- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

Metro worker avoids prosecution despite stockpiling agency property; Lululemon jury swiftly convicts Norwood; McGarry retires from ‘It’s Academic’; D.C. lawmakers come clean on secret Tampa trip; Terps athletic program losing millions; USGS: 600 aftershocks from August quake; Gansler talks gay marriage at Salisbury University; Quake damaged Robert E. Lee home.

Among the pieces of Metro property found inside an agency employee’s home included a power generator, a DVD player, a BlackBerry wireless device, a color printer, a digital camera, lots of tools and a computer monitor used for watching movies. But records show that the former employee was never prosecuted for the “borrowing” spree. Citing theft among other possible charges, investigators referred the case to the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office in Prince George’s County for criminal prosecution. But in a letter to Metro’s Office of Inspector General, the prosecutor’s office cited serious problems in the transit agency’s internal policies as the reason for turning down the case, documents show, according to The Washington Times.

A Montgomery County jury on Wednesday convicted Brittany Norwood of first-degree murder in the horrific slaying of her co-worker at the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda. The six-day trial — which detailed a vicious killing, the dramatic twists and turns of an investigation, an elaborate cover story and a morbidly staged crime scene — ended with the jury presenting its verdict close to 7 p.m., after about an hour of deliberation, according to The Times.

The announcement that Mac McGarry is retiring from “It’s Academic” ends his reign as the host of the longest-running TV quiz show in history. But that record will stand as a mere historical footnote to generations of Washingtonians who more likely will remember him as the exuberantly studious host of the Saturday-morning show for the past 50 years. “I’ve been in the business for 60 years, and I feel like I never worked a day,” Mr. McGarry tells The Times. “I’ve enjoyed being on the air, but it’s time.”

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown says he “was not invited” to join Mayor Vincent C. Gray and a pair of council members who went to Tampa, Fla., over the weekend to tour the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training facility. The trip, first reported in a column by The Times on Tuesday, was made with an eye toward attracting the Washington Redskins back to the District of Columbia with a new training facility. But Mr. Gray’s public schedule for the day mentioned “desk work” from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. before attendance at a high school football game.

The University of Maryland’s athletic department is on course to lose $4.7 million in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2012, despite spending the fewest dollars per student-athlete of any school in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The school’s budget deficit is projected to escalate substantially over the next five years, ballooning to $17.6 million in June 2017 unless the department significantly increases revenue, slashes spending or both. Maryland knew it had a budget problem when university President Wallace D. Loh appointed a commission in July to study the matter. But financial documents provided to The Washington Post shows just how severe the problem is and stands to become.

There have been more than 600 aftershocks in Virginia since the rare East Coast earthquake that struck on Aug. 23, according to U.S. Geological Survey researchers. “What we might be looking at is either a new fault or a previously undiscovered one deep within the geologic formations here,” wrote research geologist Mark Carter in a Wednesday-night Twitter lecture titled “Did You Feel It? The Virginia Earthquake of August 23, 2011.” Not all of the aftershocks following the 5.8-magnitude quake have been strong enough to be recorded on the USGS’ “Latest Earthquakes” website, but there have been some 40 or more temblors of magnitude 2.0 or higher. The quake was felt from Florida to Canada and as far west as the Mississippi River, reports insidevirginia.com.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Ganslerspoke Wednesday at Salisbury University to students about the possibility of same-sex marriage in the state and challenges to getting married that other groups have faced throughout history. The state’s General Assembly prepares for another year of battling on the issue, and Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, prepares to put his full political weight behind the bill. Couples throughout Maryland who do not legally have the right to get married are waiting for the conclusion of a decades-long fight, reports the Daily Times of Salisbury.

A 200-year-old house in Arlington that housed Robert E. Lee and his family before the Civil War has suffered minor damage from the August earthquake. Matt Henderson, acting site manager of the Arlington House, says a rear wall suffered minor separation from the house and there was a significant amount of plaster damage. Mr. Henderson says the back hallway and upstairs have been closed to visitors since the earthquake. He tells The Post that there is no estimate on the cost of repairs or how long repairs will take. A major restoration project was already under way at the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery when the quake struck. The memorial is managed by the National Park Service.