- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

DISTRICT

City settles suit over parking meters

D.C. officials promised yesterday to make parking meters easier to use as part of a settlement of a lawsuit, filed in 2004, that said the city discriminated against people with disabilities.

The agreement requires the city to install, on each metered block, at least two parking meters that face the sidewalk and that are low enough for someone in a wheelchair. Also, each city block must have at least one curb ramp for wheelchairs. On city-owned sidewalks, uneven surfaces must be fixed and obstacles such as flower pots must be removed.

Russell Holt, one of the plaintiffs, said he was pleased.

“In the land of frivolous lawsuits, this is one that so many people are going to benefit from,” he said.

Mr. Holt, a disabled business owner from Boyds, said he frequently travels to the District for work and joined the lawsuit after growing frustrated with the seemingly endless search for a place to park.

“It’s tough to find a [parking] spot, and it’s even tougher to find a spot that’s accessible,” he said.

The Equal Rights Center, which represented some of the disabled residents in the lawsuit, said it is pleased with the settlement.

The lawsuit argued that city meters were impossible for some veterans to reach, and it demanded that the city recognize out-of-state handicapped parking placards rather than forcing visitors to apply for city permits.

Spurred by the lawsuit, the D.C. Council passed legislation earlier this month recognizing out-of-state handicapped parking permits.

Traci Hughes, a spokeswoman for D.C. Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti, said the city would present a plan for making the necessary changes within 90 days and would complete the changes over three years.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” she said.

MARYLAND

GAITHERSBURG

Residents threaten suit over day-laborer center

Gaithersburg residents yesterday threatened to sue the city and force a recall election of the City Council if members approve opening a day-laborer center in the historic downtown.

City officials held a meeting last night to discuss with residents two proposed sites for a center to help find work for 50 to 100 men who now loiter along the city’s main corridor. Many of the laborers are Hispanic illegal aliens.

One site is a home at 415 E. Diamond Ave. and the other is a city-owned parking lot behind the Shell gas station on Summit Avenue next to City Hall.

Some residents supported opening a center by winter. But the majority said they feared the center was too close to schools and homes, and would draw more illegal aliens to the area, boost crime and drive away customers from businesses.

Judicial Watch, a D.C.-based public interest law firm, yesterday issued a warning to city officials that the use of taxpayer money to help illegal aliens find work breaks federal law.

Judicial Watch has a lawsuit pending on the behalf of seven residents against Fairfax County and the town of Herndon, which has in part funded the opening of a center in December with taxpayer money.

Several residents and members of the Maryland Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group opposed to illegal border crossing, said they would team with the firm if it sues the city.

Herndon residents this year voted out members of the Herndon Town Council who supported the opening of the center.

TOWSON

No records found of abuse by teacher

Baltimore County officials have been unable to find records incriminating a private school teacher charged with sexually abusing a student decades ago.

Stanley Ashman, 60, is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl at his Baltimore home and at the Park School in the 1970s. He was arrested last month in Birmingham, Mich., where he had been teaching. He has since resigned.

The headmaster of the Park School issued a statement that said he learned about the accusations in 1997, met with Mr. Ashman and contacted social services officials. But Baltimore County police and social services officials said a search of records produced no evidence that they had received such a report.

Police said the abuse began in 1973, when the victim was in the ninth grade and Mr. Ashman was her teacher and student adviser at the Park School.

The purported victim told police that she came forward when she learned Mr. Ashman was teaching again.

BALTIMORE

Nine men indicted in drug ring

Nine men were indicted yesterday in a suspected cocaine and crack cocaine ring in Elkton.

The indictment, handed up by a Baltimore grand jury in May but announced yesterday, includes five men from Cecil County, two from Pennsylvania and one each from Delaware and Arizona.

Last year, Richard Harris, 30, of Philadelphia, admitted to giving cocaine and crack cocaine to distributors in Cecil County. The nine men are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine from 2004 to April 2006.

