THE DISTRICT

No Legal Action Against Neo-Nazis

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has decided not to pursue legal action against the organizers of the aborted neo-Nazi march that was planned for last Saturday, the city's top lawyer said yesterday.

Interim Corporation Counsel Robert Rigsby said a lawsuit against the American Nationalist Party, also called the Knights of Freedom, would not be practical. "The question became whether we wanted to expend precious resources from the city" in recovering what few assets the group might have, he said. He also said the group's members "have harmful and hateful and offensive views that a lawsuit would do nothing but bring to the fore."

The city deployed an extra 1,450 officers downtown for the march at a cost estimated at $500,000. Only four marchers showed up, and the event was canceled.

"Adding to the cost of the event by pursuing legal action without a reasonable chance of collecting is not in the public interest," Rigsby said in a statement.

School Board Negotiations Continue

Members of the D.C. Board of Education continued negotiations yesterday to try to resolve a messy leadership battle that has derailed the panel's work preparing for a return to power next summer.

Robert G. Childs (At Large), who is serving as the key mediator between warring factions, said he expects a resolution within the next few days that will include the reinstatement of Wilma R. Harvey (Ward 1) as president.

Harvey was ousted last month after six of the 11 board members accused her of failing to communicate with them. But one of the six, Childs, recently agreed to her reinstatement if an executive committee is set up to oversee her actions.

Negotiations are underway to determine the size of the committee and its precise powers. For example, board sources said, Harvey is balking at any arrangement requiring the committee to see and initial all of her outgoing correspondence.

Over the weekend, a few members of the anti-Harvey faction called a board meeting for yesterday. But it was canceled Monday, sources said, after other members refused to attend.

The board lost its power to oversee D.C. public schools in 1996 but is set to regain that authority by next June, and is supposed to be working on a transition plan.

MARYLAND

Panel Studying Cult Recruiting at Schools

Spurred by nervous parents, a legislative task force is examining reports that cults are recruiting at college campuses across Maryland.

No hard data exist on how many Maryland students join religious cults. The panel has commissioned a statewide survey of student advisers and campus officials.

Denny Gulick, a University of Maryland at College Park math professor who has been helping students deal with cults for 14 years, estimates that 50 to 100 of the campus's more than 30,000 students are cult members.

So far, much of the evidence gathered by the task force has been anecdotal.

The panel is supposed to determine the extent of any problem and recommend what can be done by Sept. 30.

The General Assembly created the panel last year in response to parents who said the International Church of Christ, an evangelical group, had recruited their children at College Park.

Audit Raises Questions in Arundel

The first audit of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. didn't find missing funds but has raised questions about bookkeeping practices at the quasi-public organization.

The audit, released Monday, showed the 15-member office spent $55,000 on travel and nearly $600,000 on promoting the county at events such as the Preakness horse races and an around-the-world yacht race.

Auditors also found a number of "significant deficiencies," such as assets being reported twice, and the agency's failure to adopt an operating budget or keep detailed minutes of meetings. Auditors also recommended that the agency hire a more qualified accountant.

The development group is run like a private company but has received about $6 million in taxpayer funds since it was privatized six years ago.

VIRGINIA

Lawyers Seek to Enforce Abortion Ban

Lawyers for Virginia asked a federal judge in Richmond yesterday to allow a law banning a type of late-term abortion to be enforced while its constitutionality is considered by an appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne did not rule after the hearing, but the state faces an uphill battle because Payne last month declared the law barring "partial birth" abortions unconstitutional and issued the injunction against its enforcement.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia and a group of abortion providers sued the state over the law, which took effect in July 1998. Payne found that the law was too vague and infringed on a woman's right to an abortion provided by the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys for Virginia argued that the state would suffer irreparable harm if the order stands pending appeal and that blocking the law would infringe on the democratic process.

THE REGION

All Metro Stations Now Take Credit Cards

Metrorail passengers now can purchase Farecards with credit cards at all 76 stations, the transit authority announced yesterday.

Since credit cards began being accepted at three Metro stations in March, the agency has expanded this form of payment across the system by introducing new Farecard machines that accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards.

Transit officials said that credit card payments are generating about $40,000 a day in sales.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"We all left for work on a Thursday morning. There was no indication whatsoever that any construction was coming. We came home, and it was all knocked down."

-- Kimberly Budnick, on discovering that 24 mature oak trees that separated her town house community from a high school had been felled as part of the "Mixing Bowl" highway reconstruction project.