July 3, 2010

Man charged with Wheaton mall carjacking

County police have arrested and charged a Seat Pleasant man in connection with the carjacking of a father who was with his two small children in the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center last month, according to police spokesman Cpl. Dan Friz. Tyrone Collington Jr., 23, of the 6100 block of Addison Road, was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of armed carjacking, one count of armed robbery, three counts of first-degree assault and one count of the use of a handgun in a violent crime. He is being held on $75,000 bond in the Montgomery County Detention Center.

Shortly after 8 p.m. June 22 in a parking lot outside the Crisp ‘N' Juicy restaurant in the Westfield Wheaton mall, a father reported that he was buckling his children in their car seats when he was approached by another man who brandished a handgun and demanded the keys to his black Honda Civic. The father handed over the keys and removed his children from the car, and the suspect fled in the vehicle, according to police reports.

Two days later, Fairfax County Police learned of an attempted carjacking at about 11 p.m. near the George Mason University campus. The suspect obtained the keys to a BMW but was unable to start it because the car had a high-end ignition system, Friz said. The suspect then returned to the stolen Honda and fled from the area. The person whose car he allegedly attempted to steal gave chase and eventually flagged down a Virginia State Police Trooper. Friz said the suspect eventually abandoned the Honda and fled on foot. SOURCE: Gazette

Passenger from DC hit-and-run is found

We have new developments on a motorcycle rider who was struck and dragged by a car in Northwest D.C. Thirty-five-year-old Todd Beckett was hit a week ago, and has endured three surgeries since the accident. Now sources tell ABC 7 News police have found the owner of the car, who was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Sources also say the car owner is under investigation because he's not cooperating with detectives by revealing all he may know about who was behind the wheel that night. D.C. police are still searching for the hit-and-run driver who struck Beckett, backed up over him, and then dragged the victim for more than a block.

Beckett, was seriously injured. Beckett, who is married, mentors teens and volunteers at church. He is the kind of guy, friends say, who will make a bunch of sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless in his Petworth neighborhood. Beckett was riding his motorcycle on 13th Street, about 10:30 p.m. last Friday when a white sedan on Quincy failed to stop. He was two blocks from home.

"It is pretty gruesome and frankly, one of the most inhumane things I have ever seen," said Christopher Baer, one of Beckett's friends.

Witnesses say Beckett was thrown to the ground. Three teenage girls jumped out of the back of the sedan, and then the driver did the unthinkable.

"We screamed, 'Don't back up! Don't back up!" recalled Sharon Jackson, who witnessed the incident.

The car did back up, trapping Beckett underneath,

"Just to have a body stuck underneath a car and you're dragging him and the guy was wearing shorts so you know he's getting destroyed," said another witness, Isabel Tumblin. "It was just one of the most horrible things I have ever seen."

"The guy was just driving so fast," Jackson added. "I was just running down the street in my bare feet."

The car dragged Beckett nearly a city block before he became dislodged. Almost two dozen neighbors rushed outside -- many stayed with him, while others kept close watch on three girls who had jumped from the car.

"Two of them wanted to leave, but we were not going to let them," Tumblin recalled.

The girls said they had just met the driver through Facebook. Beckett's has undergone three surgeries, with more to come. The driver is still out there.

"Do the right thing," Jackson said. "Because it was an accident, when the person chose to leave the scene of the accident that is when it became a crime."

Investigators have recovered the car involved. SOURCE: WJLA

Ruth Musicante of SEIU 500 discusses MCPS contract

Montgomery County water use still high

July 2, 2010

September 15 is date for hospital expansion appeal

Montgomery County's zoning appeals board has set Sept. 15 as the day for oral arguments on the proposed expansion plan for Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. The board began its review this week of the plan, which a hearing examiner has recommended be sent back to the hospital for revisions to reduce the impact on the adjoining neighborhood.

Board of Appeals Chairman Catherine Titus on Wednesday rejected an appeal by a neighborhood group that she recuse herself from the case. The Huntington Terrace Citizens' Association asked for Titus to step aside because her husband formerly served as chairman of Suburban's board, and the couple has donated money to the hospital. Titus, the community group said, would have to review her husband's testimony in a previous expansion proposal.

But Titus said that she could be objective in the case, that the testimony of her husband (now a federal judge) was not relevant to the current case and that she lacks bias "in favor of or against any party." SOURCE: Washington Post

I-95 shut down for 2 hours

ELKTON, Md. | Maryland State Police say an accident on Interstate 95 near Elkton shut down southbound traffic temporarily while a medical evacuation helicopter was brought in to transport accident victims. State police say the accident occurred about 5 p.m. Sunday and the highway was expected to be reopened as soon as the patients were transported from the scene of the accident. SOURCE: Washington Times

Mother Teresa's relics in Baltimore

BALTIMORE, Md. - Mother Teresa is being honored in Baltimore this week, one month before what would have been her 100th birthday. Mother Teresa visited Baltimore one year before her death. At St. Wenceslaus Church in Baltimore, a steady stream of the faithful got to see her cherished rosary, worn sandals and other personal items. Pat Allen was moved to tears.

“It has a very special meaning because she was such a holy woman,” said Allen. “Those shoes walked on holy ground. All her work was holy and it’s special to touch them and look at them and even to pray in their presence.”

14 years after her last visit to Baltimore, Mother Teresa's missionaries of charity are still out front and helping the poor. In poverty stricken areas of east Baltimore, a steady stream of people came to be inspired. Many of the faithful were also able to kiss relics of her blood and hair. The personal items are part of a North American tour in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth. Some never got to see her but these items are an important reminder of her holiness.

“To see this is incredible. Moving and inspiring,” said Jo Anne Sibisky.

Many have no doubt she will be the next saint in the Roman Catholic Church. The miracle of her work and message continues well past her death in 1997.

