More Time to Catch a Train
Metro to Try 1 a.m. Closing
Washington, quite possibly, is growing up. And, like any kid pushing the limits, the city wants to stay out later than its current bedtime.
And it looks like the Metro board will give the go-ahead. Starting in November, the area's subway system will stay open an hour later on weekends, until 1 a.m., in an eight-month experiment. If the trial looks like a success after six months, the system might even throw caution to the wind, letting nightlife lovers ride the rails until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
It's quite a change from 1978, when trains quit for the night at 8. But now, Washington's subway system closes the earliest of any major city in the nation.
"People have asked me, what kind of a rinky-dink town is this that the subway shuts at midnight?" said Chris Zimmerman (R), an Arlington County Board member and representative to the Metro board. Maybe not so rinky-dink after all.
Highly Paid at the Top
D.C. Is Most Generous Municipality
For years, the D.C. government had a salary cap that kept all but a few top city officials from making more than $81,885 a year.
No longer. Two years after the limit was lifted, the capital city has one of the country's most generous municipal governments, paying 141 workers more than $100,000 a year.
Part of that is attributable to the fact that the D.C. government performs many functions typically associated with a state. But if you don't count those administrators, 96 officials are still over the 100-grand level, which is far more than in most cities of a similar size and cost of living. Boston, for example, has 12 city workers who pull in $100,000 or more.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) says the District has to offer higher pay to attract the leaders who can make the changes that voters are demanding.
"If the District government is ground to a halt and nothing is happening and I stand on a balcony and say, 'Yeah, but I am only paying one person over $100,000,' I don't think I will get any brownie points," the mayor said. "If I am going to be run out of town, I am going to be run out of town because we did not perform. That is the final test."
Fairfax County has 37 employees who make more than $100,000. Prince George's County has 23, and Montgomery County has 43.
Across the Region
Charter School; Teen Sentenced
* A junior high that is considered to be one of the District's best-run schools is defecting. Paul Junior High in Northwest Washington is set to become the city's first public school to convert to an independent charter school next September. The petition required the signatures of two-thirds of the parents and faculty members at the school seeking the change.
* The Montgomery County teenager who was found responsible for a deadly collision last year on East West Highway has been ordered to spend 30 days in a juvenile detention facility. "Killing your best friend--it's hard to go through life knowing that," said Michael Schoenfeld in court, taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes. "I don't know what I can say except I'm sorry for what I did."
* Maryland education officials are ready to get tough. Following through on a threat to take control of troubled schools, the state Board of Education voted to seek bids from private firms to run certain schools if they don't shape up. If the board hires a company, it would be the first time any state government had severed a school from local control. If any schools are taken over, the first ones are likely to be in Baltimore.
* Another piece of Loudoun County's ever-diminishing farmland will soon be sprouting houses. Toll Brothers Inc. could build as many as 1,400 houses on 865 acres of pastures and wheat fields north of Dulles International Airport. The land sale by a charitable foundation comes as many residents worry about the costs of new schools and other services needed for the county, where 1,000 newcomers arrive every month.
* As if year 2000 computer problems weren't enough to worry about: City officials say the District government isn't sure where much of the $120 million in its computer repair project is going. The situation is so severe that the city brought in an auditing firm to oversee the effort.
-- Erica Johnston
Slowly Making Their Way Out From Under Misery of Hurricane Floyd
Many in Md. Were Left Powerless; N.C. and Va. Towns Were Paralyzed by Floodwaters
In Maryland, Floyd's winds wreaked havoc. But it was the storm's floodwaters that paralyzed a huge swath of eastern North Carolina and some Virginia towns that hug the state border.
Tens of thousands of Baltimore Gas and Electric customers had to do without power for up to a week after the storm plowed through Maryland, doing the greatest damage around Baltimore and in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Howard counties.
"Basically, we're burning a lot of candles and getting to know each other a little too well," said YMCA conference center worker John Carris, several days into an involuntary, electricity-free existence in southern Anne Arundel.
In Franklin, Va., a painstakingly restored and revitalized downtown was devastated by floodwaters that submerged 182 businesses.
"The downtown vision, I truly believe, is dead," said Ed Turner, who owns a funeral home in the town of 8,500.
Across the state line in northeastern North Carolina, floodwaters began to recede, uncovering, inch by inch, thousands of submerged cars and bringing the tiniest measure of relief to besieged homeowners. Wood-burning incinerators were used to dispose of hundreds of thousands of drowned hogs, cows, horses and other animals. Almost 3,700 National Guard troops were activated.
"We will rebuild," said Russell Bradley, captain of the volunteer fire department in devastated Princeville, N.C., who lost his home and his car to the flood. "No one is going to just give this town up just like that."
Marijuana Initiative Backed
Vote Tally Shows Overwhelming Support
It's showdown time.
After a year of fighting over whether the District could legalize the medical use of marijuana, city voters' stance on the issue is clear. And Congress doesn't like it.
Federal lawmakers managed to block a vote count for 10 months. But the ballots were tallied after a judge issued a court order, and it turns out that more than two-thirds of voters thought the seriously ill should be able to use marijuana to alleviate symptoms if their doctors recommend it.
"Yes, this is a victory, but there's a lot of work to do," said Wayne Turner, an AIDS activist who led the initiative campaign.
He can say that again. Arguing that legalizing drugs to any extent sets a dangerous precedent, Republicans vowed to overturn the results of a D.C. election for the first time ever.
"It would be a travesty for Congress to stand by and allow a handful of activists to overturn federal narcotics laws with an argument that is, medically speaking, the worst kind of quackery," said Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.).
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) begged to differ. "I call upon Congress to respect the will of the electorate of the District of Columbia," he said.
The measure garnered 69 percent support in the District, the largest margin in any medical marijuana initiative. Voters in five states passed similar measures on the same day as D.C. voters cast their ballots, Nov. 3.
CAPTION: Game and Inland Fisheries employee Timmy Worrell patrols the flooded streets of Franklin, Va., in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.
CAPTION: Mary Jane DeFrank, of ACLU, and Wayne Turner, the ACT UP coordinator who initiated the campaign, talk to a reporter.