- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009



Inspector general resigns under cloud

Baltimore’s inspector general has resigned.

The city solicitor’s office said Monday that Hilton Green has submitted his retirement papers as inspector general and informed his staff of his departure.

Mayor Sheila Dixon appointed Mr. Green, a city housing inspector, to the watchdog position intended to uncover fraud, waste and abuse in city government in 2007.

His resignation comes days after city officials publicly criticized his department and the City Council slashed its funding.

Questions about the agency began circulating after its first report was released in February - about 18 months later than expected - detailing few major accomplishments.

City officials said they will conduct a national search for a new inspector general. The interim inspector will be Donald Huskey.


First state death linked to swine flu

Maryland health officials have announced the state’s first confirmed swine-flu-related death.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Tuesday that an elderly Baltimore-area resident with a swine flu infection and serious underlying medical conditions had died.

Health officials said that swine flu was a contributing factor in the death, but they will not release personal details about the case, including specific underlying health conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 87 people who contracted swine flu have died.

Maryland officials have confirmed 370 swine-flu cases, but said the number is likely a fraction of the total cases statewide because many people are not tested and recover within a week.


Incinerator back on front burner

The Frederick County Commissioners voted 3-2 on Tuesday to revive plans for a giant trash incinerator that would also generate electricity.

The decision is contingent upon Carroll County’s participation and regulatory approval for the $527 million incinerator on a site near the Monocacy River and the Monocacy National Battlefield south of Frederick.

Supporters hope to conserve landfill space and generate electricity by burning garbage from Frederick and Carroll counties.

Opponents, including the National Park Service, say the plant would be an unsightly source of pollution and that the county should instead encourage more recycling.


Filing could end federal oversight

Lawyers for foster children in Baltimore and the state agency that oversees social services say they are confident the system is improving.

The state Department of Human Resources, which oversees social services, and lawyers for the foster children announced jointly Tuesday the filing of paperwork that could end decades of federal oversight of the system.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said he is proud of the progress that has been made.

The suit brought on behalf of Baltimore foster children was settled in 1988 with the conditions that social services officials improve care and file progress reports every six months.

Under the new plan, court oversight could end if officials satisfactorily complete the next three reporting periods. A hearing on the matter will be held Aug. 5.



‘Old Jake’ vane goes to museum

A mid-19th-century weather vane valued by Sotheby’s New York at $3 million to $5 million has found a temporary home after failing to sell at auction.

The 6-foot copper weather vane known as “Old Jake” will be on display at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley for three years beginning July 3.

“Old Jake” has topped the Rouss Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company’s firehouses in Winchester since about 1860.

The fire company decided to sell “Old Jake” at Sotheby’s New York’s “Important Americana” auction in January, but the highest bid, $2.1 million, didn’t meet the undisclosed reserve price.

President Tim Clark says the fire company decided several weeks ago to loan “Old Jake” to the museum.


Woman loses again in visitation case

A Winchester area woman who has been fighting for years to deny child visitation rights to her former lesbian partner lost another round Tuesday in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

In a case closely watched by national gay rights and conservative Christian groups, the court unanimously upheld Winchester Circuit Judge John R. Prosser’s dismissal of Lisa Miller’s latest attempt to block Virginia from registering and enforcing a Vermont court order granting visitation rights to Janet Jenkins.

Courts in both states have repeatedly ruled against Miss Miller, who became pregnant by artificial insemination after she and Miss Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Miss Miller later renounced homosexuality and moved with daughter Isabella to the Winchester area, and the civil union was dissolved.

The appeals court has now ruled against Miss Miller three times. The Virginia Supreme Court also has ruled that Vermont has sole jurisdiction over the dispute, and the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear Miss Miller’s appeal.

Steve Crampton, a lawyer for the conservative Liberty Counsel, said the battle will continue. Liberty Counsel represents Miss Miller.


Man gets jail time in cockfighting case

A Bedford County man will go to jail for selling roosters for cockfighting.

Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike on Tuesday sentenced Avery Fitzgerald to a four-month term after he pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding, abetting or promoting animal fighting.

A Sheriff’s Department official says an undercover officer purchased two roosters for fighting from the 63-year-old Mr. Fitzgerald in December.

A subsequent search of Mr. Fitzgerald’s property near Big Island yielded 39 roosters, game spurs, betting slips and a fighting pit.

A grand jury indicted Mr. Fitzgerald on two felony charges, but Judge Updike reduced one charge to a misdemeanor and dropped the other.

Mr. Fitzgerald was ordered to pay restitution for the county’s expenses in seizing, caring for and euthanizing the roosters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.



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