- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2003

CALIFORNIA

Grocery clerks set to strike

ANAHEIM — More than 70,000 Southern California grocery clerks overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from three supermarket chains, setting the stage for a strike yesterday.

A last-ditch attempt by a federal mediator to broker a compromise between the United Food and Commercial Workers union and negotiators from the chains — Kroger Co.’s Ralphs, Safeway Inc.’s Vons and Albertsons Inc. — remained the only possible means of averting a strike.

The union planned to target one of the three supermarket chains and to ask the companies not to lock out workers from the other two. The union had not yet revealed which chain would be targeted

After weeks of negotiating, both sides were still at odds over several key issues, especially proposed changes by the companies to the scope and cost of employees’ health care coverage.

The chains, which control 60 percent of the Southern California market, operate nearly 900 stores from San Luis Obispo to San Diego with employees covered by the union. The most recent strike by the grocery workers, in 1978, lasted less than a week.

KENTUCKY

Ex-governor collapses during speech

LEXINGTON — Former Kentucky Gov. Edward T. “Ned” Breathitt was in critical condition at a hospital yesterday after he collapsed during a speech at the University of Kentucky.

Mr. Breathitt, 78, was admitted to the intensive care unit of UK Medical Center.

According to a statement from his cardiologist, Dr. John Gurley, there was no evidence that Mr. Breathitt suffered a heart attack, head injury or a stroke. The former governor was unconscious and on a ventilator, he said.

Mr. Breathitt, a Democrat, is credited with supporting civil rights, strip-mining regulations and campaign finance legislation and boosting the state’s education budget. He was governor from 1963 to 1967 and also served three terms in the legislature.

NEW MEXICO

Billy the Kid controversy continues

ALBUQUERQUE — Was Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881, or did he escape to Texas and die nearly 70 years later? Authorities hope a court will help them find out.

Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan, Deputy Sheriff Steve Sederwall and De Baca County Sheriff Gary Graves filed a petition Friday asking for a court order to exhume the Kid’s mother, Catherine Antrim.

DNA testing is supposed to show whether Mrs. Antrim, buried in Silver City, was related to Ollie L. “Brushy Bill” Roberts, who died in 1950 in Hico, Texas, and who claimed he was Billy the Kid.

“You know, Texas already gets our water, they’re not getting our guy. He’s from Silver City,” said Sherry Tippett, an attorney representing Lincoln and De Baca county authorities.

Legend has it that Mr. Garrett tracked down Billy the Kid, aka William H. Bonney, and killed him after the outlaw escaped from the Lincoln County Jail. Billy the Kid’s remains are believed to be buried at Fort Sumner.

A state forensic anthropologist is confident Mrs. Antrim’s remains can be exhumed without disturbing other graves, according to the court petition. Barring any legal troubles, authorities hope to begin exhumation by mid-November.

TEXAS

Ex-priest pleads guilty to sexual assault

TYLER — A former priest who fled to South America to avoid trial for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old altar girl pleaded guilty Friday in the case.

Gustavo DeJesus Cuello, 40, was accused of having sex with the girl repeatedly between June 1996 and January 1997 — including before choir practice and Sunday services. Cuello could receive life in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child after his sentencing trial, set to begin Oct. 20.

A former priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Tyler, Cuello fled East Texas while free on bond. He was married and working in the private sector when he was recaptured in Ecuador in July.

The victim, now 21, testified that Cuello convinced her she was willed to him by God and told her that her parents did not love her.

“He said if I said something, he would kill my father,” the victim recalled.

UTAH

Trib deadline passes without deal

SALT LAKE CITY — Former owners of the Salt Lake Tribune said they will ask an appeals court to scale down the paper’s disputed appraisal after skipping a deadline in their attempt to buy back Utah’s largest daily.

A judge had given Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Co. until 8 p.m. MDT Friday to hand over $355.5 million to MediaNews Group Inc. in exchange for the Tribune. No attempt was made to pay the newspaper’s asking price by the time the deadline passed.

“It’s over,” Tribune publisher Dean Singleton said. “The day we have been waiting for has arrived.”

Mr. Singleton said lawyers for Tribune Publishing — the ousted management group led by Salt Lake City’s McCarthey family — contacted MediaNews Group on Friday to say the option to purchase the paper before the deadline would expire without a deal. He said the passing of the deadline Friday should end the dispute.

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart ordered Tribune Publishing to pay the money by Friday night or lose its option to regain the newspaper it sold in 1997.

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