- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006


Gallaudet students graduate amid protest

It was a relatively calm graduation at Gallaudet University yesterday as students, faculty and alumni thanked the outgoing president for his 18 years of service, even as protests against his replacement continued.

I. King Jordan received a standing ovation at yesterday’s ceremony, while his replacement, Jane K. Fernandes, wasn’t mentioned by name.

Some students wore navy shirts that say “Unity for Gallaudet.”

Protesters hope Mrs. Fernandes will resign as leader of the nation’s only liberal-arts college for the deaf or that the board will reopen the search process.

Both Mrs. Fernandes and the board have said neither will happen.



Emergency motion filed by PSC

The Maryland Public Service Commission yesterday filed an emergency motion in the Court of Special Appeal to lift the court order banning publicity about a plan to phase in a 72 percent increase in Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. energy bills.

“The commission appealed the court’s decision because of the harm that is occurring and will continue to occur to all BGE customers who will not be able to receive timely information about ways to mitigate their electricity costs,” said Kenneth D. Schisler, chairman of the utility-regulating PSC.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Albert J. Matricciani ruled Wednesday in favor of Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s lawsuit seeking a gag order on BGE and a review of the phase-in plan.

A hearing to review the plan has been scheduled for May 30.

“It is unbelievable that the Public Service Commission is fighting against taxpayers [and] using taxpayers’ dollars to defend BGE’s 72 percent rate increase,” O’Malley spokesman Stephen J. Kearney said.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democratic candidate for governor, wants the judge to not only nullify the phase-in plan approved last month by the PSC, but also to force the commission to reconsider the entire rate increase, due to take effect July 1.


School buses collide on field trip

Two school buses heading to an amusement park collided yesterday morning, sending more than 20 students to the hospital.

Police and school officials say there were no serious injuries and that the students were taken to the hospital only as a precaution.

Police say one of the bus drivers — Lee Evans, 75 — was cited with negligent driving and failing to stop in time.

The buses were traveling from nearby Anne Arundel County to the Six Flags amusement park in Largo.

School officials initially said all 66 students were being taken to the hospital as a precaution, but some parents had picked their children up before they were admitted for treatment.


Teens accused of arson

A pair of teenagers charged with arson apparently helped fire investigators capture them by bragging about setting the fires on the Internet.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Thomas Carr says the 17-year-olds posted photos of the fires they set on www.myspace.com.

They’re accused of setting 17 fires between January and last month, including one involving buses that belonged to the French International School.

Chief Carr says the teens knew each other from school and set the fires between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. in Rockville’s Twinbrook neighborhood.

The teens faces 22 charges apiece, including first- and second-degree arson and malicious burning.



‘Caboose budget’ sent to governor

A budget that makes final funding adjustments and allows the state to close its books on the nearly expired current budget won final legislative approval yesterday.

The Senate unanimously approved the so-called 2006 caboose budget, sending it to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, for consideration.

He has a week to offer vetoes or amendments for the General Assembly to consider.

The most contentious issue in the caboose budget adjustment — whether to expand a new detention center for sexually violent predators whose prison terms have ended — was deferred into the still-unresolved 2007-2008 budget.

Unless lawmakers end their longest-ever budget impasse, the state faces a constitutional crisis and at least a partial government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins July 1.


Senate panel OKs amendment explainer

Opponents of the proposed state constitutional same-sex “marriage” ban failed yesterday in a second bid to have lawmakers alter what they say is a biased official explanation of it.

The Senate Privileges and Election Committee voted 9-5 for the same wording the House Privileges and Elections Committee endorsed on Wednesday.

Opponents argued that the official state summary of the measure that will be before voters statewide this fall misleads voters.

They say the wording discounts the threat the amendment would pose to the right of two persons to enter into personal contracts if it becomes part of the constitution.

The amendment would write into the constitution existing legal bans against marriage or civil unions by two persons of the same sex in Virginia.

It would also ban civil unions or any legal arrangements intended to approximate marriage.


Weather service confirms 3 tornadoes

Three tornadoes touched down in the Fredericksburg area Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed yesterday.

Damage was mostly to trees.

All three twisters registered F-Zero on the Fujita Scale, which means wind speeds were 40 to 72 mph.

The first tornado touched down near Mastins Corner about 5:35 p.m.

Just before 6 p.m., the same system spawned a second tornado in the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park. It was about 50 yards wide and traveled on the ground for about a mile.

A third and smaller tornado from the same storm system traveled across Interstate 95 just north of the Route 17 Interchange at 6:15 p.m. Its path was estimated to be about 300 yards long and it was 50 yards wide. Tree damage could be seen on both sides of the highway.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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