- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006


AU trustees adopt whistleblower policy

The board of trustees at American University has adopted a whistleblower policy.

The change ensures that there won’t be retaliation against whistleblowers making “good faith” complaints.

The university has continued to adopt reforms after a spending scandal involving then-President Benjamin Ladner.

An anonymous letter prompted an audit, which questioned Mr. Ladner’s use of university money and eventually led to his removal.

The board also has adopted a policy that requires trustees to disclose a potential conflict of interest when the university is considering a business relationship.

Council, advocates hit shelter lease

Some D.C. Council members and homeless advocates are questioning the city’s plans to put a developer in control of a former school building now being used as a homeless shelter.

Plans call for the former Franklin School at 13th and K streets in Northwest to be turned into a hotel and private club.

The building currently houses 300 homeless men, but city officials say there are no immediate plans to move anyone out.

They hope to relocate the residents by the end of March.

Some council members say they never approved plans to lease the building to Western Development Co.

But the D.C. Attorney General’s Office says the council gave “passive approval” by failing to act on Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ request.



Klan stages rally at Civil War battlefield

Members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white-supremacist groups rallied yesterday at the Antietam National Battlefield, the first time a group has been given permission to demonstrate at the site of the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

About 30 people, some attired in the Klan’s white robes and others wearing the military-style clothing and swastika armbands of the National Socialist Movement of America, stood next to a farmhouse on the battlefield.

Some delivered speeches attacking immigrants, blacks and other minority groups.

About 200 officers from the National Park Service, U.S. Park Police, Maryland State Police and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office were present to make sure the demonstration remained peaceful and to act as a buffer between the Klan and counterdemonstrators, who were kept about 200 feet away.

The demonstration was thought to be the first at the park, which was established as a national park in 1890, said Superintendent John Howard.

About 90 permits are issued each year, but most are for more mundane events, like weddings and road races, he said.


Homicides fall below 2005’s pace

Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm is noting a decline in homicides.

On Thursday, for the first time this year, the number of slayings in the city was smaller than at the same time last year — 115, compared with 117.

In late April, there had been 12 more homicides than in late April 2005, and violent crime was up 13 percent.

Commissioner Hamm says the violent-crime numbers are almost even now.

One of the biggest decreases over the past two months was in the Northern District.

Commissioner Hamm credits increased communication between police and residents, along with initiatives the department has started.

Thirty officers have been shifted from desk duty to street patrol, and additional officers are being sent to patrol neighborhoods by foot Friday nights.



Coroner says remains are those of hiker

Remains discovered in a California canyon have been identified as those of a missing Petersburg hiker.

After the June 4 discovery, authorities said the remains were likely those of John Donovan, 60, who disappeared last year.

The Riverside County, Calif., coroner’s office has now made a positive identification.

The remains were found near Mr. Donovan’s backpack, which was discovered last month by two hikers who credited the pack’s contents for saving their lives.

Authorities and volunteers searched the Tahquitz Canyon west of Palm Springs, Calif., for signs of Mr. Donovan, a retired social worker from Central State Hospital.

The remains were found near a campsite.

Two hikers from Texas found Mr. Donovan’s backpack and used the matches inside to light a fire that alerted rescuers to their location. They also used clothes in the bag to stay warm.


Prosecutor finds son with gambling suspects

A special prosecutor looking into illegal gambling operations in this coal town discovered that his own son is one of the suspected gamblers.

Tim McAfee said he learned about son Dylan’s involvement from a gambling operator.

“He said, ‘You need to let me go or I’ll tell about your son,’” Mr. McAfee said.

Mr. McAfee, who says he never intended to prosecute patrons, confronted his 25-year-old son, who acknowledged his participation.

“I just did it for fun and did it very briefly,” Dylan McAfee said Friday.

As for his father’s discovery, he said: “I guess I kind of expected it.”

The gambling probe emerged from an investigation into local election fraud.

Also Friday, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chad Dotson said he would probably take over the gambling prosecution while Tim McAfee would continue the election investigation.

Mr. Dotson said the move would not be related to Tim McAfee’s son.


Scallop fishing area to reopen soon

An environmental group is considering whether to challenge the federal government’s plan to reopen a large fishing ground off the Mid-Atlantic coast for sea scallops.

The National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday announced plans to open the productive ground to fishers effective January 2007, which would provide significant opportunities for the industry and merchants in the Hampton Roads area.

Sea scallops are worth about $7 per pound on today’s markets.

The fishing ground, however, would close again each fall to protect sea turtles from being killed by powerful dredges used to gather scallops from the ocean’s bottom.

Conservation groups praised the federal government for helping turtles, but said the protections don’t go far enough.

David Allison, campaign director for District-based Oceana, said Friday the environmental group was still deciding whether to fight the federal plan in court.

Oceana has sued the government before over its lack of turtle protections, but has not managed to win in court, he said.

Known as the Elephant Trunk for its shape on the ocean’s floor, the approximately 1,000-square-mile fishing ground is located about 50 miles off the Maryland and Delaware coasts.

It has been closed for the past three years so baby scallops could grow and spawn.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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