“Mother Teresa cared for the lowliest of the lowly and saw Christ in all of them and I think she wants us to do that. She's a holy woman and she should be one of his blessed saints,” said Allen. SOURCE: FOX DC

Potomac water main shut down after fiber alarm sounded

About 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George's counties have been ordered to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars and limit their use of toilets, dishwashers and washing machines through the Fourth of July weekend after officials shut down a huge water main in Potomac on Thursday.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission issued the temporary order after technicians sensed that there could be weaknesses in the concrete pipe -- at eight feet wide, the largest in the system -- near Tuckerman Lane and Gainsborough Road in Montgomery. Round-the-clock work is being done on the pipe. The utility hopes that the limits will reduce water use by about one-third, officials said. They want to ensure that fire departments in the two counties have adequate water pressure to fight fires. Residents can continue to drink tap water. Car washes that use recycled water are not affected, and the restrictions do not affect people on wells or municipal water systems. If the restrictions fail and water pressure drops, it is possible that bacteria could seep into the water, but that is not an issue now, officials said.

Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's fire and EMS department, said that there is enough water to battle typical house fires but that the weakened main could create difficulties for larger blazes.

"The pressure is not a problem. It's the amount of water pumped into the system," Brady said. WSSC officials have said they can reroute additional water to areas if necessary, he added.

This is not the first time a massive main has caused major problems for the WSSC. In late 2008, a concrete main 66 inches in diameter burst along River Road in Bethesda, stranding cars amid a torrent of frigid water and requiring motorists to be rescued by helicopter and firefighters in boats. Other large water-main breaks in the past several years have led to boil-water advisories for homes, businesses and hospitals as well as the temporary closure of schools and day-care centers.

Although the WSSC implemented an 8 1/2 percent rate increase to pay for system improvements -- a fee plan that took effect Thursday -- officials concede that the pace of repairing and modernizing its infrastructure has been slow. Previously proposed rate increases have been rolled back by politicians in favor of other priorities, and the six-member operating board has often engaged in political infighting. In 2008, about 1,700 pipes leaked or broke. A 90-year record was set in 2007 with 2,129.

"Are we doing enough? Probably not," said Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At Large). "We've been wrestling with Prince George's for years over the right rate to apply to fund major infrastructure replacement. As a result, we're still in a piecemeal, crisis-response mode."

'Ping' signaled a problem

The Potomac water main was installed in 1969 and was last inspected three years ago, WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said. After that inspection, crews left behind fiber-optic equipment to detect the "ping" sounds created when the reinforcing steel wires snap from corrosion after groundwater seeps through the pipe's decaying concrete walls. A flurry of pings -- one on Tuesday afternoon and seven more just after midnight -- triggered an alarm warning that the pipe was in danger of bursting, Neustadt said.

Crews began digging along the shoulder of Tuckerman Lane on Thursday afternoon, and their work could require lane closures. The pipe is about six miles long and links the water filtration plant in Potomac with another pipe east of Interstate 270. Workers must drain a section about three-quarters of a mile long, then cut out the weakened section and replace it. James P. Keary, a Prince George's spokesman, said the government is sending notices out through its e-mail discussion lists, Twitter accounts and other social media to alert residents to the restrictions. Although the fine for violating the water restrictions is $500, officials in both jurisdictions said they will encourage violators to comply with the policy.

"Most people will understand this," Keary said. "There will be some who forgot to reset their sprinklers, and somebody will go out and wash their cars. But I don't think we have to be the water police on this."

'Not where it should be'

The WSSC's attention to fixing its aging pipes has been diverted for decades by tensions between its six politically appointed commissioners -- three from Montgomery, three from Prince George's -- who oversee policy and approve large contracts. The acrimony came to a head last year when the board became deadlocked along county lines over a new general manager, and a Prince George's commissioner accused two Montgomery commissioners of racial bias. The board was so bogged down in debating minority contracting issues that it didn't discuss the massive River Road pipe break for two months.

For years, the WSSC board has generally sought double-digit rate increases, said Keith Levchenko, a senior legislative analyst with the Montgomery council. Montgomery's council had pushed for a 9.9 percent increase for the fiscal year that began Thursday, and Prince George's called for an 8 percent increase. They compromised at 8 1/2 percent. A household that uses 210 gallons a day pays $761 per year in water and sewer charges, according to the WSSC.

"We wanted to go higher, they wanted to go lower and everyone has a fair point," Floreen said. "But at the end of the day, our infrastructure is not where it should be for this very fundamental government function."

Said Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel), chairman of the Prince George's County Council: "I think that an 8 1/2 percent rate hike is very steep in this economy. SOURCE: Washington Post

Montgomery County Democrats thank Daniel Vovak, a Republican

Today Daniel Vovak received a hearty "thank you" from the Montgomery County Democrats. Vovak is running for county executive against Isiah Leggett. Vovak website is here.

Vovak said, "It's a rare Republican to receive a letter of thanks from Montgomery County Democrats. I'm sure many Democrats will vote for a fair Republican for this election cycle and give me a chance. If Leggett didn't run the county into a $1 billion deficit this year, then a Republican couldn't win, but now winning is a possibility. I'm probably the only Republican since Connie Morella whom Democrats can trust."

Large crack found in water pipe

Workers found a 4-foot crack in a major Montgomery County water main Friday morning, but are now struggling with valve problems as they try to drain at least a half million gallons of chlorinated water without damaging the nearby natural environment. Surrounding valves have not shut tightly enough and water continues to poor into the section of pipe where workers want to replace a 16-foot section so mandatory water restrictions can be lifted, according to Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman Lyn Riggins.

“We’re struggling with where we can put this water safety so we can get it out of the pipe as quickly as possible,” Riggins said. “You can’t just open up a fire hydrant and drain this chlorinated water down the street” and into sensitive streams, she added.

