- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2008


All lanes reopen on New York Avenue

Work crews Wednesday afternoon fixed the water main break on New York Avenue in Northeast that caused major backups for the past few days. The break closed two of three eastbound lanes of the road, which is a major route of commuters leaving the city to Route 50, the Capital Beltway and other major highways.

Metro seeks relief on loan payment

Metro is seeking a temporary restraining order against a Belgian bank that is demanding a $43 million payment by Friday.

KBC Group is requesting the money because of the collapse of insurance giant AIG, which had guaranteed a financing deal the bank made with Metro in 2002.

AIG’s financial problems have triggered a clause that allows the bank to demand the money all at once.

Metro warns that if a federal judge refuses to grant a temporary restraining order, the transit system could find itself in default by Friday.

Besides Metro, the collapse of AIG could force about 30 other agencies to repay investors billions of dollars for financing deals that AIG had guaranteed.

Lawmakers have written to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in recent days, urging the government step in to back the deals instead of AIG.

Former director to repay museum

The founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian has agreed to reimburse the Smithsonian Institution for more than $9,700 in payments.

According to an audit released Wednesday by the Smithsonian inspector general, the payments to W. Richard West Jr. for dinners and expenses could be considered “extravagant” for a nonprofit museum director.

The audit confirms earlier reports that the museum spent $48,500 for a portrait of Mr. West before his 2007 retirement and more than $30,000 for an eight-minute video extolling his leadership. The report also states Mr. West traveled more than any other Smithsonian executive as part of his job, but sometimes mixed business with personal vacations.

In a statement responding to the inspector general’s report, Mr. West said he “should have exercised better judgment.”

Norton proposes millions for District

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said Wednesday the District would receive $220 million for transportation, energy and clean water under a bill introduced in the House subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management, which she chairs.

But Mrs. Norton said that she was disappointed that the city reported only one ready-to-go highway and bridge project while most states reported dozens.She said she would work with city officials to help the District qualify for its funds in other areas as well as to make up for the shortfall, which threatens the proposed funding.



First snowfall in Maryland’s west

An early snowfall has brought wintry conditions to far Western Maryland.

The National Weather Service reported 2 inches in Frostburg as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. However, the agency canceled a winter-storm warning.

There are unofficial reports of up to 5 inches of snow since Tuesday in the mountain ridges of Garrett County.



College secured; 3 students arrested

A report of an armed man prompted a lockdown at Danville Community College on Wednesday, and police said three students were taken into custody after officers found a gun, a knife and another weapon during a search of the campus.

No shots were fired and no one was injured, school spokeswoman Andrea Burney said. Charges were pending.

Ms. Burney said the campus was secured when police received a call shortly after 10:30 a.m. saying a man with a gun was on his way to campus. Police cleared all buildings except the main administration building, and Ms. Burney said the alert status was lifted completely about two hours later.

The campus was alerted by sirens, computer messages and messages sent via cell phones, pagers and e-mail. Ms. Burney said entrances also were barricaded.

The lockdown occurred at a busy time for classes at the 3,900-student school.


Free-speech groups rap poll dress code

Three free-speech groups say they plan to legally challenge Virginia’s election board guidelines prohibiting voters from wearing buttons, T-shirts or other apparel with political messages at polling places.

However, the free-speech advocates will wait until after Tuesday’s election to file a lawsuit in hopes of getting the rules rescinded in time for the 2009 election.

“Part of the problem is the late date at which the State Board of Elections made this decision,” Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Virginia, said Wednesday. The board voted 2-1 for the ban on Oct. 14.

“For the organizations involved, it made the most sense to see how this plays out on Election Day,” Mr. Willis said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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