- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009



State must reveal mayor probe details

A judge has ordered prosecutors to turn over additional details to attorneys for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Judge Dennis Sweeney’s order last week directs the State Prosecutor’s Office to identify the real estate projects and business entities that could be used in the case against the mayor.

Mrs. Dixon’s attorney, Arnold Weiner, told the Baltimore Sun that sharing the information will prevent any surprises at trial.

Mrs. Dixon, a Democrat who replaced Martin O’Malley when he became governor in January 2007, is accused of stealing gift cards intended for needy families and lying about gifts from a former boyfriend, developer Ronald Lipscomb.

Mr. Weiner has argued that Mr. Lipscomb technically was not doing business with the city, meaning that Mrs. Dixon would not be required to disclose gifts .

Prosecutors will now have to turn over the names of Mr. Lipscomb’s many limited liability companies and a list of his development projects.


Soccer stadium bill back in committee

A bill that authorizes Maryland to study whether to build a new D.C. United soccer stadium in Prince George’s County has lost ground.

The measure is back in the House Appropriations Committee after House of Delegates staffers found constitutional problems with an amendment approved Monday by the committee.

Committee members amended the bill to allow the state to pay up to $200,000 for the study, but require stadium authority officials to return to legislative budget committees to brief them on study results before they could get approval to coordinate design.

Staffers said it is unconstitutional for the legislature to have veto power over the work of the Maryland Stadium Authority. Bill sponsor Delegate Melony Ghee Griffith, Prince George’s Democrat, said the problems can be fixed.


Senate rejects delay for new helicopters

The Maryland Senate rejected a measure that would have delayed the purchase of medevac helicopters until lawmakers have a chance to study the procurement process for a year.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee approved $52.5 million in the capital budget on Tuesday to buy three helicopters.

The state’s medevac system currently uses 11 helicopters purchased from 1989 to 1999. One helicopter crashed in September, killing four people and prompting extra scrutiny of the system.


Speed camera bill includes schools

Speed-monitoring cameras to slap speeders with $40 fines could be used near schools and in highway work zones statewide under an amendment to a bill approved by the Maryland Senate on Tuesday.

Supporters of the amendment, which added schools to the bill, said the change will help prevent accidents and injuries to children as well as protect highway workers.

The camera system would send tickets in the mail to speeders who go more than 12 miles per hour over the speed limit. The amendment approved by the Senate would allow cameras within a half mile of a school.

“We have technology to reduce injuries and save lives in school zones,” said Sen. James N. Robey, Howard Democrat, who is a former Howard County police chief. “These are where young people are most vulnerable.”


Clean Energy Center to be in Rockville

State officials chose Rockville on Tuesday for the headquarters of a new agency dedicated to making Maryland a national leader in renewable energy production and job creation.

The Maryland Clean Energy Center will foster development of green technologies statewide, including at an industrial park near Annapolis, a demonstration site in Frederick and an incubator in Baltimore, President Kenneth M. Connolly said.

A five-member staff, assisted by student interns and volunteers, will be based at the Camille Kendall Academic Center at the University System of Maryland’s Shady Grove campus.

The center will help channel federal funds to Maryland businesses and entrepreneurs, Mr. Connolly said. It also will collect, analyze and disseminate information about Maryland’s renewable energy industries.



Dominion proposes 6.9 percent increase

Dominion Virginia Power is seeking a 6.9 percent rate increase.

The state’s largest utility filed its request with the State Corporation Commission on Tuesday. The increase would be phased in over 14 months, eventually adding $7.54 to the monthly bill of an average customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Dominion passed along an 18 percent increase in fuel costs to customers last summer. The utility proposes decreasing the fuel rate by 3.3 percent now that fuel costs have decreased. That rollback is accounted for in the proposed 6.9 percent increase.


Official: Many infant deaths preventable

Unsafe sleeping conditions are being blamed for the deaths of 12 infants in Virginia in 2007.

A report by the state Chief Medical Examiner’s Office says the deaths of up to 49 other infants occurred where unsafe sleeping conditions existed.

These conditions included infants and adults or other children sleeping in the same bed, infants sleeping on water beds, pillows or other soft surfaces, or infants sleeping in areas that include quilts, toys, comforters or pillows.

According to the report released Tuesday, a total of 839 infants died in Virginia in 2007. The state’s infant mortality rate was 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

A majority of infant deaths are preventable, Health Commissioner Karen Remley said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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