- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Gore not decided on presidential run
Former Vice President Al Gore has not yet decided whether to run for president again in 2004, and conceded he could have done better in the 2000 campaign.
"The needle is straight up in the air," Mr. Gore said in an interview with ABC's "20/20" last night meaning he could lean either way in deciding whether to run.
Mr. Gore said he accepted responsibility for his 2000 loss.
"I have to take some responsibility for that myself. I think I could have been a better candidate," Mr. Gore said. "I think I could have communicated much better, more clearly and forcefully."
In the interview, among his first since losing the 2000 election, Mr. Gore said he was "absolutely" certain he was going to win after the Florida Supreme Court ordered a recount of the state's ballots.
He was shocked, he said, by the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that stopped the recount and ended his campaign.
Mr. Gore, who also appeared yesterday on David Letterman's "The Late Show" on CBS, has said he will decide by the end of the year whether he will make another presidential run in 2004.

Two planes collide near airport
FAIRFIELD, N.J. Two single-engine planes collided near a small airport last night and plunged to the ground in a residential area, killing at least one pilot, officials said.
It was not immediately clear how many people were aboard the four-seat Mooney and the four-seat Piper Cherokee, said Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Essex County Airport, also known as the Caldwell airport, is located near a suburban residential area roughly 20 miles northwest of New York City. It is used by small planes, helicopters and executive jets.
Both planes fell to the ground about a half-mile apart near homes located on main roads. Neither home appeared damaged and there was no word of injuries on the ground.

Audit: Election chief mismanaged office
MIAMI The elections supervisor in a county that botched this year's primaries has mismanaged her office, spent too much and violated state law, according to an audit released yesterday.
Broward County elections supervisor Miriam Oliphant relinquished most of her responsibilities after Broward's vote count in the September primary was delayed a week as a result of technical glitches and poor planning.
In the latest report, County Commission Auditor Norman Thabit found that Ms. Oliphant went over her staff salary budget by $535,939 during fiscal 2002. Her office had a $921,263 deficit during that time.
The audit listed 37 problems, including the fact that 24 of the office's 72 employees received raises of more than 5 percent during that time.
Ms. Oliphant agreed with the findings and promised to follow the audit's recommendations.
The audit also found Ms. Oliphant rented her Fort Lauderdale home to one of her employees. That violated a state law that prohibits public officials from having contractual relationships that would create a conflict between their private interests and public duties.
The state Ethics Commission has been asked to determine whether the rental was a conflict of interest.

Third strike: $11 theft gets criminal 25 to life
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. A career criminal was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison under California's three-strikes law for stealing $11 worth of wine, lip balm and breath freshener.
Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa called Ronald Herrera, 57, one of the worst criminals to pass through his courtroom, and prosecutor Darryl Perlin said: "He's what the three-strikes law is all about."
Herrera's record lists 17 serious felonies, including a 1971 home-invasion robbery and rape of a woman and her 15-year-old daughter, the shooting of a police dispatcher, and six armed robberies in Virginia. He was sentenced Thursday for burglary and petty theft at a supermarket.
At trial, his lawyer said Herrera has a brain injury that made him forget to pay for the items.


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