WEEK IN REVIEW

Unbearable Threat An officer dismantles a mannequin with a polar bear's head at 14th and Irving streets NW.
Unbearable Threat An officer dismantles a mannequin with a polar bear's head at 14th and Irving streets NW. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fairfax School Board to Borrow $130MPanel Wants to Buy New Headquarters Building

The Fairfax County School Board approved a plan to borrow as much as $130 million to consolidate its headquarters into an office building that the district would purchase in the Falls Church area.

The investment would come as board members are launching an exhaustive budgetary review to find savings to meet a projected shortfall of $150 million. But board members said the investment would save money in the long term, even as school officials acknowledged that costs would outweigh savings by as much as $2.9 million in the first eight years of the loan, starting in fiscal 2013.

Nationals Park Makes Less Than ExpectedRent, Sales Tax Revenues Fall Short of Projections

The Washington Nationals shiny new ballpark isn't proving to be the moneymaker city officials promised it would be.

In its inaugural season, the stadium is on track to generate $13.5 million in sales taxes for the District, less than the $16.1 million city officials initially projected. Also, team owners have not paid $3.5 million in rent that was due in the spring; they contend that the ballpark is not "substantially complete."

Both the taxes and rent are used by the city to help pay the debt. The city says there's enough money to cover debt payments, but the rent dispute appears to be headed toward binding arbitration.

Subpoena Issued in D.C. Voting ProbeNo Explanation Yet Why Phantom Votes Appeared

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh has issued a subpoena for records from the company that supplies the city's voting equipment after thousands of phantom ballots appeared in early results of the Sept. 9 primary and raised doubts about whether the city can handle November's general election.

Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairman of a special committee probing the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, issued the subpoena to Sequoia Voting Systems. More than a week after the primary, elections board officials still have not provided a definitive explanation of what happened.

The primary brought out 13 percent of registered voters, and the November election is expected to draw a record number of voters.

Leggett Endorses Slot Machine ProposalPosition Shifts in Face of Budget Problems

Montgomery County's top elected official "reluctantly" endorsed a November ballot measure to legalize slot machines, reversing his long-standing opposition to state-run gambling and taking a position at odds with that of many county leaders.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) had signaled a shift earlier, but the announcement Thursday in a news release is his most definitive statement about a decision that a Leggett aide called an "excruciating dilemma." For at least the past eight years, Leggett has spoken out against legalizing slots, but his position has evolved as state and local budget problems have worsened.

Inmate Was Strangled, Autopsy FindsMan Died in Cell After Arrest in Officer's Slaying

An autopsy report says a 19-year-old inmate who died in June after being found unresponsive in his cell at the Prince George's County jail was strangled, possibly with a sheet, a towel or the "crux of the elbow." The report, delivered Thursday to investigators, confirms an initial finding that the death of Ronnie L. White, less than two days after he was charged in the slaying of a county police officer, was a homicide.

Even so, the report did not appear to settle a dispute that has raged since soon after White's death June 29, when County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) publicly cast suspicion on corrections officers, and the guards' union insisted that White's death was a suicide. State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey appeared to regard the issue as unresolved, saying of the possibility of suicide, "we haven't ruled out -- or in -- anything from that perspective."

Pr. George's Workers Face Furloughs2 Weeks Without Pay Approved in Budget Crunch

Faced with a $57 million budget shortfall, the Prince George's County Council voted unanimously to require almost 6,000 county workers to take two weeks of unpaid leave by mid-June to stave off what they described as a financial emergency. The action came despite warnings from workers and their unions of dire consequences to public safety if they are forced to take furloughs.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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