They have been sending some water down a much smaller sewer line, and are considering dumping it through de-chlorination pads on fields nearby. They are also “exercising” the valves – basically opening and closing them – in hopes of getting a better seal so more water doesn’t keep coming in, Riggins said.

“We’re not getting a really good shutdown right now,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a battle right there.”

About 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George's counties have been ordered to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars and limit their use of toilets, dishwashers and washing machines through the Fourth of July weekend after officials shut down a huge water main in Potomac on Thursday. Still, Riggins said the commission is estimates the mandatory restrictions will last at least four days.

“We can’t lift the restrictions until we get this main back into service,” she said. “We’d hope to be able to lift them at some point on Monday.” SOURCE: Washington Post

SURGE: $30 billion more for Afghanistan plus pork

Despite pessimism that the war in Afghanistan is turning out to be a quagmire, Democrats controlling the House muscled through a plan Thursday to finance President Barack Obama's troop surge, but only after sweetening the measure with last-ditch moves to salvage their faltering jobs agenda. Long delayed, the approximately $80 billion bill was passed amid building pressure on Democrats to act before their weeklong Fourth of July break begins. But the Senate approved a significantly slimmer measure in May and it'll take additional weeks to reconcile the differences between the two battling chambers.

The crucial vote to advance the measure under unusually convoluted floor rules came on a 215-210 tally to bring up the nearly $60 billion Senate-passed measure for debate. Democrats added more than $20 billion for domestic programs late Thursday, including $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, $5 billion for Pell Grants to low-income college students and $700 million to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Black lawmakers won add-ons of their own, including a $1 billion youth summer jobs initiative and money to pay discrimination claims by black farmers against the Agriculture Department

The White House weighed in with a veto threat over $800 million in cuts to education programs. The cuts would be used to help pay for the additional domestic spending, which was sought by top Democrats such as Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin. The move infuriated Obey, who acidly pointed out that he had drafted legislation last year that contained the money and that even with the $800 billion cut, more than $3 billion would be left over.

The $60 billion Senate-passed measure blends $30 billion for the influx of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan with money for disaster aid accounts, foreign aid and disability benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The Senate passed it in May, but House leaders spent weeks trying to solve the puzzle of how to pass it over the reservations of an increasing number of anti-war House Democrats. The delays have eroded whatever leverage House Democrats may have in upcoming dealings with the Senate and the White House, which seem to want the war funding bill signed into law as soon as possible.

The House measure will receive a cold reception from Senate Republicans, who would have the votes to filibuster it, according to Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, a senior Republican whose support was central to Senate passage. SOURCE: Huffington Post

Water restrictions in effect for Montgomery County

This 4th of July weekend, there will surely be plenty of fireworks. But when it comes to waterworks, you may not see as much in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. WSSC has issued mandatory water restrictions for 2 million of its customers, after crews discovered a 96-inch water main ready to burst Thursday. As crews continue repairs on the faulty pipe, WSSC spokesperson Lynn Riggins said Friday morning, "We made tremendous progress overnight."

The fiber optic sensors in the 8-foot water pipe actually picked up the sound of reinforcing wires snapping.

"Yesterday, we started digging down on the pipe and we've exposed the wires and confirmed that ... the wires that support the pipe were starting to fail," Riggins said.

Now, crews are working to drain the pipe so they can cut the failing section out and replace it. Meanwhile WSSC is asking customers to cut their water usage by a third.

"Customers we need your full cooperation with these water restrictions, we understand its a holiday weekend and I know its inconvenient," Riggins said.

The repairs will take at least four days and that means no outside or inside water use.

"No water, well, we'll just have to suffer a little bit," one resident said.

WSSC wants all customer to conserve water until the repairs are completed, including no topping off swimming pool, watering lawns and washing cars. Inside the home, customers should limit showering, washing dishes and clothing.

"Cutting back on washing clothes, I'll just probably have a mound," one woman said.

WSSC say the sacrifice is worth it to avoid another disaster like the River Road water main break. After a "failing" pipe was discovered on Tuckerman Lane Thursday, WSSC officials said, "There's been increase activity of wire break in the last 24 hours so that led us to shut the main down."

Officials say sensors have pinpointed the exact week spot on the eight-foot water main. A four-foot pipe is being used as a back up over the next 3 days. WSSC says they're working with local fire departments to ensure that there is plenty of protection this holiday weekend, considering there will likely be many firework displays. SOURCE: WJLA

July 1, 2010

Another car wreck victim in Montgomery County

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - One person killed in an accident overnight in College Park. It happened when two cars crashed into each other in the 9400 block of Cherry Hill Road around 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The car the victim was in burst into flames. Three other people were seriously hurt. Parts of Cherry Hill Road will be closed as investigators remain on the scene.

Landon School and its drama

Everything along the winding drive that leads to the Landon School for boys proclaims privilege: the emerald athletic field to the right, the 11 tennis courts to the left, the steady hiss of sprinklers that keep the 75-acre campus verdant even during the hottest days of summer. But the school, in one of Bethesda's priciest neighborhoods, has been shaken to its core in the past year by an unusual series of events.

Parents complained about the behavior of a coach who allegedly told his players about his sex life and took them to Hooters. Four white students accused an African American honors student of cheating, leading to a disciplinary proceeding that some African American teachers considered unfair. A group of boys was caught devising a game in which they would earn points based on sex acts with girls, and then a top official told an assembly that he knows people who don't want their daughters "hanging out with 'Landon guys.' " And for the first time, the school's trustees decided it was time to investigate a long-standing perception held by some parents and teachers that Landon treats top athletes and wealthy boys more favorably than other students. With all this, officials say what shook them the most was the arrest of one of Landon's former star athletes, George Huguely V, in the death of his former girlfriend at the University of Virginia.

