Montgomery County

Maryland residents to receive credits from Apple now that book price-fixing case is over

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced Monday that customers who purchased e-books from Apple will receive credits from the tech behemoth after the company settled a price-fixing case brought by 32 states. Customers who purchased e-books from the company between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, will receive credits of $6.93 per book for New York Times bestsellers as well as $1.57 for other books. The credits can be used to purchase anything Apple sells, according to the Attorney General’s office.

A New York judge previously ruled that Apple conspired with publishers to raise the retail prices of e-books, a decision that was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case, forcing Apple to distribute a $400 million settlement. Maryland customers will share approximately $9 million of the total settlement, according to Frosh.

“When companies conspire to thwart competition, consumers lose money,” Frosh said in a statement. “I’m gratified that we were able to halt these exploitative practices and get consumers some relief.”

Washington Post report examines Montgomery County’s White Oak development deal

At the behest of County Executive Ike Leggett, the county earlier this month struck a deal to sell 115 acres of Montgomery County property to the developer Percontee near the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak. The county announced June 3 Percontee would build a town-center-style development on the land. However, The Washington Post reported Sunday the county transferred the land, which was appraised at $42 million, for $10 million from Percontee. As part of the deal, Percontee will be able to use a $32 million line of credit to pay for county costs such as “roads, school and transportation impact taxes and other key elements of the project,” according to the Post. Whatever remains of the $32 million line of credit after 10 years would be returned to the county—a part of the agreement added to incentivize “Percontee to move quickly” on construction, the Post reported.

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Three County Council members told the paper they were skeptical about the deal and plan to scrutinize it over the summer before approving $40 million in road and other infrastructure improvements for the project. Council members said they were concerned that parts of the deal were negotiated in closed sessions during which only Leggett and Percontee President John Gudelsky were present. Percontee is owned by the Gudelsky family and the Post report noted that Martha Gudelsky, John’s mother, helped Leggett make important contacts during his first campaign for County Council in 1986.

County permitting department to require some permit applicants to apply online

In an effort to move more of its processes online, Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services will require contractors and other individuals applying for fire alarm, electrical or right-of-way utility construction work permits to apply online through its eServices portal starting July 5. The county department launched its online services portal in December 2013 with the goal of shifting much of its paper-heavy application process online. Home builders, developers and residents can now apply and pay online through the portal for permits required for activities ranging from demolition to residential building alterations. As of December, the department said 51 percent of applications for new home building permits were submitted through the portal.

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