- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2005

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp says she doesn’t care who owns the Washington Nationals — as long they live in Washington.

In a letter last week to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Mrs. Cropp said the Nationals’ eventual owners must be “vested in the District.”

She said she does not know of any plans for MLB to select owners who live outside of the District and sent the letter as a precaution.

“You keep hearing things,” she said.

Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat and mayoral candidate, nearly sank the District’s deal with MLB to bring the Nationals to town by her insistence on some private funding for building a baseball stadium in Southeast.

No charge

A Prince William County prosecutor has dismissed a felony election-fraud charge against Steve H. Chapman, a former candidate for the House of Delegates.

Mr. Chapman had said the charges brought against him in the heat of his primary challenge to a longtime incumbent were politically motivated.

His attorney, Gil Davis, said last week that the dismissal proves his client was right.

“Politics today can too often degenerate into campaigns of personal destruction,” said Mr. Davis, who represented Paula Jones in a sexual-harassment case against President Clinton.

Mr. Chapman challenged Delegate Harry J. Parrish in the Republican primary and was charged in May with lying on a voter-registration form in 2004.

He will stand trial in March on a misdemeanor charge of voting in a district in which he did not reside.

Mr. Chapman was convicted of allowing his dog to roam without a leash in August 2004. The charges were filed this spring, more than eight months after his dog had died. Because the dog had died, the judge did not require Mr. Chapman to pay a fine.

Few changes

D.C. mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty says his administration would look a lot like the current one.

Mr. Fenty, a Democrat who represents Ward 4 on the D.C. Council, told WTOP Radio last week that he would like to keep Robert C. Bobb on as city administrator.

He also wants Dan Tangherlini to remain the director of the Department of Transportation and Neil Albert to remain deputy mayor for children, youth, families and elders.

Mr. Bobb said he is honored that Mr. Fenty would want him to continue in the job. But until Mayor Anthony A. Williams makes a decision on whether he plans to seek another term, Mr. Bobb remains committed and loyal to him.

Mr. Fenty says he will wait until the mayor makes his decision before reaching out to anyone.

He and council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, are considered the front-runners for the job if Mr. Williams decides not to run next year.

Independent funds

Four years ago, hundreds of independents and Republicans dissatisfied with their party’s candidate for Virginia governor gave money to Democrat Mark Warner.

This year, many of those 396 donors financially support Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, some have gone back home to Republican Jerry W. Kilgore and some have given to inde-pendent H. Russell Potts Jr.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from state campaign-finance reports compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, 118 persons who contributed to the independent Virginians for Warner political action committee in 2001 have contributed about $775,000 to Mr. Kaine this year.

Forty-five former donors to Virginians for Warner have given almost $284,000 to Mr. Kilgore as of the latest campaign fundraising and spending reports filed with the State Board of Elections last week.

Just eight persons who gave to Virginians for Warner have given to Mr. Potts, but their gifts account for nearly $115,000 of the $909,000 he has raised.

No surprise

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, saying he has spent the past few months “laying the groundwork to run for governor,” is set to formally announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Mr. O’Malley discussed his plans with more than 100 supporters during a conference call last Monday, and his campaign followed up with word that he would “make a major announcement concerning the future of Maryland and his political future” this week.

Although Mr. O’Malley’s decision to challenge Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, was widely expected, his announcement this week will come earlier in the political cycle than many observers had expected.

It will bring the race into sharper focus and put a spotlight on Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who also is preparing to seek the Democratic nomination next year, although he has not made a formal announcement.

Mr. O’Malley, who was re-elected to a second term as mayor last year with 87 percent of the vote, has touted Baltimore’s “comeback” during recent appearances throughout the state.

He points to a drop in the city’s overall crime rate, rising test scores among younger children and renewed business and residential investments in Baltimore.

In April, Time magazine named Mr. O’Malley of one of the country’s five best big-city mayors.

But being mayor of a big city also provides Mr. O’Malley with some baggage as he ramps up for higher office.

The city’s homicide rate, though down since Mr. O’Malley took office in 1999, has not dropped as rapidly as he promised and remains higher than many municipalities of comparable size.

And other big-city mayors who have sought higher office across the country have often struggled to connect with rural and suburban voters.

Aides argue that Mr. O’Malley enters the race far better positioned than most.

The latest independent polling on the race, conducted in April for the Baltimore Sun, showed Mr. O’Malley beating Mr. Duncan in a primary contest and with a slight lead over Mr. Ehrlich in a general election matchup.

Primary results

Alderman Michael W. Fox has lost a bid for another term on the Annapolis City Council.

He was defeated last week in a Republican primary in Ward 7 by Laura Townsend, who isn’t expected to face a Democratic challenger in the November election.

In other races, incumbent Ward 3 Democrat Classie Gillis Hoyle defeated Michael Bowling in the Democratic primary and also faces no opposition in November.

In Ward 2, Debbie McKerrow defeated activist Joseph Simms in the Democratic primary, and Michael Christman won a three-way Republican primary.

In Ward 1, Democrat Richard Israel defeated Alice Johnson and will face Republican Douglas Burkhardt in November.

Talking traffic

Innovative thinking is needed if Virginia is to solve its traffic problems, the chairman of a public-private transportation panel said at the group’s first work session last week.

State Sen. Charles R. Hawkins, Pittsylvania Republican, said the state must look for revenue other than the gasoline tax to pay for highway projects because cars are getting better gas mileage, which means collections are not keeping pace with miles traveled.

“It’s going to require us to do some thinking outside the norms,” Mr. Hawkins told the newly formed Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force.

Mass transit should not be overlooked, he said.

“Northern Virginia is not facing a transportation problem. It’s facing a transportation crisis — and I’m not sure building more lane miles is going to solve it,” Mr. Hawkins said.

Ray Pethtel, a former Virginia Department of Transportation commissioner who now teaches at Virginia Tech, said motorists spent 2.5 million hours stuck in traffic in Virginia in 2003, costing $86 million in lost productivity and wasted fuel.

Mr. Hawkins, who also heads the Senate Finance Committee’s transportation subcommittee, said the task force will not merely compile a report for the General Assembly, but will recommend legislation.

Virginia has done nothing substantial for transportation since 1986, when Gov. Gerald L. Baliles called a special legislative session to pass sales, fuel and vehicle titling tax increases for road and rail initiatives.

Let people know

The Baltimore County Council is considering a measure designed to give the public more notice about development decisions.

The bill would require the county to post on the government Web site notices of requests for waivers from certain county requirements and the outcomes of those requests.

The waivers could involve county rules on issues ranging from building height to how close a house can be built to a stream.

“You want folks to at least know what’s going on in their community,” council member Stephen Moxley told the Baltimore Sun. “Even if they don’t like what’s happening, at least they have a chance to be heard.”

The County Council will discuss the bill, and possibly vote on it, next month.

Council members said more residents in recent years have complained of houses being built on land that they thought was off-limits to development.

Robert Redding Jr. and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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