- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

ALABAMA
Business groups back more education funds
The state's two largest chambers of commerce, in Birmingham and Mobile, yesterday announced their support for efforts to increase funding for education.
Hand-in-hand with a call for more money for public schools, colleges and universities, both business groups also called for tougher standards to hold schools accountable for the job they do and the money they spend, the Birmingham News reported.
Alabama public schools are expected to lose $200 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 because of lagging tax collections in a poor economy. Some estimates have the state as a whole falling as much as $500 million in the red a year from now. The crisis has Republican Gov. Bob Riley and legislative leaders searching for ways out of the money crunch.
Leaders of both chambers, who together represent more than 6,000 businesses, said the crisis is an opportunity for educators, business leaders and others to forge solutions to long-standing problems.

ARIZONA
Road-rage shooting kills Phoenix man
A 19-year-old man was shot after a brief car chase with another driver who was apparently angry over a traffic slight Sunday afternoon, Phoenix police said.
The victim was shot near 2627 N. 45th Ave. by the driver of a green Ford 150 pickup truck, police said. The truck was forest green and bore an Arizona license plate partially reading 149, police told the Arizona Republic.
The road-rage altercation began near 45th Avenue and Virginia Street. The two vehicles sped north, and the victim swerved off the road into a parked car after the gunman shot him once in the neck.
The gunman then stopped to fire three more rounds at the victim, police said.
The victim died later at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. His name was not released pending notification of relatives.

CALIFORNIA
Hayward sees growth in pot dispensaries
HAYWARD A sprouting hub of medical marijuana dispensaries has some people calling the downtown area "Haysterdam," a hybrid of Hayward and Amsterdam the Dutch city known for its drug tolerance.
Three businesses within a couple of blocks are dispensing medical marijuana, and two are proposed for the future, the Oakland Tribune reported.
"Hayward is the first stop for people coming from the peninsula and Santa Clara County," said Phillip Mol, owner of Helping Hands Patients' Center on B Street, adding that patients stop in Hayward instead of traveling to Oakland for marijuana.
News of the latest proposed dispensary buzzed last week among downtown business owners as they received notification from the city about a use permit under consideration for Total Hayward Compassion, proposed at a site on B Street between Main Street and Mission Boulevard.
Business owners surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said they opposed the dispensary because they did not think it meshed with ongoing efforts to upgrade B Street, which is slated for a $3 million face-lift beginning this month.

FLORIDA
Firefighters respond at own building
CLEARWATER Oh, the irony. The fire department caught fire.
Actually, it was the fire prevention and life safety building next door to the Clearwater Fire Department's headquarters. The fire wasn't much, just a spray of sparks and some wisps of white smoke, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
Still, it was unusual to see firetrucks responding to the fire station for a fire.
Friday afternoon, construction crews working on the building next door were digging a trench. In their path was a concrete encasement that housed the fire department building's power supply.
Crews dug underneath the encasement and hoped not to disturb it, but their digging caused it to give way and break.
Wires that ran to the fire department were yanked away from the building, causing an arc of electricity that started a small fire. Flames were confined to electrical housing, though a small amount of smoke seeped into the building.

GEORGIA
Smoking ban begins in DeKalb businesses
DeKalb smokers, put down that lighter.
As of yesterday, smoking no longer is permitted in restaurants and office buildings located in unincorporated DeKalb County.
County commissioners voted in late December to toughen the indoor smoking ordinance, raising the ire of some restaurant owners, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
They complained that government had no business regulating what customers could do in private establishments.
Commissioners were concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke and wanted to protect nonsmokers.
"That's always been the role of government, to protect the health and welfare of its citizens," said Commissioner Burrell Ellis, who proposed the changes to the ordinance.

HAWAII
Habitat for stilts lost to safety
Cyanotech Corp.'s award-winning habitat for endangered Hawaiian stilts likely will be shut down in a compromise over public safety.
About 250 stilts, known in Hawaiian as ae'o, had been expected to return to the Kona habitat in March, the Honolulu Advertiser reported.
On the recommendation of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Kona company has drained its 1.7-acre artificial lake and is installing a net over the dry bed to discourage an estimated 250 stilts from returning in March to breed as they have since the habitat was created in 1997.
The state Department of Transportation said the congregation of the black-and-white wetland birds represented a hazard to air traffic at Kona International Airport a half-mile away.
The agencies butted heads on the subject for years, with a compromise reached in the company's revised habitat conservation plan.
Under the three-year plan, if the number of stilts that fledged (maturing from egg to flight) in the first breeding season exceeded the number of stilts expected to die there over the length of the plan, then the habitat would be discontinued.
That was what happened when five drowned from March to August, while 48 chicks fledged.

IOWA
Minority students cite job barriers
Minority students, particularly blacks, are less likely to hold jobs than are their white peers, according to results from a Des Moines Register questionnaire of students at seven Des Moines-area high schools.
Without jobs, the minority teenagers miss out on the economic and educational benefits of employment, say community, employment and education analysts. They blame economic barriers and a lack of role models and say that training programs are the best hope of helping teens overcome these obstacles.
"The benefits of getting these teens employed far outweigh the consequences of not getting them employed," said Bobby Stanley of Urban Dreams, a social service agency in Des Moines. "It's almost like until it becomes a crisis, we don't pay any attention to it."
The Register questionnaire answered by 4,867 students found that 49 percent of ninth- through 12th-grade white students worked, compared with 40 percent of minority students. Those numbers are similar to national figures.

