- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009


2 lawmakers oppose bridge closings

Two members of Congress are asking the Secret Service to reconsider the plan to close all bridges crossing the Potomac River between Northern Virginia and Washington on Inauguration Day.

Reps. James P. Moran and Gerry Connolly, both Northern Virginia Democrats, say medical personnel and hospitality workers who are scheduled to work the day President-elect Barack Obama takes office should be able to use the bridges.

On Friday, Mr. Moran said “common sense” should be guiding the region’s transportation policies, rather than “fear.” He also said having only two bridges open to pedestrians is unacceptable.

The Secret Service announced the bridge closings Wednesday. In addition, about 3.5 square miles of downtown Washington will be closed to traffic starting the day before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, also said she is concerned about the traffic plan.

Kratovil gets armed-services seat

Maryland’s newest member of Congress has been named to the House Armed Services Committee.

First District Congressman Frank Kratovil said serving on the committee will allow him to improve the quality of life for men and women in the armed forces who live in his district and work at area military installations.

Mr. Kratovil said the committee assignment also gives him “a seat at the table” when it comes to creating national defense policy. The committee funds and oversees the Pentagon, all branches of the military and part of the Department of Energy.

Mr. Kratovil formally began his first term in Congress on Tuesday.



Salmonella cases tied to outbreak

Seven salmonella cases in the state have been tied to a nationwide outbreak of the disease, a spokeswoman for Maryland’s health department said.

The seven cases have the same DNA “fingerprint” as other cases in the outbreak that has struck 42 states, health department spokeswoman Karen Black said.

No deaths in Maryland have been attributed to the outbreak. However, federal health officials said the strain involved in the outbreak has hospitalized about one in five.

Nearly 400 people nationwide have become ill and one person has died. However, it’s not clear whether salmonella caused the death in Minnesota.

The cause of the outbreak has not been determined.


Teen pleads guilty in explosives case

A Rockville teen has pleaded guilty to charges for his role in building explosives in a case that involved a map of Camp David.

Patrick Yevsukov, 17, issued the plea Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court on two counts of manufacturing or possession of destructive devices, one count of unauthorized use of a computer and one count of theft less than $100, State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy said.

The boy was charged as an adult and could be sentenced to more than 50 years in prison. Sentencing guidelines call for probation to four years’ incarceration.

Yevsukov said he helped schoolmate and fellow defendant Collin McKenzie-Gude build and detonate pipe bombs. Yevsukov also said he obtained letterhead from the police department to try to access police equipment.

In July, authorities said they found military rifles, bomb-making materials and a map of the Camp David presidential retreat in defendant McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom. He is facing federal charges.


Lawsuit seeking counsel for suspects

Maryland’s highest court has heard arguments in a lawsuit that claims defendants are entitled to an attorney when they appear before a court commissioner.

Defendants routinely appear alone before the commissioner, who determines probable cause and whether a person will be detained.

Michael Schatzow, an attorney in the class-action lawsuit, told the Court of Appeals the current system creates conditions of “incarceration without representation.” Many of the cases end up being dismissed, and Mr. Schatzow said the government would save money by avoiding costs of incarcerating someone unnecessarily.

But Kendra Ausby, an assistant attorney general, said the plaintiffs are asking for an “unprecedented” and “impractical” interpretation of the state’s public defender law.



Parents of child driver arraigned

An Eastern Virginia couple who were arrested after their 6-year-old son crashed the family car while trying to drive himself to school appeared in court Friday on child-endangerment charges.

A Northumberland County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge appointed attorneys for Jaqulyn Waltman, 26, and David Dodson, 40. He also set a preliminary hearing. Each has been charged with one count of felony child endangerment.

Mr. Dodson declined to comment.

“Mr. Dodson is very thankful that his son is safe and that no one was injured that day,” said his attorney, Jane Wrightson.

If convicted, Mr. Dodson and Mrs. Waltman could each face one to five years in prison, Ms. Wrightson said.

The boy drove a Ford Taurus after missing the bus Monday morning. He traveled about six miles before crashing into a utility pole. He wasn’t seriously injured.

The child and his 4-year-old brother are in protective custody.


Senior Bush visits namesake carrier

Former President George H.W. Bush made an unannounced visit to his namesake aircraft carrier, saying he’s “very excited” about the commissioning set for Saturday.

The 84-year-old former president walked with a cane Friday as he visited the Nimitz-class carrier George H.W. Bush.

He told reporters he was proud of the more than 2,500 crew members who are working furiously to prepare the ship for the commissioning.

The former president, a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, and his son, President Bush, will attend the ceremony Saturday at the 1,092-foot aircraft carrier.


Jobless claims choke agency’s phone

The Virginia Employment Commission has upgraded its automated telephone system to handle a surge in calls that choked jobless-claim filings.

The number of calls received by the Voice Response System over the past few weeks are the most since the system was installed in 1995, said Sam Lupica, the commission’s chief operating officer.

The 24-hour system allows unemployed workers to file initial claims for benefits by telephone.

On Monday, the system received 10,300 calls by 10 a.m., Mr. Lupica said. Between midnight Jan. 1 and 7:30 a.m. Monday, 85,000 calls were received.

Clients are being encouraged to use the commission’s online filing system when possible, or to call the telephone system during non-peak hours.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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