"We are still reeling from it," said Thomas Cunningham, chairman of Landon's board of trustees. "That had a huge emotional impact on this community and this institution. The human reaction would be, 'Could I, should I, would I have done something differently, with a 15- or 16-year-old kid?' And the answer is no."

Now the 81-year-old school is immersed in self-examination. It is also assessing, among other things, whether the school is too accepting of teenage misbehavior and whether it fosters troubling attitudes toward women. Many schools, public and private, face disciplinary issues. Prince George's County authorities, for instance, are investigating the beating of a student in a Bowie High School hallway a few weeks ago that came to light after video of the incident was posted on Facebook. Ballou High School in the District had more than a dozen small fires this year, mostly in stairwells and bathrooms.

But it is rare to find so many challenges in such a short time at a school like Landon. Parents pay nearly $30,000 a year to send their boys there, even though many of them live near some of the best public schools in the nation. Details of the incidents in this report were obtained through interviews with more than a dozen parents and other knowledgeable sources. All asked not to be named, citing fear of retaliation. Cunningham, speaking on behalf of the school, confirmed many of the allegations. Other top school officials declined to be interviewed. Alone, each of the episodes might not have led to the questions Landon's leaders are asking. But the cumulative impact became too powerful to ignore.

"There is a good-old-boy mentality that still exists," one parent of an athlete said. " 'Boys will be boys. They just horse around and then it crosses the line, and then we need to reel them back in.' That just doesn't work in today's society anymore."

Landon was founded just before the stock market crash of 1929 by a young teacher, Paul Landon Banfield, and his wife, Mary Lee. Their descendants still attend. One wore a shirt to graduation that listed all of the Banfield boys who had walked Landon's halls, including the name of a young relative not yet old enough to enroll. CONTINUE READING: Washington Post

Former Governor Ehrlich picks Montgomery County's Mary Kane as LG candidate

Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) reached into vote-rich Montgomery County on Wednesday night, tapping Mary D. Kane, a former Maryland secretary of state from Potomac, as his running mate for this year's rematch against Gov. Martin O'Malley. Ehrlich's choice of a lieutenant governor candidate, announced in a 10 p.m. posting on Facebook, appeared aimed at improving the Republican's prospects in the state's largest jurisdiction and among women. Polls show Ehrlich trails the Democratic incumbent among female voters. Ehrlich plans to introduce Kane, 48, Thursday morning in Silver Spring, and the newly minted ticket will formally file for office Friday, aides said.

In a statement Wednesday night, Ehrlich, whose campaign has focused largely on jobs and the economy, promoted Kane's business background. He said she has "a great mix of experience in government and the private sector." Kane, well known in Maryland political circles, has worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since January 2008 as director of special projects. The choice carries at least one potentially significant risk: An office moving company owned by Kane's husband, John, has been sued by the federal government for allegedly paying its workers less than required by federal contracts and for submitting "false and fraudulent documents" indicating it was in compliance over several years.

Mary Kane, a lawyer, was a member of the board of directors of the Kane Co. from 1997 to 2003, according to a state-issued biography, when much of the alleged misconduct is said to have taken place. John Kane, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, has denied that any fraud took place and has called the allegations overblown. He has said in news reports that the allegations originated through the complaints of a disgruntled former employee. The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Mary Kane's name has circulated as a possible Ehrlich running mate for weeks, though Ehrlich kept his choice a closely guarded secret until it was announced on the social networking site. In a brief interview Tuesday night, Ehrlich said that "personal compatibility and philosophical compatibility" were the dominant factors in his selection. Ehrlich said gender and geography were "secondary" issues.

Some Republican insiders suggested, however, that both factors played a strong role in the selection. Jeanne Allen, a national charter schools advocate who also lives in Montgomery County, was among other candidates Ehrlich closely considered, sources familiar with the process said.

A Washington Post poll in May found O'Malley led Ehrlich among registered voters by 49 percent to 41 percent -- an eight percentage point gap. Among female voters statewide, the gap was 17 points. Among Montgomery voters, it was 30 points. Ehrlich has acknowledged he will have to run stronger than he did in 2006 in the Washington region -- and in Montgomery in particular -- to beat O'Malley.

Although it tilts Democratic, Montgomery has more registered Republicans -- about 120,000 -- than any Maryland jurisdiction except Baltimore County. Montgomery is also home to nearly 110,000 registered independents -- nearly a quarter of all those in Maryland. Kane ran twice for public office herself, both times unsuccessfully: In 2000, she sought a seat on the Montgomery County Council. In 2002, she fell short in a bid for the state House of Delegates. Kane was named deputy secretary of state in March 2003, shortly after Ehrlich was sworn in as Maryland's first Republican governor in a generation. She ascended to secretary of state in August 2005, a post she held until Ehrlich left office in January 2007.

A Delaware native, Kane previously worked as an aide to then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and in the legislative office of the American Trucking Association. In two previous running mate picks, Ehrlich showed a flair for the bold.

In 2002, he tapped Michael S. Steele, who became the state's first African American lieutenant governor and is now chairman of the Republican National Committee. In his losing effort in 2006, Ehrlich picked Kristen Cox, who is legally blind. She was secretary of his Department of Disabilities. Ehrlich said he gave serious consideration this year to about 10 to 12 possible candidates. SOURCE: Washington Post

June 30, 2010

Judge acquits 3 defendants in Robert Wone trial

WASHINGTON - Three romantically linked men who lived in a posh D.C. neighborhood were acquitted Tuesday of misleading police in the investigation of a mysterious stabbing death at the men's town house in 2006. D.C. Superior Judge Lynn Leibovitz said despite "suspicious and even damning circumstances," prosecutors did not prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt after a five-week trial. Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky had been charged with obstructing justice and conspiracy after 32-year-old lawyer Robert Wone, of Oakton, Va., was stabbed to death in a guest room at their home.

