- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Dugard, family file claims against state

ANTIOCH | Jaycee Dugard and her family have taken the first step to sue the state of California for lapses officials made while she and her daughters were allegedly held captive by a convicted sex offender.

Miss Dugard, her two daughters and her mother, Terry Probyn, have each filed claim forms against the Department of Corrections, Rachel Wall, a spokeswoman for the state’s Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, said Friday.

Miss Dugard’s spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, said the family members haven’t decided whether they’ll file a lawsuit.



“We are simply preserving Jaycee Dugard’s right to file a lawsuit at a later date, if that is something she decides is in her family’s best interest,” Miss Seltzer said.

By law, victims have six months from the time of the incident to file a personal injury claim against the state. Miss Dugard was found in August. The forms do not ask for a specific dollar amount, only saying damages exceed $25,000.

COLORADO

Dobson delivers last radio broadcast

COLORADO SPRINGS | James Dobson made his last radio broadcast Friday for Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry he founded 33 years ago and built into an influential political and social voice.

“I have a lump in my throat, but God’s in control,” Mr. Dobson told listeners.

Mr. Dobson, an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage, has been gradually withdrawing from the organization, stepping down as president in 2003 and as chairman of the board last year.

He plans to start a new show, “Family Talk with James Dobson,” this spring.

Mr. Dobson said Friday the new show isn’t competition for Focus on the Family, noting that Focus agreed to donate $1 million to help him start.

MAINE

200,000 lack power after snowstorm

PORTLAND | More than 200,000 homes and businesses were still without power Sunday as restoration efforts continued days after a slow-moving storm battered the Northeast with heavy snow, rain and high winds.

Nearly 100,000 utility customers still lacked electricity in New Hampshire, the hardest-hit state. New York had about 96,000 outages and Maine 33,000. More than a million utility customers throughout the region lost power at the peak of the storm.

Smaller outage numbers were reported in other states as hundreds of utility crews continued removing trees that knocked down power lines and replacing utility poles that snapped during the storm that crossed the region Thursday and Friday. Dozens of shelters were set up at fire departments, schools and other places to provide warmth and food. In upstate New York, deep snow made it hard for people to get around.

“A lot of people cannot honestly get out of their house and get to the shelters,” said John-Anthony Bruno, executive director of the Ulster County chapter of the American Red Cross. “A lot of people are resourceful. If their neighbor has power, they go down the street rather than shelter with us.”

NEW YORK

Runway shutdown to affect air traffic

NEW YORK | One runway, a whole lot of problems.

The main Bay Runway at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will be closed for four months starting March 1 to repave with concrete. Millions of travelers will experience delays — including some not flying anywhere near the Big Apple.

With about one-third of JFK’s traffic and half of its departures being diverted to three smaller runways, planes will wait on longer lines on the ground for takeoffs and in the air for landings. Delays at one of the nation’s largest airports will ripple to cities across the U.S., most especially Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando, the three cities with the most JFK traffic.

Passengers using JFK also face another headache — higher ticket prices. JetBlue, American, Delta and other airlines have cut their schedules by about 10 percent for the shutdown period. They can raise prices because there will be a smaller number of seats to meet demand.

OHIO

Rock Hall of Fame adds space for relics

CLEVELAND | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland has fascinating relics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” mask. Soon it’ll have space to showcase its interesting but less flashy artifacts.

The museum will open its library and archives later this year in a $12 million high-tech building it shares with Cuyahoga Community College’s creative arts programs.

Jim Morrison’s first poem will be there as well as and letters from the Grateful Dead, Whitney Houston, Patti Smith and others. There will also be old audio and video recordings, contracts, album covers, posters and scrap books.

Student and professional singer Tracy Marie hopes the museum-college collaboration will encourage young artists to aspire to have their campus studio work enshrined in the archive.

PENNSYLVANIA

Professor suspended over hit man posting

EAST STROUDSBURG | A professor at a northeastern Pennsylvania university says she’s been suspended indefinitely for what she thought was a humorous posting on Facebook about hiring a hit man.

East Stroudsburg University sociology professor Gloria Gadsden said she was suspended Wednesday because administrators thought she was making threats.

Miss Gadsden said she jokingly referred to looking for a discreet hit man in one post and removed another comment that said she didn’t want to kill any students but “Friday was a different story.”

She said officials referred to the shooting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville last month during the meeting. A university spokesman wouldn’t comment on Miss Gadsden’s claims, calling it a personnel matter.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Judge to OK governor’s divorce

CHARLESTON | South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s divorce will become final this month, just over a year after the first lady discovered his affair with an Argentine woman he later called his soul mate.

Family Court Judge Jocelyn Cate said Friday she plans to approve Jenny Sanford’s request to split from her husband of 20 years. The divorce takes effect in mid-March.

Mrs. Sanford attended a 20-minute hearing without her husband. Afterward, she said she considers it “the beginning of a new chapter for me and for our children.” She filed for divorce in December on the grounds of adultery, saying reconciliation efforts with her husband had been unsuccessful.

“The dissolution of a 20-year marriage is not a cause for celebration,” she said Friday. “It’s a sad occasion.”

UTAH

Hiring illegal aliens may lead to jail

SALT LAKE CITY | Employers in Utah could be among the first in the country to face criminal charges for failing to verify their workers’ immigration status under a bill advancing in the Utah Legislature.

Several states require businesses to use the federal E-Verify program but generally only under threat of financial penalties.

Under the bill, Utah employers who fail to comply could face a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Bill supporters say enacting the measure would stop identity theft and encourage illegal immigrants to leave Utah. Opponents say including criminal penalties could clash with federal law and place an undue burden on businesses.

The bill cleared a legislative panel Friday and goes to the Senate floor.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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