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A little home away from Homewood

When the president of the Johns Hopkins University shells out $1.5 million for a Federal Hill rowhouse - five miles from his free digs on campus - you've got to wonder.

Is campus life that dead?

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Is the president taking another job?

Will the down real estate market ever come to Baltimore's waterfront?

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And most importantly, is it too late for the rest of us - who don't have seven figures to blow on rowhouses - to get into higher education?

When he moved into Nichols House 10 years ago, William Brody became the first Hopkins president to live on campus since Lincoln Gordon in 1971. At the time, Brody said that the move would allow him and his wife, Wendy, to immerse themselves in Hopkins culture.

Have they had their fill?

Turns out the Brodys are staying put in the two-story Georgian on campus. The 4,700-square-foot place on East Montgomery Street that they bought through their family trust last month will just be their home away from Homewood - an "in-town getaway," in the words of Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea.

"They very much - the word I was told was 'absolutely' - intend to remain in Nichols House on campus as their primary residence," O'Shea told The Sun's Gady Epstein.

Is the purchase a sign that Brody is stepping down?

"I would not read anything at all into this, as to the planning of his future plans," O'Shea said. "He has not announced any plans."

Now he's somebody - the office proves it

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U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer moved into his spacious new House majority leader suite in the Capitol - and offered a backhanded thank-you to one of his predecessors at his first presser of the year.

"If you are going to succeed somebody ... who was as powerful as Tom DeLay and as acquisitive as Mr. DeLay was, you will get a spectacular office," said the Southern Maryland Democrat, who has become the highest-ranking House member in state history.

Hoyer continued to marvel at the crowds his weekly press briefings have drawn since the new Democratic majority elected him leader in November, The Sun's Matthew Hay Brown reports. A comparative handful would show up for the sessions he held in his relatively modest minority whip office. On Wednesday, it was standing room only in the new, larger suite. He promised not to forget the long-timers.

"We are going to reserve the seats for those who came to these pen and pads when I was irrelevant," he said. "There are some who may still think I am irrelevant."

The dummy was standing mute

"It's a good thing the delivery of presents is swifter than the delivery of justice," attorney Arthur Frank told me last week. That was after his client got his day in court more than a year after police charged him - and supposedly Flex-Cuffed the family Santa mannequin.

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Frank Clowers Sr. of Hampden (where else would you find drugs and a life-sized St. Nick happily cohabitating?) pleaded guilty to marijuana possession with intent to distribute. He got a suspended sentence, and prosecutors dropped weapons charges.

If the case had gone to trial, Frank said he was ready "to discredit the police officers" with a PowerPoint presentation that included a photo of St. Nick in the nylon restraints. Clowers said police slapped them on Santa during the December 2005 drug raid. A police spokeswoman suggested at the time that Clowers himself had cuffed Mr. Claus.

"If they could do that to Santa," Frank said, "just think what they could do to my poor client."

Connect the dots

Sure, it's out with the old and in with the new in Annapolis, but this is going a little too far: Parris Glendening strolled into the basement door of the State House Wednesday afternoon, bypassing the metal detector as you might expect an ex-Gov to do, only to have the guard stop him, according to witness Mike Golden. "She had him empty his pockets and everything." ... Golden, spokesman for Comptroller and ex-Gov William Donald Schaefer, is moving on to MPT, where he will be managing director of communications. ... Tickets for Mayor-to-be Sheila Dixon's Jan. 24 reception at the Maritime Park Museum: $250 to $4,000 a head. Tickets for rival Keiffer Mitchell's fundraiser, the same night, at Mex Restaurant: $50 for "Amigos," $100 for "Buen Amigos," and $250 for "Gran Amigos." ... Mitchell already has a gran amigo in Doug Gansler. As the new AG was sworn in last week, he thanked Mitchell for attending - and predicted that the councilman would move up, The Sun's Jennifer Skalka reports. "We're looking forward to you being the next mayor of Baltimore," Gansler said. ... Turns out Martin O'Malley's parting gift to Pat Jessamy goes beyond that $83,000 raise. She's also getting a new city car. After getting stuck with klunkers with windows that didn't work, engines that didn't start and exhaust systems that blew into the cabin instead of out the tailpipe, Jessamy was suddenly invited last month to pick out a brand new set of wheels. She selected a 2007 black Crown Victoria. Price tag not yet available from city Fleet Management. ... Gov.-elect O'Malley hosted City Council members for dinner last week at the Capital Grille on Pratt Street, The Sun's Doug Donovan reports. They ordered off the menu, but it was a cash bar. The campaign - not taxpayers - picked up the $1,500 tab.


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