The three defendants lived together as a self-described family in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. They insisted the stabbing was committed by an intruder, but there were no signs of struggle or forced entry. Prosecutors claimed the men's unusual relationship showed the intensity of their bond, and that they would be willing to lie to protect each other and their family members. Leibovitz read her 35-page order to a packed courtroom as the defendants looked on with little expression. She said it was very probable the government's theory that all or some of the defendants withheld helpful information from investigators was correct, but she couldn't find the men guilty.

"My focus on the difference between 'moral certainty' and 'evidentiary certainty' in this case is probably cold comfort to those who loved Robert Wone and wish for some measure of peace or justice, and I am extremely sorry for this," Leibovitz said.

The night Wone was killed, he had arranged with Price, a friend from college, to stay at the house after working late, rather than return to his Oakton home about 20 miles from the town home. Wone was by all accounts happily married to a woman. Prosecutors believe he was incapacitated and sexually assaulted before he was killed.

Prosecutors offered theories about who killed Wone, including one or more of the defendants and Price's brother, Michael. Prosecutors portrayed Price, a lawyer, as the leader of a cover-up, and the judge noted in her order when Ward began to talk to officers on the night of Wone's slaying, Price "gave him a stare the officers interpreted as forbidding." Ward was then quiet and Price gave a statement, continued to do most of the talking and led police on a tour of the town home, the judge said.

The mystery captured the attention of many around the Washington region. According to their statements, Zaborsky and Price discovered Wone's body, and Ward emerged from his bedroom later, after hearing the commotion. Prosecutors questioned why Price and Zaborsky didn't immediately check on Ward if they believed a dangerous intruder was in the house. Ward's bedroom was next to the room in which Wone was found. All three men declined to comment as they left the courthouse. Price's lawyer Bernie Grimm said his client will now have to regroup.

"Mr. Price, through this ordeal, is virtually bankrupt," Grimm said. "He lost his home, he lost his family, he lost his job and now he's going to try to get his life back."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner called the judge's verdict thoughtful and well-reasoned.

"We respect and accept the judge's verdict," he said. "Everybody knew this was a challenging investigation and prosecution."

Prosecutors had hoped to get justice for Wone's parents and wife, Kirschner said, but the case will remain open so they can pursue charges in the slaying if new evidence is found.

Earlier this month, Leibovitz acquitted Zaborsky and Ward of tampering with physical evidence. Price was acquitted of that charge Tuesday. SOURCE: FOX DC


On the Net:


June 29, 2010

School lunch program expands to school #8

In Maryland, federal money will allow Montgomery County to extend its free summer lunch program to an eighth school. Rolling Terrace elementary school will now offer free lunches during the summer, which any child who comes to the school can receive. Schools superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast says without federal money, the extension couldn't have happened because of the county's tight budget. He says fed students make better students, even during the summer. "What we don't want in all of the hub-bub, with all of the big problems that exist, is for us to lose out on this one problem, which really makes a difference in the lives of families," says Weast. Since the program started in 2006, it has seen an increase in participants of more than 34 percent. Last summer, the school system served over 333,000 meals. SOURCE: WAMU

Russian spies arrested in DC

By ROBY CHAVEZ/myfoxdc WASHINGTON - FBI agents arrested 10 people on charges that they spent years in the United States as spies for Russia, taking on fake identities and making connections to think tanks and government officials. Court documents indicated they were masters at secret clandestine meetings, invisible writing and foreign languages.


Criminal Complaint #1

Criminal Complaint #2

Two of people arrested, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills, lived in Arlington. They both lived in a no-frills apartment complex on S. Joyce Street as husband and wife. A third person, Mikhail Semenko, was also arrested at his residence in Arlington. Semenko is fluent in Russian, English, Mandarin and Spanish. He worked at the Travel All Russia travel agency in Arlington. The others lived what appeared to be normal lives in Yonkers, New York and New Jersey. The busted spy ring has brought international intrigue to the Washington suburbs. Neighbors said Zottoli and Mills had children and were shocked to hear spies may be living among them in the suburbs.

"I guess if I was a spy, I’d want to live here too. You're not in the middle of D.C. You're away from everyone else. You can blend in better. So, why not?" said Will Lewis.

In all, 10 people from the group dubbed "Illegals" were arrested for being part of a “deep cover” Russian spy ring. With names like Murphy, Heathfield, Foley and Mills, their mission was to become as "Americanized" as possible. The government says they were anything but that, except with American birth certificates. However, they were allegedly receiving extensive training by the Russian government. In Arlington, many are intrigued that the spy ring operated in their backyard.

"It's surprising to hear it's going on in Arlington. I walk by people in this building all the time. It's disconcerting to know there are actual Russian spies," said Kevin Teague.

All of this coming a week after where President Obama was all smiles in Arlington with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the so-called “Burger Diplomacy.” But just blocks away, according to court documents, lived Mills and Zottoli. Both are accused of picking up money sent by the Russian government that was buried in New York's Central Park. According to the documents, all of the spying was caught on video and listening devices. One intercepted message from Moscow's spy center read, "you were sent to USA for long term service trip ... To search and develop ties in policymaking circles in U.S. and send intels (intelligence reports) To C (center)." Some wonder what it will do to U.S. and Russian relations after this warm moment between the two leaders.

"It’s unfathomable. I know it happens. It's just unconscionable," said Lee Plaza.

Court documents indicate some of the alleged spies met with a former high ranking national security official, a person working on bunker-buster nuclear warheads and a major fundraiser for an unnamed political party. Officials said the Russian network appears to have accomplished little despite living in this country for up to two decades. SOURCE: FOX DC

What can the next University of Maryland president do?

