THE DISTRICT

Curbs Sought on Office Rentals by City

The D.C. government would not be allowed to rent new office space unless it could "certify" to Congress that it did not have any other buildings in its inventory that might satisfy its needs under a provision Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.) has included in the House version of the city's 2000 budget bill.

The amendment also would require that by the end of November, the city move to renegotiate or terminate leases on any buildings that it rents but does not occupy. And by the end of March, the city would not be allowed by law to pay rent on any buildings that remained vacant.

The proposals are motivated by a June report that D.C. government has spent nearly $2 million over the last seven years to rent two vacant Columbia Heights apartment buildings. Istook, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District, criticized what he called "waste and mismanagement," and then moved to include these restrictions in the budget bill.

City officials said they welcome Istook's interest but are concerned landlords will be reluctant to rent to the city or might charge higher rents because of the risk that the city might stop paying rent on properties.

School Planning Meetings Open to Public

The D.C. school system will kick off a series of planning meetings on updating school facilities this afternoon at Barnard Elementary School in Northwest Washington, one of eight elementary schools scheduled for modernization starting next fiscal year.

The public is invited to Barnard, at 430 Decatur St. NW, from 2 to 5 p.m. to consult with officials charged with designing guidelines for rebuilding and updating the District's aging elementary schools. Additional meetings will be held this summer at the seven other schools scheduled for an overhaul.

Boys and Girls Club Open House

Children and parents are invited to attend an open house from 1:30 to 4 p.m. today at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, 261 17th St. SE. Jason Miskiri, of the Washington Wizards, on-air WPGC-FM personality "Tiger" and other special guests will be there to help launch an initiative to get 15,000 children from across the country to join the 139-year-old organization.

Post Cereal has contributed $85,000 to help fund enrollment fees for new and existing club members. The more than 2,300 Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide offer programs in character and leadership development, career preparation, the arts and sports for urban youngsters ages 6 to 18.

MARYLAND

Car Exhaust Fatally Poisons Woman

A Virginia woman died yesterday when a car left running in a garage pumped carbon monoxide into a waterfront condominium in Annapolis, police said. Four other people were hospitalized.

An unidentified 20-year-old woman, a guest in the three-story home, died at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Authorities were withholding her name pending notification of relatives.

Douglas Hickman, 59; his wife, Anne, 60; and their two children, Douglas Jr., 22, and Emily, 20, were airlifted to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where Anne Hickman was listed in serious condition and her husband and two children were treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Investigators were trying to determine how and why the car was left running. Firefighters found lethal levels of the gas in six nearby homes and evacuated them.

Crash Kills Charles County Man

A Charles County man was fatally injured early Sunday when his car ran a red light and was struck by an oncoming vehicle on Route 4 near Forestville, Maryland State Police said.

Christopher M. Groves, 27, of Bryans Road, was driving a car east on Suitland Parkway in Prince George's County about 1:15 a.m. when he ignored a red light and tried to merge onto Route 4, police said. As Croves entered the intersection, his car was hit by a sport-utility vehicle driven by Joseph Rogers Williams, 41, of Upper Marlboro, police said.

Croves was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Both men were wearing seat belts. Investigators said no charges are pending.

VIRGINIA

Liberties Groups Enter Church-State Case

Two civil liberties groups entered a court case yesterday over whether a university founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson should get state backing for $54.5 million in tax-exempt construction bonds.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed papers saying the bonds would breach the constitutional wall between church and state.

The Virginia College Building Authority last month decided to let a Richmond Circuit Court judge decide whether Regent University in Virginia Beach is entitled to the bonds. A hearing is set for July 30.

Regent, which offers eight graduate programs, has a governing board appointed by the Christian Broadcasting Network, also founded by Robertson. Its stated mission is to educate using biblical perspectives.

Utah Boy Mows His 37th Capitol Lawn

Ryan Tripp, 14, traveled to Richmond to mow his 37th state capitol lawn of the summer yesterday, part of his effort to raise awareness about organ donation and earn a spot in the record books.

Ryan began his journey June 1 in Salt Lake City and plans to finish his 50th capitol lawn on Aug. 9 in Honolulu. If he does, he will earn a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as the first person to cut grass in every state.

Ryan hopes to focus attention on the need for more Americans to sign up to be organ donors. Twelve people die each day waiting for organs, and there are 63,000 people on waiting lists, he told a group gathered on the Capitol lawn.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"A single Marine, with due diligence, can get by. The real problem is people with families. It's a sad indictment of society that somebody who's willing to give his life for his country gets paid close to minimum wage."

-- Thomas Loughlin, who heads the Marine Corps Community Services at Quantico Marine Corps Base.