- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004


Mayor fires cousin over truck scandal

CHICAGO — Declaring there “are no sacred cows in my administration,” Mayor Richard M. Daley fired one of his cousins yesterday for his role in a scandal involving $40 million a year paid to politically connected trucking companies, some with mob ties.

Mark Gyrion, fired from a Water Department job, was the third city official to lose his job in the burgeoning scandal over the no-bids Hired Truck Program, now under investigation by federal prosecutors. The first was Angelo Torres, the former head of the truck program, who is charged with extortion. Last week, William Abolt resigned under pressure as city budget director.

The scandal erupted last month when a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found that some of the trucking companies hired by the city did little or no work but got paid while city-owned trucks stood idle.

Mr. Gyrion’s mother-in-law, Naomi Baker, owned one of the trucking companies.


Teacher shot at high school

EAST GREENBUSH — A teacher was slightly wounded yesterday by a student who fired three blasts from a shotgun in the hallway of a suburban Albany high school, authorities said. The student and a second person were taken into custody.

An assistant principal grabbed the gunman and held him until police arrived at Columbia High School.

Special-education teacher Michael Bennett was treated at a hospital and released.

Police did not immediately disclose a motive for the shooting, which sent fear through the school. Students were kept in their classrooms and then sent home early. Many used cell phones to share word of the shooting with classmates.


Escapee caught buying bolt cutter

MAGNOLIA — James Cotton looked just like any other Wal-Mart customer buying a bolt cutter at 4:30 a.m. Saturday — until the cashier noticed that Mr. Cotton was wearing handcuffs.

Police said the clerk took Mr. Cotton’s money, gave him the bolt cutter, then called officers. Mr. Cotton was caught minutes later, after he had gone into the bathroom and cut off the handcuffs.

Mr. Cotton had been arrested the previous night by the Haynesville, La., police on charges of battery and possession of a narcotic, but he kicked out a window in a police car and fled, authorities said.


CDC says seniors face drug dangers

ATLANTA — Dangerous drugs were prescribed to senior Americans in about one out of every 12 visits to the doctor in 2000, federal officials said.

The findings show no improvement since the last study of the problem in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Researchers do not know why the wrong drugs are being given. Among the reasons cited in federal studies are poor medical training for treating seniors, lack of coordination between doctors and pharmacists and failure to give patients proper drug information.


Workers strike concrete companies

HONOLULU — Strikes at Oahu’s two major concrete producers have halted numerous construction projects.

Negotiators for Ameron and Hawaiian Cement and Hawaii Teamsters Local 996 met over the weekend but reached no agreement. The Ameron strike began Friday and the one at Hawaiian Cement began Saturday.


Thieves steal sink from site

DES MOINES — Thieves have been known to steal everything from construction sites but the kitchen sink. Last week, that changed.

Police said burglars on Wednesday took a stainless steel sink with a chrome faucet and the attached garbage disposal from a house under construction.

Steve Staub, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, said construction sites are being looted more often.


Booster-seat law targeted for boost

TOPEKA — Legislation being considered by a state Senate committee requires children 8 and younger who weigh less than 80 pounds to use a booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle. The bill also requires children ages 8 to 18 to wear a seat belt in the front or back seat.

Under current law, children younger than 4 must use a booster seat.


Patton’s ex-mistress gets probation

LEXINGTON — The one-time mistress of former Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton was sentenced yesterday to two years of probation for mail fraud by a judge who refused her request to withdraw her guilty plea.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood said in rejecting Tina Conner’s request that he thoroughly questioned her in October about whether she knew what she was doing in pleading guilty.

Conner was indicted last year on a single mail-fraud charge arising from her application to the state for special status as a government contractor. The essence of the charge was that she falsely claimed that she was running a construction business, when in fact it was run by her husband at the time, Seth Conner.


Man gets 60 days for killing neighbor

BELFAST — Donald Mooney, who fatally shot a neighbor in a struggle to keep him from the family he was abusing, will spend 60 days in jail, a judge ruled.

Court documents show that Daniel Walsh’s wife came to Mooney for help after Mr. Walsh began chasing their children and hitting at least one of them with his fists.

Mooney received a two-year jail sentence with all but 60 days suspended.


Minority applications decline at university

ANN ARBOR — Seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the University of Michigan’s undergraduate affirmative action policy, the number of applications from blacks, Hispanics and American Indians is down 23 percent from the same time last year.

The number of those minorities admitted is down 30 percent. Overall, the number of applications for this fall’s incoming freshman class is down 18 percent.

Officials said the figures are only preliminary and thousands more applications will continue to be reviewed in a process that the school hopes to finish by the first week of April. The application deadline was Feb. 1.


Pastor sports punk hairstyle

ST. LOUIS — Church services at Bayless Baptist Church were more than a little hair-raising over the weekend.