This is a reprint of a Op-Ed piece from the Sunday Washington Post by Eric Olson a current member of the Prince George’s County Council and former Councilman from the City of College Park.

The August departure of C.D. Mote Jr. after 12 years as president of the University of Maryland is obviously a major moment for the institution. But it means just as much to the surrounding community, and it’s important that the person who is chosen to succeed him embrace a number of ideas that will move the university and community forward together. Local residents need a university president who truly becomes part of our Prince George’s County community and who shares in our efforts to increase opportunities at the elementary, secondary and higher education levels. We also want a partner in building an even stronger environment for job creation, energy efficiency and investment. Finally, residents seek redevelopment that would transform College Park into a more bustling “college town,” with all the unique restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and arts and culture of other major university communities.

Signals changed after traffic mess

Here we go again. Montgomery County's Traffic Management Center had an issue Tuesday morning that caused traffic signals to fall out of sync, according to a county police spokesman. Normally lights favor heavy traffic patterns during rush hour, allowing longer green lights for inbound drivers, but that was not the case Tuesday morning. The signals returned to normal by 10 a.m., but some major corridors in the county still had back-ups, including Route 29 and Georgia Avenue. Some commuters said they were still trying to make it into work at that time. There was a similar problem for a couple of days in November 2009. The signals being out of sync caused major back-ups for morning and evening commuters. Some intersections were manually controlled to help with the flow of traffic. A Montgomery County traffic spokesman had not returned NBC4's calls for comment as of this writing. SOURCE: NBC Washington

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan Endorses Ilaya Hopkins for District 1 County Council Seat

BETHESDA, MD – June 28, 2010 – Ilaya Hopkins, candidate for the District 1 seat on the Montgomery County Council, today announced that former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan endorsed her for the District 1 County Council seat.

“It’s an honor to have Doug Duncan’s support in my bid for the Montgomery County Council District 1 election,” said Hopkins. “During his 12-year tenure, Doug provided visionary, decisive leadership that transformed the county into a national public education leader, a model for smart growth, and an economic engine for the state. I am proud to be associated with his tremendous record of accomplishment for our county and communities.”

“It is with great pride and a sense of hope that I endorse Ilaya Hopkins for the Montgomery County Council District 1 seat,” Duncan said. “I have gotten to know Ilaya through her community work and her recent campaign. She is an exceptional leader, with a strong track record of success serving her community. Now more than ever, we need leaders who will focus on the real challenges Montgomery County is now facing – exploding budget deficits, over capacity in schools, choked roads and fleeing businesses. Ilaya has the courage and vision we need to make the tough decisions that will once again put Montgomery County back on track and provide the quality of life we deserve,” said Duncan.

Doug Duncan served as Montgomery County Executive from 1994-2006. During his tenure, Duncan improved educational excellence, strengthened environmental protections, fought poverty and urban blight, and positioned Montgomery County as an international biotechnology leader. Among his many accomplishments, Duncan invested in education to reduce class sizes, hire more teachers and provide all-day kindergarten. Under Duncan, Montgomery high schools consistently ranked in the nation’s top three percent. His administration preserved more farmland and open space than any other county in the nation and invested in mass transit to relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality. He led efforts to invest $2 billion in public and private sector funds that transformed Silver Spring into a model of smart growth and urban development. Under his leadership, 85,000 jobs were created and Montgomery County enjoyed the lowest unemployment in the state.

About Ilaya Hopkins serves on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Implementation Committee, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board where she co-chairs the Quality of Life committee, and is a board member of Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices. She chaired the Coalition of Military Medical Center Neighbors, which has members who represent 10,000 people who live, work, attend school and do business in the vicinity of the Medical Center Metro, home to the new Walter Reed National Medical Military Center in Bethesda. She is the immediate past president of the East Bethesda Citizens Association, a neighborhood group of 1,200 houses adjacent to the Bethesda Central Business District between East West Highway and Jones Bridge Road. She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery, active in the Rosemary Hills Primary and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools PTAs and is a member of Montgomery Women. She lives in Bethesda with her husband and two sons.

To learn more about Ilaya, her position on the issues and campaign activities visit www.ilayahopkins.com. You can follow Ilaya on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ilayahopkins and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ilayahopkins.

The Republican and Democratic primary is Tuesday, Sep. 14th, 2010 and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 2nd.

After $4.5 million renovation, Bethesda Theatre is broke

A debt-ridden, historic theater in Bethesda, Maryland, is going on the auction block. Supporters of the Bethesda Theatre hope the landmark will soon see another opening of another show. The Bethesda Theatre you see today looks an awful lot like the one you would have seen back in 1938, when it opened as a movie house. But a mere three years after a multi-million-dollar renovation restored the Bethesda to its art-deco glory, the theater which has been home to musicals, plays and other shows, is in default, for more than $4.5 million. So it's being sold to the highest bidder.

A nonprofit group called Save The Bethesda Theatre isn't worried about the landmark transforming into a department store or parking lot since Montgomery County requires the real estate be used as a cultural arts center. But supporters do fear the theater going dark and staying that way, since they don't yet know of any potential buyers. Still, they're hoping someone will step up today who agrees that for one historic theater in Bethesda, Maryland the show must go on. SOURCE: WAMU

Crash survivors remember Muhammad brothers in Silver Spring

SILVER SPRING, Md. - In less than a week, four teens have died in accidents on our local roads. Now, two crash survivors speak out about the dangers. They're battered and bruised but Kayla Jackson and Ami Nata are thankful to be alive. Late last week, they were riding in the backseat of a car when it crashed into a telephone pole.

"All I see is a light and we hit a curb then it's black again," remembered Kayla Jackson

The driver was 20-year-old Idris Muhammad. In the passenger seat was his 19-year-old brother Khalifah.

