- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006



Ehrlich touts plusses in state education

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. took his re-election campaign to a charter school yesterday to contrast his education record with that of his Democratic challenger, Balti-more Mayor Martin O’Malley.

“We increased public-school spending $1.4 billion,” Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, told the crowd of sixth-graders from the KIPP Ujima Village Academy, one of 22 charter schools established through the governor’s 2003 charter-school law. “We put our money where our mouth is when we didn’t have a funding source, and we did it because of you.”

Mr. Ehrlich touted his record of fully funding the Thornton education plan to boost spending on poor school districts, enacting the state’s first charter-school law, spending $884 million on public school construction and having the state’s SAT scores rank highest in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In contrast, he cited Mr. O’Malley’s record of Baltimore high schools’ scoring the lowest in the state in core subjects, a federal court order for a state takeover of special education programs and a dropout rate three times the state average.

O’Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said it was “ridiculous” for the governor to criticize the city school system that the state and city jointly control.

“He should have worked for progress, instead of failing to fully fund Thornton and cutting school construction funding by $176 million,” Mr. Abbruzzese said.

The mayor faults Mr. Ehrlich for not delivering more school funding that was part of the Thornton formula beyond the legislative mandate.


Computer glitch affects prescriptions

A state Medicaid computer glitch that reportedly forced some low-income residents to pay for prescriptions out of pocket or forgo medications for several days has been fixed, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said yesterday.

The problem was resolved Tuesday evening, several hours after the agency learned of it, department spokesman John Hammond said.

The problem affected people covered by Maryland Physicians Care, which covers about 84,000 of the 490,000 people enrolled in the state’s managed-care welfare program.

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported yesterday that pharmacists in Washington County first noticed the problem Saturday. Two pharmacists told the newspaper that some people paid cash for their prescriptions and others left without medicine.

Jeff Gruel, director of the pharmacy program for the state, told the newspaper that prescription processing was hampered by “a breakdown in communication between computers.”


Judge hears testimony on Gansler challenge

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, broke off campaigning yesterday to rush to an Annapolis courtroom to testify in a lawsuit seeking to remove his name from the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

The suit filed by Nikos Stanford Liddy of Prince George’s County says Mr. Gansler has not met the constitutional standard that the state attorney general practice law in Maryland for at least 10 years before taking office.

The case centers on whether Mr. Gansler’s activities before he was elected state’s attorney eight years ago constitute practicing law in Maryland.

Mr. Gansler’s attorney argued that being a member of the bar and living in Maryland for 17 years met what she called an expansive definition of practicing law established by the Court of Appeals.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald Silkworth expressed concern about the potential effect of his ruling on the election and denied a motion to dismiss the suit. He said he will try to make a decision by the end of the week.


Woman sentenced for embezzlement

A Glen Burnie woman was sentenced yesterday for using her employer’s money to pay off personal debts.

Carol Ann Sprucebank, 50, will serve 2 years in prison and three years of supervised release. She was charged with mail fraud.

Sprucebank also must pay back more than $135,000, federal prosecutors said.

In her guilty plea, she said she entered her personal creditor information into the corporate accounting system. Then she would issue checks to her creditors with amounts less than $2,000 to avoid detection.

She issued at least 117 checks from 1998 to 2002.


Teen arrested in rape case

A Frederick teen was arrested yesterday and charged with raping a student at Tuscarora High School, authorities said.

Michael Smith, 17, followed the girl into a restroom Oct. 17 and assaulted her, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said. A school administrator called police to report that a girl had been assaulted at the school.

The Smith youth has been charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault.


Two men arrested as bear season ends

Hunters killed 41 black bears in the Western Maryland mountains during a two-day hunt in near-perfect conditions, the state’s top game manager said yesterday.

The Department of Natural Resources announced an end to the season Tuesday night after hunters had checked in enough bears to satisfy the agency’s objective of 35 to 55. Had the quota not been met, the hunt could have continued for up to four days.

Natural Resources Police arrested two Jessup men on charges of baiting black bears while hunting.

Police said they received an anonymous tip that Kendall Hayden, 51, and Frederick Wieland Jr., 42, were using bait while hunting.

Police said that when officers arrived, Mr. Hayden was hunting from a tree stand above an area covered in cookies and cakes. Police said the area was 40 feet by 50 feet.