The Rev. Ron Shrum sported hair that was spiked, and dyed red and blue.

To Mr. Shrum, 65, it was a small price to pay for keeping his word to the church’s children, making good on a promise to relinquish control of his locks if more than 400 people attended Sunday school a week earlier. 409 turned out.

So early Sunday morning, Nathan Beck, 15, and his sister, Caitlin, 17, played hairdresser on Mr. Shrum and went with the “liberty spikes” look — one side of the head bright red, the other blue.


Bus wreck injures 17

WOOD RIVER — A Greyhound bus veered off an icy highway and rolled into a ditch yesterday morning after the driver swerved to avoid hitting a jackknifed tractor-trailer rig, sending 17 persons to hospitals, authorities said.

One passenger was in critical condition. The bus, carrying 27 passengers and a driver, was traveling Interstate 80 from Omaha, Neb., to Cheyenne, Wyo., said a Greyhound spokeswoman.


Utility faces probe in family’s deaths

LAS VEGAS — State officials will review the actions of Nevada Power Co. in a case involving three family members who died of carbon-monoxide poisoning after setting up a gas-powered generator.

The state Public Utilities Commission will determine whether Nevada Power followed state-mandated procedures in notifying the family that its power was about to be cut off. The family resorted to a generator after electricity was shut off.


Governor reports for jury duty again

BRENTWOOD — Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican, was picked yesterday to serve on a jury in Rockingham County Superior Court — three days after he was dismissed from another case.

Like all jurors, Mr. Benson must report for the jury pool every Monday for four weeks. His new case, a criminal trial, starts today.


Anthrax eliminated from postal facility

HAMILTON — Fumigation has eliminated all traces of anthrax from a mail-processing center that handled at least four tainted letters in 2001, officials said yesterday.

The building should reopen by the end of the year, perhaps as early as this summer, said Thomas G. Day, vice president of engineering for the Postal Service. He estimated the cleanup cost at $80 million.


Graham schedules Rose Bowl crusade

RALEIGH — Fresh out of the hospital after breaking his hip, the Rev. Billy Graham yesterday announced plans for a summer crusade in Southern California.

Mr. Graham was released from a hospital Feb. 2 after breaking his hip Jan. 6 in a Jacksonville, Fla., hotel room.

“It is overwhelming to receive an invitation to once again come to Southern California to proclaim the Gospel,” Mr. Graham said in a news release. “I never dreamed I would still be preaching at the age of 85.”

The crusade is scheduled for July 29 to Aug. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.


Activists force vote on rights measure

CINCINNATI — Activists said yesterday they have gathered enough signatures to ask voters in November to repeal a 1993 city charter amendment that made Cincinnati the only U.S. city to ban the enactment or enforcement of homosexual-rights laws.

The group Citizens to Restore Fairness contends the amendment, approved by 62 percent of city voters, denies homosexuals protection against discrimination. The group said it has collected about 13,000 signatures, more than double the number required to put the repeal issue on the ballot.


Homeless man charged in attack

PHILADELPHIA — A homeless man has been charged with sexually assaulting and critically injuring an 8-year-old girl in the bathroom of a library near Independence Hall, police said.

Brian McCutcheon, 23, was arrested Sunday after he reportedly told a friend about the attack and the friend notified police. He was charged with attempted murder, rape and aggravated assault.

The girl, who had been visiting the library with her grandmother, was attacked in a bathroom Saturday afternoon, authorities said. She was found unconscious, wedged between the toilet and the wall.

The victim remained in critical condition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia yesterday.


Body ordered exhumed for lawsuit

SAN ANTONIO — A state judge ordered the exhumation of the body of John Kenedy Jr., a South Texas rancher, to resolve a paternity lawsuit. Mr. Kenedy died in 1948 with no known heir. The lawsuit claims Mr. Kenedy fathered Ann Fernandez, mother of Nueces County medical examiner Ray Fernandez.

Two charitable organizations manage the Kenedy family’s assets, which are valued at between $500 million and $1 billion.


Bill would limit execution days

SALT LAKE CITY — The state Senate passed a bill that bans executions on Sundays, Mondays or holidays.

The state Department of Corrections requested the bill, which would save the state from paying overtime to officers involved in the executions, corrections spokesman Jack Ford said. Preparation for a Monday execution takes most of Sunday. The bill now goes to the House.


Husband, wife both win lottery

PARKERSBURG —Unbeknownst to each other, Richard and Lois Thomas each bought winning tickets from the Kompak King convenience store for Thursday night’s West Virginia Lottery Cash 25 drawing.

Mr. Thomas, 66, and Mrs. Thomas, 65, played the same set of numbers, based on family birthdays, on tickets purchased at different times.

Each won $25,000. They plan use the money to pay off bills.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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