KENTUCKY
Plane crash kills pilot, co-pilot, child
SOMERSET A twin-engine aircraft crashed on approach to Somerset airport, killing three of the seven persons on board, police said.
The dead in Sunday night's crash were the pilot and co-pilot and a child. The child's mother and three siblings were injured.
There were low clouds and low visibility as the plane approached the airport, said Mark Jarvis, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Jackson. There was no snow or freezing rain at the time, he said.
The woman was in intensive care yesterday at the University of Tennessee Hospital at Knoxville, but her condition was not disclosed immediately. The children were in good condition yesterday at Lake Cumberland Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Susan Ramsey Wilson said.
The pilot was Joseph A. Maglish, 41, of Crown Point, Ind., and the co-pilot of the aircraft was Shalabh Agarwal, 32, of Valparaiso, Ind., police said. The identity of the dead child was not immediately released.

LOUISIANA
Feds pony up cash for corruption probe
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and U.S. Rep. David Vitter, Republican, announced yesterday that the federal government had set aside $1.5 million to help with the corruption probe in the New Orleans area.
The New Orleans Police Department will receive $1.3 million to help defray costs on the ongoing investigation. The Metropolitan Crime Commission will receive $200,000 to continue the Watchdog Corruption Hotline, designed to help the public report mismanagement and unethical behavior, the Times-Picayune reported.
The crackdown has led to several unbudgeted expenditures by the police department. The funds will help with those costs and could be used for additional training and equipment for the investigators.
"The FBI recently doubled the number of corruption investigators in its New Orleans office. Congressman Vitter's appropriation ensures that the New Orleans police officers who are working with the FBI will have the resources they need to carry out these complex investigations," Mr. Nagin said.
Mr. Vitter was able to secure these funds in the final spending bill approved by Congress last week. The congressman was recently named vice chairman of the Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary appropriations subcommittee, where the funding originated.

NEW YORK
Ono philosophical as she turns 70
NEW YORK More than 30 years after the breakup of the Beatles and on the brink of her 70th birthday, Yoko Ono has become philosophical about the days when many Beatles fans hated her and blamed her for the band's demise.
"I think that through that kind of incredible, strange confrontation, people started to understand me," the widow of John Lennon told the New York Post for a story in Sunday's editions.
Mrs. Ono turns 70 today, and more than 200 guests are expected to attend a cocktail reception in her honor at a Manhattan restaurant, the Post said.
Mrs. Ono keeps busy these days managing the legacy of her late husband and producing dance mixes of his music and her own. She is about to release a dance mix of "Walking on Thin Ice" the song on which Mr. Lennon was working the night he was murdered in 1980.
"If he's observing me from up there, I'm sure he's proud of me," Mrs. Ono said. "It's going to go on and on. This is what I love now, so it's great."

NORTH CAROLINA
Federal funds cut for flight centennial
The U.S. House has cut federal financing for the centennial of flight celebration at Wright Brothers Memorial Park to $500,000 in a final appropriations bill approved last week, just one-sixth of what the National Park Service requested.
"I can guarantee you that we'll still have a good event, but it may not be as fancy an event as what it was going to be originally," said National Park Service Outer Banks Group Superintendent Lawrence Belli. "It makes life more difficult. We'll have to cut corners."
The Park Service has promised to provide additional money to help pay personnel costs, Mr. Belli said. Ultimately, he said, he believes that the public will not realize that the event had been scaled back.
The Park Service has partnered with the state First Flight Centennial Commission to plan events for Dec. 12-17 at the park in Kill Devil Hills to celebrate Orville and Wilbur Wright's first successful powered flight, on Dec. 17, 1903.
The Park Service's original funding wish list totaled $7 million, but the service scaled back its request to $3 million. The Senate approved $1 million last month before the House voted to cut the amount in half late Thursday.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Wallet may hold clue to Hunley crewman's ID
CHARLESTON Scientists say a leather wallet found on the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley may provide details about one of the eight men who died on the vessel during the Civil War.
Work on excavating the 3-by-5-inch wallet began yesterday, the 139th anniversary of the hand-cranked submarine's disappearance. The Hunley became the first sub to sink an enemy warship when it rammed the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor on Feb. 17, 1864. While the Union ship was destroyed, the Hunley and its crew also were lost.
Much of the scientific salvage work conducted so far has shown the technology and workings of the sub. Sen. Glenn McConnell, Charleston Republican, who chairs the Hunley Commission, says more focus will be placed on identifying each crewman.
Mr. McConnell says he wants to "lay these men to rest before the clock strikes the hour of the 140th anniversary."
The crew will be buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston alongside 13 others who had lost their lives working on the Hunley.

TEXAS
Proposed budget cuts undermine scholarships
AUSTIN An estimated 5,000 students would be denied free college tuition promised to them by the state because of cuts designed to ease a projected $10 billion budget shortfall, lawmakers were told yesterday.
Texas Higher Education Commissioner Don Brown told members of the House Appropriations Committee that budget cuts would mean the Texas Grant scholarship program would not be able to provide aid to all of the estimated 80,000 students who will be eligible in 2004 and 2005.
Texas is facing the shortfall through 2005 because of declining sales-tax revenue and rising expenses. State agencies were asked to cut their budget requests by 12.5 percent so lawmakers could balance the next state spending plan without new taxes.
The state's medical schools also would see "catastrophic cuts," with the Baylor College of Medicine being hit the hardest, Mr. Brown said.
The college would lose at least $55 million, more than 80 percent of its state funding.

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