"I'm screaming their name and their not moving - not flinching, nothing," said Ami Nata

The brothers didn't survive, and Monday hundreds of their friends and family members filled Northwood High School to remember them. Khalifah was a freshman at Morehouse College. His brother a graduate of Kennedy High School. Positive young men with bright futures cut short but these grieving family members aren't alone.

"I been watching the news lately and there have been so many accidents happening constantly. I'm like 'what is this?'" said Ami Nata.

On Sunday, Justin Dorsey died on River Road in Montgomery County (web | news) . Last week, another teen died in a crash in La Plata. Haki Muhammad can only hope that something positive will come out of so much tragedy.

"I think the one thing their friends are learning is when I get I the car, I'm puttin' on my seatbelt, I'm putting two hands on the wheel, I'm not texting," said Muhammad.

"It's not worth it 'cause I lost two really good friends and I'm gonna go through it for a really long time," said Kayla Jackson.

Now the Muhammad family has to bear the cost of burying the brothers. The brothers' family has set up a fund for them. To donate, you can go to any Bank of America branch and donate to the account under the name of their mother, Nisa Muhammad (in Maryland).

MARC train misses stop

The MTA just cannot get out of its own way these days. Because we get point after point after point about the culture of failure that has seeped into every pore of that agency. Even I, as much of a critic as I am, understand that mistakes happen and that sometimes things break. But when you skip major MARC stations without a reasonable explanation, forcing riders to doubleback, it makes you wonder what kind of circus Ralign Wells is running over there. It is time (still) for Martin O'Malley to clean house over at the MTA and send a message to transit users that the continued failure of the Agency is no longer acceptable. SOURCE: Red Maryland

STORY The Penn Line 538 train -- the same one that was stranded in the blazing heat last week -- missed its stop at the heavily used Odenton stop Monday night. Riders who wanted to get off at Odenton had to get off at the BWI Airport station and take a southbound train back to their station. According to riders who reported this turn of events, the explanation was that "track conditions" prevented the stop at Odenton. Since the train apparently rumbled right through the station, passengers were skeptical of that explanation -- as am I. Even though this was an action of an Amtrak crew, the MTA owes riders a credible explanation. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

June 28, 2010

PISSED OFF: Montgomery County government can't afford johns

Montgomery County parks are about to go potty-less, thanks to budget cuts at the county's Department of Parks. Portable toilets, installed to give hundreds of park visitors a proper spot to heed nature's call, are set to be removed June 30. The county has more than 80 potties in more than 80 parks, said Montgomery parks spokeswoman Kelli Holsendolph. Meanwhile, Gene Giddens, the acting deputy parks director, said he is readying procedures so that groups can sponsor a potty at the same discounted rates the county has paid Don's Johns, under a $154,900 contract that covered portable toilets in county parks. But the prospect of parks with no portable toilets has some county residents worked up.

"It's not just a convenience, it's a public health matter," said Jim Zepp of Silver Spring, whose friend Fiona Morrissey ran her own successful crusade four years ago to get a portable toilet at their neighborhood park, North Four Corners, in Silver Spring.

Now Morrissey is worried that she again might have to wash people poop off her dogs after a walk in the park. Waste also draws rats, and Zepp and his wife, Carole Ann Barth, an environmental planner, said parks that should be a public amenity could become a public nuisance. Morrissey said she had better things to do in the spring of 2006 than tail grown men, including many who gathered for soccer games, into the brush to document their relieving themselves in public. But when they ignored her pleas not to poop in the park, she took notes and called park police who arrived within 10 minutes and issued $50 fines. After days of poop patrol and police calls, the potty that Morrissey said she was told they'd have to wait years for was installed in a few days.

"I'm from Ireland — we don't take any crap," she said.

Under a deal park officials worked out with Don's Johns, a sanitation services company based in Chantilly, Va., sponsoring a standard potty for three months would cost $165, and sponsoring a handicapped-accessible potty would cost $198. The prices include weekly service and a charge that covers damage to the portable facility. Everyone would get to use the potties, and sponsors would get signs on the potties acknowledging their donations.

PICTURE: Anthony Castellano/The Gazette Carole Barth, president of the Northwood-Four Corners Civic Association, and NFCCA member Jim Zepp say they may lose the portable toilet that their organization lobbied for at North Four Corners Park in Silver Spring.
SOURCE: Gazette

Severe weather in Montgomery County

Temperatures break records

WASHINGTON - High temperatures have set records in Washington and Baltimore. The thermometer at Reagan National Airport on Sunday reached 99 degrees, breaking the 98-degree mark for June 27 that had been in place for 30 years. Baltimore also set a record with a temperature of 100 degrees, eclipsing a 58-year-old mark by one degree. D.C. fire and emergency personnel say they are fielding more calls than usual amid the high temperatures. Fire and EMS department spokesman Pete Piringer says over the past week, the agency received average of 565 calls per day, up from an average of about 450 calls. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 90s Monday. SOURCE: FOX DC

Teen dies in Gaithersburg car wreck

On Monday morning, a Gaithersburg teenager became the 27th person killed in a car crash in Montgomery County this year. Through June 28, 2009, there were only 13 fatalities, police said. Montgomery County Police spokesman Dan Friz said he had no idea why the number has nearly doubled this year. Justin Xavier Dorsey, 17, was pronounced dead at 6:01 a.m. at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., a day after he was a passenger in a car involved in a crash in Darnestown. Dorsey was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition Sunday, Friz said.

Dorsey was a passenger in a gold 2002 Toyota Echo that was traveling west in the 15500 block of River Road at about 5:50 p.m. Sunday when it crossed into the eastbound lane, Friz said. Police have not said how the Echo, driven by 17-year-old Ryan Sparks of Gaithersburg, hit an oncoming 2009 Mercedes C63 driven by Daniel Peter Schwartz, 31, of Burke, Va.

