- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006



Schaefer says he’s running again

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said yesterday he will seek a third term, but his apparently accidental announcement went almost unnoticed amid his criticism of pro-immigration protests.

“People come in, take our jobs, our social services, our health benefits, all the things we are paying for … and then they are unhappy with our county,” Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, said at a meeting of the Board of Public Works.

“They hold a big rally [with] thousands and thousands of people?” he said of demonstrations across the country Monday to protest proposed immigration reforms. “I guess we are supposed to open up the gates and let everybody in across the borders to take the jobs [and] the social services.”

“How dare anybody speak out,” said Mr. Schaefer, whose 50-year political career includes two terms as governor and four as Baltimore mayor. “The proper thing to do if you are running for office, and I am, is to keep quiet. [But] somebody has to open their mouth and say something about it.”

Mr. Schaefer, 84, is facing a primary challenge by Delegate Peter V.R. Franchot, Montgomery Democrat.


UMd. student charged in 2005 fatal fire

A University of Maryland student has been charged with murder in a fire a year ago that killed another student, Prince George’s County police said yesterday.

Daniel Murray, 20, was arrested without incident on the College Park campus, police said. He has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and other charges. His bail status could not be determined last night, nor was it known if he had a lawyer.

Mr. Murray was charged in the April 30, 2005, fire that killed Michael Anthony Scrocca, 22, of Somerville, N.J., in a house seven students were renting in the 7500 block of Princeton Avenue. The blaze broke out early that morning, and firefighters found Mr. Scrocca in a second-floor bedroom. He died at Prince George’s Hospital Center.

Stephen Aarons, 21, escaped by jumping from a second-floor window and was taken to a hospital with critical burns. He has since recovered but still must wear a protective sleeve on his left arm.

The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage to the 2-story house.

The fire was ruled an arson after investigators discovered a gas can on the patio, then failing to find anyone to explain why it was there.


Teen accused of counterfeiting

A 14-year-old middle school student has been charged with counterfeiting after trying to use a fake $20 bill to buy lunch, Anne Arundel County authorities said.

It is the third time in as many months that counterfeit money was used in county schools.

The boy was charged with manufacturing and possessing counterfeit U.S. currency after he gave a bogus $20 bill to another student and asked him to get change in the cafeteria at Wiley H. Bates Middle School.

The cashier noticed the bill was fake and called police.

The boy, who was released to his parents, likely will get community service.

Police said the U.S. Secret Service has been notified.

Charges also are pending against another student who reportedly had some of the fake bills.



Mayor resigns after fraud conviction

Lynchburg Mayor Carl B. Hutcherson Jr. resigned from the city council yesterday, one day after a federal jury in Roanoke convicted him of fraud.

Hutcherson was convicted Tuesday of stealing from his church’s charity to pay back taxes and another debt and taking money from two disabled Social Security recipients for whom he received benefits.

Hutcherson, 62, a Methodist minister, was flanked by his son and daughter as he announced his resignation at City Hall.

“As difficult as this is for me and my family, I respect the jury’s verdict and I accept my own responsibility in these matters,” he said.

Vice Mayor Joan Foster will take over as mayor at least until June 30, when the newly elected council members will take office. Hutcherson was elected mayor by fellow council members.

Virginia United Methodist Church Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer said Hutcherson’s position as pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church is “being reviewed.”

Hutcherson had stepped down temporarily as pastor of the Lynchburg church after his indictment Dec. 1 on charges of fraud, lying to bank and federal officials and obstruction of justice.

No date has been set for his sentencing.


Godspeed replica leaves boatyard

A newly built replica of the largest of three boats to bring settlers to what is now Jamestown departed a Maine boatyard yesterday.

The 65-foot Godspeed will embark on a promotional tour of six East Coast ports before arriving in Jamestown to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America.

Jamestown was settled in 1607, the same year that English colonists arrived at Popham, Maine. The Popham colonists abandoned their settlement, but the Jamestown settlers persevered. They arrived 13 years before the Pilgrims.

The Godspeed was built at Rockport Marine. Another ship used by the Jamestown colonists — the Discovery — is being built at Boothbay Harbor in Maine. It is expected to be completed later this year.

Church court denies gay member review

The highest court in the United Methodist Church has refused to reconsider its earlier decision allowing a Virginia minister to deny church membership to a homosexual.

In a 5-4 ruling released Tuesday, the Judicial Council in Nashville, Tenn., said there was no basis to revisit the case.

“We believe that reopening this matter, especially where no grounds have been demonstrated to do so, will further polarize the various parts of the church,” the majority wrote.

In October, the church court reinstated the Rev. Ed Johnson after Virginia church leaders put him on involuntary leave as senior pastor of South Hill United Methodist Church south of Richmond.

The Virginia leaders had said Mr. Johnson’s actions violated the denomination’s pledge of openness to anyone seeking Christ.

But the church court said pastors have the right to decide who joins their congregations.

Several church groups appealed the decision, prompting Tuesday’s ruling.

Dissenting council members called the majority opinion “legally flawed” and “imprudent.”

They said there is no basis in Christian theology or in the church’s disciplinary rules allowing a pastor to deny membership to anyone.

“Determining who is eligible for life in the church is not the vocation of the pastor,” they wrote. “It is the Holy Spirit who makes us members of the church.”


Terrorism response questioned by officials

Local officials and business leaders warned yesterday that the region’s ability to respond to terrorism remains limited, and that multiple attacks occurring simultaneously could quickly strain state and local government agencies.

At a conference in the District, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, specialists said they remain particularly concerned about widespread chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents.

“The complexities surrounding decontamination, and some of the panic that might be associated with it, are worrisome scenarios,” said Edward D. Reiskin, the D.C. deputy mayor in charge of public safety.

He and others urged better coordination between the government and private sector, including the completion of a list of priority facilities that warrant better protection. They also called for tax incentives to help businesses cover the costs of security upgrades.

“The federal government must be willing and able to enlist the private sector and provide leadership,” said Stephen E. Flynn, the co-author of “Neglected Defense,” a 50-page report commissioned by the Council on Foreign Relations.

It outlines steps to accomplish those goals, including holding government officials accountable when essential information is not shared adequately with business leaders.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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