- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

Prostitution arrests may lose priority

SAN FRANCISCO — Voters in the liberal bastion of Berkeley will vote in November on whether to allow prostitutes to go about their business with little fear of arrest.

A measure has qualified for the city’s November ballot that would make enforcing prostitution laws as low a priority for police as arresting marijuana smokers, the measure’s organizers said.

If voters approve the measure, the Berkeley City Council also would be required to lobby for a statewide repeal of prostitution laws.

Robyn Few, a former prostitute and founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, said that enforcing the current law wastes tax dollars. “The money can be better spent in helping women than in entrapping people,” Miss Few said.

Worst schools to be replaced

CHICAGO — Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans to close the city’s worst-performing schools and replace most of them with charter and contract schools using private-sector money and ideas.

By 2010, more than 10 percent of the city’s schools would be re-created — one-third as charter schools, one third as independently operated contract schools and the remainder as smaller schools run by the district.

With the third-largest public school system in the nation, Chicago has almost 600 schools and more than 431,000 students. The changes already have begun at some schools.

“We must face the reality that, for schools that have consistently underperformed, it’s time to start over,” Mr. Daley said.

Businesses ordered to disclose slave ties

DETROIT — Contractors who want to do business with Detroit will have to disclose, under a new city ordinance, whether their companies profited from slavery.

Companies with slave ties would not be banned from city contracts, but any with a falsified slave history would have contracts voided.

Chicago and Los Angeles have enacted similar laws. Detroit’s ordinance says contractors must sign an affidavit divulging investments and income from the slave industry.

The largely symbolic law will take effect within seven days. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson has said volunteer lawyers are committed to researching companies.

Critics say only a few companies with slavery earnings still exist, and the ordinance just means more red tape for businesses.

Firefighters find station on fire

DALLAS — Firefighters in a Dallas suburb returned to their station to find a fire started by potatoes they left cooking on a stove, officials said Friday.

The fire caused about $125,000 in damages to the station in Lancaster, a southern suburb of Dallas, said Fire Marshal Ladis Barr.

The blaze was extinguished late Thursday night with the help of firefighters from other stations. It damaged the kitchen and living area.

Fire officials reminded the public to make sure not to leave food cooking before stepping out.

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