Metro

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Maryland

Wal-Mart Donation to Ehrlich Targeted

A group formed to monitor Wal-Mart's business practices is calling on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to return a $4,000 political donation from the retailing giant as well as proceeds from a $1,000-per-person fundraiser the company held for Ehrlich in December.

Ehrlich (R) has promised to veto a bill that would effectively force Wal-Mart to boost spending on employee health benefits or make a contribution to the state's insurance program for the poor.

"If Governor Ehrlich is intent to vetoing this bill, he could at least reduce the appearance of being bought by the company," said Wal-Mart Watch spokeswoman Tracy Sefl.

Ehrlich's most recent campaign report lists the $4,000 contribution Jan. 12, the first day of the legislative session. State law prohibits candidates from raising money after noon that day.

Ehrlich's aides have said that the governor's view of the legislation is not affected by donations. Ehrlich has said that the bill sends a signal that the state is hostile to business.

Anne Arundel Man, 89, Reported Missing

Anne Arundel County police are looking for an 89-year-old man with short-term memory loss who was last seen at a gas station in Sykesville yesterday morning.

John M. Court, of the 900 block of Cumberstone Road in Harwood, is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and 125 pounds, with gray or white hair and green or blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a white baseball cap and driving a beige mid-size Dodge sedan bearing the license number NA 0036.

Police released a photo of Court, who is considered a "critical" missing person because of his age, the memory loss and a heart condition. Anyone with information is asked to call 410-222-1960.

Pr. George's Schools to Transfer Funds

The Prince George's County Council opted yesterday to allow schools to transfer more than $28 million among various spending accounts for this school year, said Chairman Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville). The decision, made without a formal vote of approval, clears the way for a $25.8 million reduction in the budget for instructional salaries, to $478 million, and a $13 million increase in the budget for administration expense, to $33.5 million, among other shifts.

Overall school spending for fiscal 2005 remained unchanged at $1.27 billion.

Although some council members raised concerns about the smaller instructional budget, schools chief Andre J. Hornsby described the transfers as essentially technical corrections for a system that is on the rebound from recent budget deficits. He told council members yesterday that the schools are expanding their teaching staffs.


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