The defendants each face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole and a $4 million fine.

FREDERICK

Man arrested in Internet sex sting

A Frederick man is awaiting extradition to Florida, where he has been charged with soliciting lewd acts from a 14-year-old girl.

David Dantzic, 33, was arrested Monday during a police search at his home. Prosecutors said Mr. Dantzic promised to send the girl a Web camera to take pictures of herself performing sex acts. The girl was, in fact, an undercover detective working for the St. Lucie County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Dantzic is being held as a fugitive and is to be charged in Florida with solicitation over the Internet for purposes of child pornography.

FREDERICK

Official who struck son has charges dropped

Prosecutors have dropped all charges against a Thurmont town commissioner who was charged with striking his handcuffed, 13-year-old son after the boy was arrested on charges of smashing mailboxes with a baseball bat.

Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle said parents have the right under state law to use corporal punishment that is not excessive or unreasonable under the circumstances. He said Commissioner Ronald Terpko acted within his rights.

Mr. Terpko was charged in June with child abuse and second-degree assault. Authorities said he struck the boy in the presence of a sheriff’s deputy and a Thurmont police officer. Mr. Rolle dropped the child-abuse charge two weeks later while continuing to weigh the assault charges.

Mr. Rolle said the evidence indicates that the boy was slapped, as the Thurmont officer said, and not punched, as the deputy contended.

VIRGINIA

West Nile virus found in mosquitoes

Health authorities in Alexandria and Prince William County said yesterday that more mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The pools are in the eastern and western sections of the county.

Health officials routinely monitor for mosquitoes infected with the virus.

Fairfax and Arlington officials also have reported mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus often is spread by a mosquito that has fed on infected birds. Most people who are infected won’t become ill. But those older than 50 or whose immune systems are compromised are at risk of developing a more severe disease involving the neurological system.

NORFOLK

Officer fatally shoots man on Navy base

A city police officer responding to a domestic-disturbance complaint early yesterday fatally shot a man in the Willoughby housing area of the Norfolk Naval Station, police said.

Norfolk police said the officer responded to a home at 1:28 a.m. and was confronted by an armed man. The officer fired a single round, striking the man.

The man was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The man was a sailor, said Cynthia Wells, a spokeswoman with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center at Norfolk Naval Station. His identity was being withheld pending notification of his family, she said.

The officer who shot the sailor will be placed on administrative duty pending an investigation, said Cpl. Ollan Burruss, a police spokesman.

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Drug raid yields $4.8 million in pot

Albemarle County police seized $4.8 million in marijuana plants from a house outside Scottsville on Monday, the largest such raid authorities could recall in two decades.

State and local police uprooted more than 4,000 marijuana plants ranging in size from tiny seedlings to 9-foot stalks.

Gary Peck, 51, was charged with manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute and a firearms infraction.

About 20 officers spent 12 hours Monday pulling the plants from a bamboo-surrounded patch near the house.

Police would not say what led them to the house, citing an ongoing investigation.

CHARLOTTESVILLE

UVa. dean to retire after drug link arises

The University of Virginia’s dean of African-American affairs, M. Rick Turner, said yesterday that he plans to retire at the end of the month.

Mr. Turner, who served as dean of African-American affairs since 1988, stepped down after he was linked to a drug case.

University officials placed Mr. Turner on administrative leave earlier this month after learning of an agreement he signed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville. Under the agreement, Mr. Turner admitted that he had lied about knowledge of the activities of a known drug dealer. Mr. Turner agreed to 12 months’ probation and might be called to testify in future court hearings.

Mr. Turner, 65, was a vocal supporter of diversity at the sometimes racially charged campus. During his tenure, the university attracted increasing numbers of black students and maintained one of the highest black graduation rates among the nation’s universities — 86 percent, compared with 42 percent nationally.

University spokeswoman Carol Wood said it was Mr. Turner’s decision to retire. She declined to discuss Mr. Turner’s court agreement and whether it was a factor.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide