- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2009


Metro could end free weekend parking

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said he is considering ending the free parking on weekends and holidays at Metro’s lots and garages.

As reported by WTOP radio, Metro is studying whether the move would help close the projected $154 million deficit in the next budget.

Mr. Catoe said hasn’t decided whether to recommend the idea to the Metro board. Charging for parking on the weekends was suggested by a rider in a recent online chat, he said. Metro is weighing the possible revenue against the possibility the parking fees would discourage weekend ridership.

Mr. Catoe has said he can cut the deficit by more than half by eliminating 313 jobs, about half of which are vacant. Service cuts remain under discussion. Mr. Catoe, however, has ruled out ending service earlier in the evening.

D.C. Council member to teach at GW

D.C. Council member David Catania, at-large independent, said he plans to teach public health courses at George Washington University.

He was appointed as a lecturer at the university’s School of Public Health and Health Services, he said, and will give periodic lectures on public health, law and policy.

Mr. Catania heads the council’s health committee. He said he is looking forward to sharing experiences from the District with students.

He won’t be compensated, avoiding any conflict of interest, he said.



Town may repeal law blocking mosque

The Frederick County town of Walkersville is considering repealing a zoning ordinance that was the basis for its rejection of a Muslim mosque and convention center last year.

Repealing the ordinance would help the town fight a lawsuit charging that it illegally discriminated against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Town Commissioner Chad Weddle said.

A repeal also would clear the way for construction of the Banner School, a private, nonsectarian institution for grades kindergarten through nine, Mr. Weddle said. The school also has been blocked from building on agricultural land in the town of 5,600.

The ordinance prohibits recreational facilities, places of worship, shops and private schools on land zoned for agriculture. The proposed repeal has received a favorable report from the town’s planning commission and is expected to come before the town commissioners.


Judgment sought against car dealer

A company that owns two car dealerships on the Eastern Shore has defaulted on nearly $12 million in loans from GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors Corp., according to GMAC.

GMAC has filed in Talbot and Caroline county courts for a confessed judgment, which would require payment without a lawsuit. The company, Bob Smith Automotive Group, owns the GM Giant dealership in Easton and the Giant GMC dealership in Federalsburg.

The filing also seeks nearly $2 million in attorney’s fees.

GMAC spokesman Mike Stoller would not comment on whether the company would take possession of vehicles from the lots. Calls from the Easton Star Democrat seeking comment from Bob Smith Automotive owner Lee Denny were not returned.



Proposed settlement reached in jail suit

A proposed settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against Newport News by the families of two boys who were sexually assaulted at the city’s old Juvenile Detention Center.

The lawsuit accused officials of neglecting to provide a safe environment. It originally was filed in circuit court but was moved to U.S. District Court in September 2007.

Kevin P. Shea, one of the attorneys representing the families, and Chief Deputy Newport News City Attorney Allen L. Jackson declined to disclose the settlement amount.

But Mr. Shea said his clients are “very satisfied.”

A federal judge must approve the settlement.

The two sexual assaults occurred in 2003 and 2004. The center has since moved to a larger facility.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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