- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2007


Metro weighs free SmarTrip cards

Metro is working to develop a plan to distribute a limited number of free SmarTrip cards to needy passengers.

The possibility comes as the transit agency considers getting rid of paper slips that allow for free bus-to-bus transfers and discounted rail-to-bus transfers. Metro spends about $345,000 a year on paper transfers.

Free and discounted transfers would still exist for passengers who use the rechargeable plastic SmarTrip cards, which cost $5.

Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said the agency is considering distributing free SmarTrip cards to needy riders so they will not be disproportionately affected by the plan to eliminate paper slips.

She said Metro is considering working with social-service agencies to distribute the cards.



Franchot eyes better tax enforcement

Comptroller Peter Franchot said he plans to recoup $200 million in lost tax revenue through improved tax enforcement.

Mr. Franchot, a Democrat and the state’s chief tax collector, said his plan would improve tax collections by using better technology and increasing staff.

“In light of the state’s structural deficit, it is more critical than ever that we pursue those taxpayers who are not paying their fair share,” Mr. Franchot wrote in a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget secretary, T. Eloise Foster.

Mr. Franchot’s request is being considered by the governor, but is unlikely to succeed because of the state’s continuing budget crisis, an O’Malley spokesman said yesterday.

“The budget secretary has received the comptroller’s request to increase his budget as part of his office’s routine budget submission,” said Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Mr. O’Malley. “Given the state’s budget deficit, we’re all faced with the challenge of doing more with the same or less resources.”


Man gets four years in fatal accident

A Salisbury man convicted of killing a father while driving drunk and on drugs has been ordered to serve four years behind bars.

The prison time is part of an eight-year suspended sentence handed down for Robert Chance, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter this summer.

Authorities said the two-vehicle crash 10 months ago at Booth Street and Route 50 trapped Mark Jones in his burning car as his 14-year-old son looked on. Mr. Jones died a few days later.

Chance’s blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. He also had used cocaine and marijuana.


Chairman charged in county theft

State police have charged the chairman of the Queen Anne’s County Fire Commission with felony theft and accused him of stealing more than $167,000 from the county.

Authorities said Ted Frederick Jackson used his position to order a variety of equipment for the county, but the items were never purchased.

An audit by county finance personnel found that Mr. Jackson reportedly made 14 orders for equipment between July 2006 and September of this year, including purchases of six tents, 15 trailers and 21 generators.

Mr. Jackson was arrested and released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.



Warner back in office, feeling fine

Sen. John W. Warner is out of the hospital after medical procedures this week to correct an abnormal heartbeat.

The 80-year-old Republican, who announced Aug. 31 he would not seek a sixth term next year, told the Associated Press yesterday he was back in his office and felt fine.

“They went in, got it straightened out. It took two days of processing. They run wires up you and work the electrical circuits of the heart,” Mr. Warner said in a telephone interview.

Speaking in a strong voice, Mr. Warner said he had mild occurrences of atrial fibrillation over the years.

“When they occurred, the physicians said ‘Don’t worry about it. Quite a few people in Congress have it,’ ” Mr. Warner said. It did not influence his decision to retire, he said.


City restricts water during drought

The city of Fairfax is restricting water because of a period of below-normal rainfall.

The hot and dry conditions prompted the city to announce the water conservation efforts Thursday, joining Loudoun County and others in the metropolitan Washington area.

Officials are asking residents to stop watering their lawns and gardens, not use hoses or sprinklers on large areas, or wash cars. They also are encouraging residents to conserve water in the house and watch out for leaks. Small areas can still be watered with watering cans.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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