- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008



O’Malley pushes slots referendum

Gov. Martin O’Malley, Democrat, said Tuesday that he is working hard to get a referendum passed in November to legalize slot-machine gambling in the state, despite claims to the contrary.

The governor said on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program that he has not distanced himself from the issue and that he agrees with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who announced last week that he is reluctantly supporting the measure.

Mr. O’Malley said that in a perfect world the state would not have to face the decision, but gambling revenue will help avoid higher taxes or budget cuts in such areas as education.

Proponents say slots are expected to provide hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue, but critics say that revenue won’t start flowing for years even if voters approve the referendum.


Guards on leave after inmate’s death

Two Prince George’s County corrections officers have been identified as “people of interest” in the investigation of an inmate’s death and placed on paid leave, a county spokesman said.

The spokesman said the officers were placed on “non-duty status” after officials received information that they were the focus of the investigation into the death of Ronnie White, 19.

The spokesman declined to identify the officers and would not say how long they have been on leave or who identified them as being of interest in the investigation.

Mr. White was found June 29 in his jail cell, several days after he was arrested as a suspect in the hit-and-run death of Prince George’s County Police Department Cpl. Richard Findley during a traffic stop. Maryland’s chief medical examiner has ruled that Mr. White was strangled.


Crabbers can get disaster funding

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced that federal officials have issued a much sought-after disaster declaration for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery, making watermen eligible for funding to help them deal with severe harvest limits.

Virginia and Maryland asked Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez for the declaration in May, saying the industry is in danger of collapse.

To deal with declining crab numbers, the states cut the female crab harvest more than a third and shortened the season. Virginia also banned winter crab dredging, which was already banned in Maryland.

Miss Mikulski said she is continuing to work with other Maryland congressmen on funding to support the disaster declaration. In a June letter to federal authorities, Maryland and Virginia’s U.S. senators argued for $20 million in federal aid.


Foot bridge eyed for battlefield

The National Park Service is proposing construction of a foot bridge over Interstate 270 near Frederick to connect two sections of the Monocacy National Battlefield split by the highway.

The pedestrian bridge is part of the agency’s preferred alternative in a draft management plan for the Civil War site.

It would be a broad deck covered with soil, crops, fence rows and trees. The agency estimates the cost of such a structure at $4.6 million to $6.8 million.

Another alternative in the draft plan includes an automobile bridge over the highway with an estimated cost of $11.4 million.

The Park Service has said the bridge would be part of a federal and state transportation plan to eventually widen the northern end of I-270 to six or eight lanes from the current four.


Officer, suspect in shooting named

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of an officer and a D.C. man shot during a struggle last week.

The sheriff’s office said Officer David Benthin saw Carlos Barksdale, 23, trying to steal a GPS unit Friday from an unmarked police vehicle at the St. Charles Town Center in Waldorf.

When Officer Benthin approached Mr. Barksdale and tried to arrest him, the sheriff’s office said, the men began to struggle and the officer’s handgun discharged.

Mr. Barksdale was treated and release for a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. He is charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and theft. Officer Benthin is on administrative leave.


School officials reject slur charges

Allegany County school officials say allegations that Dunbar High School football players were subjected to racial epithets during the Fort Hill-Dunbar game are “unjustified” and “have no substance.”

Dunbar coach Craig Jefferies pulled his team off the field in the third quarter as they led 14-8 Friday night. Mr. Jefferies said he was afraid the situation would escalate into violence.

After conducting an investigation Monday, county Superintendent of Schools William AuMiller said Mr. Jefferies has thrown “gasoline on a fire” for no reason. He found no “credible evidence” to support the allegations.

Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said his players told him they did not use racist terms toward the Dunbar players.

The game’s referee said nobody on the officiating crew heard epithets.



Bias in housing lawsuit is settled

Manassas has reached a settlement with a group that accused the city of unfairly targeting Hispanic households for overcrowding violations.

The lawsuit by the District-based Equal Rights Center focused on several issues, including a city hot line that allowed residents to leave anonymous complaints about crowding in their neighborhoods. It also cited an attempt in 2005 to define a family for the purpose of code enforcement.

The settlement requires Manassas to hire a housing manager and advocate to address discrimination concerns from residents and implement a new procedure for overcrowding inspections.

The city and its school system also must pay $775,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ expenses. Manassas also will pay $60,000 to the organization Housing Opportunities Made Equal.


McAuliffe hires top consultant

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe has signed a veteran Virginia political consultant for his possible run for governor.

Procuring the services of Mo Elleithee, a former spokesman for presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, is Mr. McAuliffe’s first action toward a possible 2009 gubernatorial run.

Mr. Elleithee, a partner in District-based Hilltop Public Solutions, said Mr. McAuliffe asked him to sketch out the basics of a statewide campaign. Mr. McAuliffe will wait until after the Nov. 4 election to announce whether he is running, Mr. Elleithee said.

Mr. McAuliffe would be the third Democrat in the race. Delegate Brian J. Moran of Alexandria and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath County, also are running.

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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