"We're not sure where Mr. Dorsey was seated in the car, but we know there were five teens in the car," Friz said by phone Monday. "We're not sure what caused the car to swerve into oncoming traffic at this time, but we are actively investigating."

The four other teens in Sunday's crash were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Friz said. Schwartz also suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville. Sunday's fatal accident is the second weekend crash county police are investigating. The first occurred about 7 p.m. Friday. Bicyclist Stanton Sylvester Miller Jr., 48, of Gaithersburg, was struck by a tan 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe in the 22300 block of Ridge Road while riding north in the road's paved right shoulder, according to police. The Tahoe's driver, Quinzy Reginald Fraser, 34, of Clarksburg, was traveling north on Ridge Road when his vehicle left the lane for unknown reasons, according to police. Fraser, 34, a former University of Maryland football player in the late 1990s, was charged with second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest on Saturday, according to an online state court records database. He is being held on $200,000 bond. SOURCE: Gazette

WHAT RECESSION? Leggett extends paid-off time to workers

Montgomery County employees are set to receive extra paid time off next year amid layoffs for fellow workers and shrinking county services, according to union agreements obtained by The Washington Examiner. County Executive Ike Leggett has signed off on an arrangement granting municipal employees and police officers 26 hours more in paid leave next year. Firefighters would get an extra 48 hours.

Officials call it a concession to a county work force forced to take furloughs in coming months. Depending on salary, workers will take between three and eight days of unpaid vacation. School employees are not being furloughed. However, some were flabbergasted with the agreement, saying it sends the wrong message to residents -- who will pay roughly $250 in new taxes next fiscal year, go without toilets in public parks, and pay to park at certain libraries because of the county's unprecedented $1 billion shortfall.

"I think it's a bad idea; it's not justified," said Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville. "It's a bad move to increase leave when you're already reducing services."

Andrews said county employees will use the new leave days in place of already granted time off. In effect, he says, it will lead to a buildup of vacation days for employees that must be paid out in future years. Leggett, in a memo to the council, says the new agreement will have no fiscal effect. Council staff is examining the validity of that assertion, officials told The Examiner. The County Council is slated to review the bargaining agreements next month. Union leaders say the paid hiatus is small consolation for broken promises from county leaders. In addition to furloughs, the county halted so-called phantom cost of living increases pledged to county workers that were supposed to supplement frozen wages.

"The county should have cut management, not the front-line work force," said Gail Heath, special assistant to the president of the Municipal County Government Employees Organization. "We didn't make those decisions. We've been lobbying for a sustainable government for years. We are very top-heavy."

And Leggett's representatives called the compromise necessary to appease burned employees.

"We felt we would be able to do this with very little impact to county services," said spokesman Patrick Lacefield. "That's just 26 hours in a 2,040-hour work year. It's a pretty small amount of work." SOURCE: Washington Examiner

Watch Montgomery County School board meeting live at 6 PM today

The Board of Education's business meeting will be webcast and cablecast live at 6:00 p.m., Monday, June 28. You need the free Windows MediaPlayer on your computer to view the meeting and you can watch on TV on Cable channels 34 (Comcast), 36 (Verizon), and 89 (RCN). Click here to go to the page to see meeting live.

Clarksburg Man Charged in Bicyclist Killing

A Clarksburg man with a previous DUI is under investigation for driving off a road and killing a bicyclist, resisting arrest, and attempting to assault a police officer. SOURCE: WJLA

Montgomery County ends use of port-a-potty in parks

Here is another cut that the county government must make to fund the bloated public school system which is not even a county government agency. The Montgomery County Parks Department has announced they are forced to close the port-a-johns in the County Parks. So, all you coaches, and moms and dads, make sure you have a place for Johnny and Suzie to pee, because it won’t be in a port-a-potty. And be sure to drop a line to Board of Education president Pat O'Neill and to the County Council who approved the MCPS budget to say thanks. O'Neill's email address is here. Or, you can call her at 301-320-7600. As for the County Council, their email address is here. The President of the Council which approved the budget is Nancy Floreen and her email address is here. SOURCE: Parent's Coalition of MC

June 27, 2010

Miss Montgomery County becomes Miss Maryland

Lindsay Staniszewski, Miss Montgomery County, has been crowned the new Miss Maryland. Staniszewski of Edgewater will receive a $10,000 scholarship and other gifts. She also will represent the state at the Miss America pageant. Twenty-two young women were vying Saturday at the downtown Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown for the title of Miss Maryland. The winner of the pageant succeeds Miss Maryland 2009 Brooke Poklemba (poh-KLEM-bah), of Westminster. Also at the event, Mary Teal Mulligan of Williamsport, Miss Hagerstown Outstanding Teen, was named Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen 2010. SOURCE: WJZ

Lack of water and gardening

WASHINGTON - Have you noticed the grass outside your home turning brown? Your flower beds wilting? Evergreens dying? You're not alone and we have Mother Nature to thank for this unsettling development in just the opening week into the Summer of 2010. The sweltering heat and lack of rain together spell doom for our lawns and gardens - unless we keep them properly irrigated. Experts in lawn care and gardening say potted plants and flowers should be watered daily. Trees should be given a slow soaking that feeds deep roots. Using a hose to spray water on trees doesn't work, according to nursery manager Bill Teel at American Plant Food in Bethesda. That just encourages roots to come to the surface to get their water where they will dry out faster.

Teel says water your lawn as long as there are no restrictions but don't worry if the grass dies. He says grass likes cooler weather and will come back to life as temperatures moderate. When you water, Teel and other lawn experts we spoke to, say do so in the early morning. He says that is better than during the day or at night. And don't over do it. Don't water your trees too much. Teel says that will create root rot - which could also kill. SOURCE: MY FOX