WEEK IN REVIEW
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page C04
The quicksilver just wouldn't stop at Cardozo Senior High School. The yo-yo of pronouncing the school clean of mercury, then announcing another discovery and busing students elsewhere to study ended with the Environmental Protection Agency searching the whole school. The EPA will continue scouring the school until workers are sure there's no mercury left. They found contaminated clothing in three lockers and mercury in other places and then found other potentially dangerous substances, such as chemicals. Cardozo wasn't the only school closed because of mercury last week. Hardy Middle School also was closed -- for a day -- after students broke a thermometer that contained mercury.
The National Zoo's giant pandas couldn't get it together in attempts to mate, so zoo officials turned to artificial insemination of the female, Mei Xiang. The mating was left to nature at first, with the panda house closed to the public. But with giant panda females in heat only a few days a year, zoo officials didn't wait long before stepping in. A zoo scientist said such procedures have been successful in China about 60 percent of the time.
The homeless people who use the Franklin School shelter will lose their temporary lodgings under a plan to turn the historic downtown building into a boutique hotel. Closure notices went up at the shelter, then came down. At week's end, city officials said the homeless can stay in their shelter until further notice. The city has been working to find a replacement, and officials said clients will not be in the street. The plan for the Franklin School building is for it to be redeveloped into a small, hip hotel that developers said would generate $1 million in tax revenue annually.
The loophole that has allowed landlords to avoid offering buildings for sale to tenants before they sell to others might be on the way out. The so-called 95-5 law allows an owner to sell 95 percent of a building and avoid the mandatory tenant-purchase option. The D.C. Council's Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee approved a proposal to close the loophole. The proposal now goes to the full council.
The bosses of the Murder Inc. street gang got life in prison with no chance of parole. Kevin L. Gray got 26 life sentences and Rodney L. Moore got 14. Four of their lieutenants got life sentences as well. All were convicted in January 2003 of multiple homicides and drug conspiracy, and prosecutors said the gang was responsible for the deaths of 28 people from 1989 to 1999. More than a dozen relatives of those slain took the stand to urge the stiffest possible penalty.
The District has made some progress in attracting residents, but those age 35 to 54, when many families move to the suburbs, are still leaving. A study by a Brookings Institution demographer found that the city's population dropped nearly 20,000 between 2000 and July. The city, however, is outpacing the national growth rate for those 25 to 34.
Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes announced Friday that he will not seek another term in the Senate, ending a 34-year congressional career, in which the liberal Maryland Democrat played a role in crises ranging from the Watergate impeachment proceedings to the corporate accounting scandals earlier this decade.