Both men were issued citations Monday, and Mr. Hayden’s firearm was seized.


Guard pleads guilty in inmate sex scandal

One of three Cecil County jail guards accused in a sex scandal involving two female inmates has pleaded guilty to misconduct in office.

Bruce Bradwell, 53, of Newark, Del., entered the plea Friday. In an agreement with prosecutors, assault and sex-offense charges against Bradwell were dropped.

A co-defendant, Antoine Hill, 45, of Newark, is scheduled to go to trial in March. The third guard charged, Leon Alexander, 21, of Elkton, is scheduled for trial Dec. 19.

All three men were charged in May.


Man sentenced in fatal stabbing

An illegal alien who pleaded guilty in the fatal stabbing of his live-in girlfriend is headed to prison for 20 years.

Jose Amaya, 39, a native of El Salvador, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month and was sentenced Monday.

He stabbed Angela Holland seven times during a September 2005 argument at the couple’s apartment in the 1200 block of Thom Court. City police said Amaya was upset because another man talked to Miss Holland and because she would not give him money for beer.

Amaya apologized Tuesday to the woman’s family.



Grandmother pleads guilty to arson

A 72-year-old woman admitted hiring her teenage grandson and supplying the gas to torch her landlord’s house days after she received an eviction notice.

Nola Mae Williams paid the 15-year-old $150 for the job, prosecutors said. The Falmouth woman entered guilty pleas Tuesday to charges of arson, breaking and entering with the intent to commit arson, and criminal solicitation of a felony.

Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 2 in Stafford County Circuit Court. Williams was ordered jailed without bail until her sentencing.

The Nov. 25 fire caused more than $100,000 in damage. No one was injured.

The boy told authorities that Williams told him that the landlord was getting ready to sell the house and that she did not want him to make any money off it.

The grandson later aided in the investigation by helping authorities set up Williams in a phone sting.

Charges against the boy were handled in closed juvenile court proceedings.


Pit bull attacks man mowing grass

A Harrisonburg man said he was attacked by a pit bull — about a month after the dog’s owner faced charges in another attack.

James Berry, 43, did not suffer serious injuries when he was attacked Monday.

He said he was mowing the lawn at a church when he spotted the dog roaming through the street. Suddenly, the animal lunged at him, biting his arm through his jacket.

He was treated at a hospital and released.

The owner of the dog is Alvaro Olguin, 21, who could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Olguin recently was convicted of two misdemeanor vaccination violations and two counts of harboring unlicensed dogs related to a Sept. 19 attack on two women by several pit bulls.


Bald eagle released in Fairfax County

A bald eagle found sick last month in Kingstowne was returned to the wild yesterday.

Environmentalists at the Wildlife Center of Virginia were to release the bird in Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County.

They found the bird Sept. 25. X-rays showed that the bird had an enlarged heart and kidneys, as well as lung abnormalities.

Officials nursed the bird back to health.

The center released a juvenile bald eagle earlier last month after it was found malnourished in a family’s back yard. In that case, the center had to teach the bird how to fly.


VMI renovates but maintains tradition

Virginia Military Institute is modernizing its campus — but maintaining its old-school flavor.

A $300 million renovation will include upgrades to classrooms and the mess hall, including the addition of air conditioning, wireless technology in labs and changes to athletic fields.

But the spartan character of the barracks remains.

Cadets have to walk outside and down the hall to get to the bathrooms. Only senior cadets and junior cadets who have earned their class rings are allowed to have cell phones in their rooms.

As many as five or six cadets can live in one room, sleeping on fold-up wooden cots.

“Alumni would revolt if the place became a country club,” said Marshall Mundy, a member of the school’s board of visitors and a 1956 graduate.


Schools must end pre-10 a.m. lunches

High-school students who have been sitting down to lunch as early as 9:05 a.m. will eat at a more reasonable hour next school year.

The state Department of Education has told eight Vir-ginia Beach schools that start lunch before 10 a.m. will have to change their schedules next year. The department allowed the schools to continue to serve early lunches for the remainder of this school year.

Federal guidelines require school lunch to be served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The public schools requested a waiver last month because crowding and scheduling require some schools to serve lunch several hours before the traditional noon meal.

Some schools in Norfolk, Newport News and York County also have lunches before 10 a.m. Those school divisions have been waiting for state guidance on the rule, which is expected to come later this week.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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