- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007


Vote planned for D.C. rights

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has planned a vote that would allow the Senate to begin debating a bill granting the District congressional voting rights.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, planned a procedural vote for Tuesday that will advance the bill and allow lawmakers to begin considering it if the motion receives the needed 60 votes.

The bill still faces the threat of a filibuster from Republican senators who argue it is unconstitutional.

“We hope that we can receive enough Republican support so we can move to debate this bill and ultimately pass the bill,” Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau said.

The voting-rights bill is a compromise that would grant the District a seat in the House and add another House seat for Utah.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and sponsor of the House version of the bill, said she was “delighted” at Mr. Reid’s move yesterday.

“I know that D.C. residents also will be elated that in just days we will be taking another giant and historic step toward getting a full House vote,” Mrs. Norton said.



FBI supervisor accused of attack

An FBI supervisor charged with assaulting his girlfriend tried to shove a handgun down her throat, locked her in a closet and may have recorded parts of the assault, court documents show.

Carl Spicocchi, 54, is a field supervisor at FBI headquarters who previously served as special agent in charge of the bureau’s Toledo, Ohio, office.

He is in jail pending an Oct. 18 preliminary hearing and is charged with abduction, use of a firearm in a felony and assault.

Mr. Spicocchi’s girlfriend told Arlington County police that Mr. Spicocchi suspected her of cheating on him and had been following her.

The victim said she was able to escape after Mr. Spicocchi brought her into the apartment’s kitchen and tried to punch her Aug. 23.

Mr. Spicocchi’s attorney, Thomas Abbenante, could not be reached for comment. An FBI spokesman declined to comment.


Child’s death ruled heatstroke

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said a toddler found unresponsive in his mother’s car in Blacksburg last week died of heatstroke.

Dr. Amy Tharp said more tests are pending, but the cause of death was acute hyperthermia.

The Roanoke Times quoted a person involved in the case as saying the mother forgot to drop her child off at a day-care center before going to work Friday morning.

The child, not yet 2 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was the second such death of a child in Virginia this year.


Tolls to rise on Dulles Greenway

The owners of the private Dulles Greenway have been granted permission to gradually increase tolls on the highway.

The State Corporation Commission announced yesterday that it has approved a request to raise the one-way rush-hour toll for cars on the 14-mile highway that runs between Leesburg and Washington Dulles International Airport to $4.80 by 2012. The one-way toll rose from $2.70 to $3 in July.

Under the proposal, tolls for cars traveling in the peak direction during rush hours would rise to $4 in January 2009, $4.50 in July 2010, and $4.80 in January 2012. The non-peak toll would rise to $3.40 in 2009, $3.70 in 2010 and $4 in 2012.

Commercial trucks, which currently pay twice the rate charged to cars, will be subject to a proportional rate increase based on how many axles the vehicle has.

The commission noted that the Dulles Greenway’s owners, Toll Road Investors Partnership II, have lost money every year since construction began on the road in 1993. The commission also said the toll increase is not expected to discourage motorists from using the road.


Families seek closure of juvenile center

A representative of a group of families of teenagers at the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center yesterday urged the state Board of Juvenile Justice to close the facility, arguing that it is dangerous and fails to rehabilitate its young offenders.

Liane Rozzell and her partner, Linda Kaufman, of Arlington, told the board that their son is one of many incarcerated children who have been subjected to violence by other youths and staff members. The Powhatan County facility houses 269 male offenders ages 15 to 21.

But Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice Director Barry Green said that while Beaumont isn’t perfect, the problems are not endemic. He dismissed the notion that the facility should be shut down.

“There is not violence every day,” he said after the board meeting. “It is not something that is pervasive.”

Miss Rozzell disagrees, and in April, she helped start Families and Allies of Virginia’s Youth, a group of children’s advocates and about 10 families with loved ones incarcerated at Beaumont.

Miss Rozzell said her group has heard reports of rampant violence inside the facility, including gang violence and daily fights. The group also has received reports of female staff members having sexual relations with young men at the facility, she said. And this summer, two 17-year-olds at Beaumont were charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old cellmate.



State pledges funds to save island

State officials are worried that Little Deal Island in Somerset County is eroding away, and they decided yesterday to spend nearly $1 million to attempt to save the tiny island.

The state Board of Public Works approved $985,000 for dredging and marsh planting, attempts to stabilize the island that was once home to working watermen but is now uninhabited except by wildlife. The dredging will make a channel in Wenona Harbor usable again for 15 to 20 watermen who still work in the area.

The board unanimously approved the project, but Comptroller Peter Franchot asked whether it was worth the money to try to stop nature’s erosion of the island. A county official replied that the work is necessary to try to save the local seafood industry.

The work will begin by the first of next year.


Embezzler gets 10 years in prison

A woman who stole $400,000 from a nonprofit case-management business has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kelly Macher, 46, of Inwood, W.Va., also was ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to Potomac Case Management Services, which provides services to the mentally ill, the elderly and first-time juvenile offenders.

Macher worked for the organization for about six years.


‘Blair Witch’ town wants new look

The Frederick County town of Burkittsville is taking a visible step to distance itself from the 1999 hit movie “The Blair Witch Project.”

The Town Council voted Monday to replace four metal signs welcoming visitors at the town’s main entry points.

The signs closely resemble the wooden signs that became a repeated souvenir for thieves after the movie became a sleeper hit. Mayor Debby Burgoyne said the town will hold a contest for a new design, one that differs from the signs shown in the film.

The movie plot involved three young adults who disappeared while researching a legend about a witch. Most of the scenes were filmed elsewhere, but shots of a Burkittsville welcome sign and the town graveyard were used in the movie.


Man dies trying to rescue children

A Frederick man died on Virginia’s Lake Anna while rescuing two children, authorities said.

The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said Kendall Coates, 20, was on a boat Saturday pulling the children on inner tubes. The children panicked in the water, and Mr. Coates jumped in to get them.

Another man in the boat said Mr. Coates was struggling while putting the children in the boat. Mr. Coates then disappeared. The children were wearing life jackets, but Mr. Coates was not.

His body was found Sunday morning.


Baby born on I-270 during rush hour

It was anything but a normal morning commute for a woman who gave birth on Interstate 270 yesterday morning and for the school nurse who helped her.

Fany Chavez and her husband were near Falls Road at about 9:30 a.m. when she went into labor. Her husband pulled over to the shoulder and luckily for her, Tammi Fischer just happened to be passing by on her way to work at Kensington Parkwood Elementary School.

When Miss Fischer noticed the car and the man trying to flag down motorists, she stopped and helped Mrs. Chavez deliver a healthy baby boy.

Paramedics arrived and took the new mother and her new son to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where they were both said to be doing well.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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