MARYLAND BRIEFING

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

Council Approves $5 Million Bailout of Hospital System

The Prince George's County Council approved an emergency resolution yesterday that will allow County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) to pay $5 million to the company that runs the county's hospital system but warned state leaders that they expect Annapolis to take on more responsibility for the ailing system.

"The line is being drawn in the sand," said County Council Chairman Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant).

A spokesman for Johnson said he will quickly sign the resolution. Dimensions Healthcare System came to terms with the county on conditions of the bailout, which the company said was needed to keep the hospital system's doors open.

The council altered those terms slightly yesterday. Members said that future county appropriations would require a "reconstitution" of the company's board of directors. But it stripped a provision Johnson had sought that would have given county officials the authority to name a majority of the board members.

Council members worried that the provision might send the wrong message that the county wants more control over the system. The council instead settled for the more open-ended language.

-- Rosalind S. Helderman

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

Security Agency Worker Is Charged in Financial Scheme

A National Security Agency employee from Severna Park has been charged with conflict of interest in the funneling of money from a government contract to a family-run business, authorities said yesterday.

Wayne J. Schepens, 37, was charged yesterday with one count of an act affecting a personal financial interest in U.S. District Court for Maryland.

Schepens was responsible for directing a cyber-defense exercise designed to grade cadets and midshipmen at military service academies on their ability to protect computer networks from attacks by hackers, according to the charge filed in court.

The government alleges that in 2004, Schepens directed that a sole-source subcontract for $340,000 be awarded to CDXperts Inc. The corporation was based at Schepens's home, and his wife served as chief executive, according to the charge.

-- Steve Vogel

HOWARD HEALTH DEPARTMENT

County Executive Chooses Ex-Baltimore Chief as Director

Peter L. Beilenson, the former health commissioner in Baltimore, has been nominated as Howard County's health officer by County Executive Ken Ulman (D).

From 1992 to 2005 in Baltimore, Beilenson oversaw 1,200 employees and managed a $225 million budget. Last year, he ran as a Democratic candidate for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District, placing second in a field of eight in the September primary.

Beilenson, 47, said the appeal of moving to a smaller county health department, where he would oversee 230 people and a $17 million budget, lies in the ability to design innovative prevention programs rather than emphasizing acute care needs caused by urban poverty and drug addiction. He praised Ulman's willingness to invest in long-term strategies.

Ulman's nomination of Beilenson to the $141,400 post must go before the County Council in the coming weeks. If approved, Beilenson would replace Penny Borenstein, who resigned after five years as Howard's health officer.

-- Susan DeFord

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Gaithersburg Girl, 15, Is Found by Police and Returns Home

A 15-year-old Gaithersburg girl missing for almost a week has returned home safely, Montgomery County police said yesterday. Lotty Sahonero disappeared after being seen last Wednesday at Watkins Mill High School but was located by police and went home yesterday afternoon, police said.

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