$9 Million Surplus to Benefit Parks

The state will use $9 million of its budget surplus to repair roads, trails and playgrounds in Maryland parks over the next three years.

The last major investment in the state park system was in 1969, and since then many parks' facilities have deteriorated and their playground equipment has become dangerous, Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) said yesterday.

"There simply has not been enough money to replace the bare necessities," Glendening said. "We will now do more than the absolute minimum."

Church Praises Redskins Traffic Flow

Faith and football found common ground Sunday with the new traffic patterns for Redskins fans.

The parking lots for Jericho City of Praise usually can accommodate the cars of about 2,000 football fans on Sundays. But the pastor, the Rev. Betty Peebles, had been worried that church members might not be able to come and go from services and fans might be diverted from the church's lots near Redskins Stadium--where they pay $15 a car to park--under new traffic patterns.

But "it seems that everything went well on Sunday," said Lt. Edward Burke, commander of the Prince George's County police special events unit. "The fans helped to make it work. It was a big team effort on everybody's part."

Peebles's comment: "All I can say is, to God be the glory."


Maryland Ranks High at Curbing Sprawl

Maryland gets high marks for protecting open land from encroaching suburban sprawl, according to the latest annual report by the Sierra Club on sprawl across the nation. Virginia failed to get a top score from the environmental organization.

In three of the four categories studied by the club in each of the 50 states--open space protection, land use planning, transportation planning and community revitalization--Maryland ranked among the top three states. Only in transportation planning did it fall below the top 10.

Virginia failed to make the top 10 in any category, though the Sierra Club did give the commonwealth some credit for allowing local jurisdictions to employ impact fees for new home construction.

Maryland ranked tops among the 50 states in open space protection, thanks in part to a program that has earmarked $140 million over the next several years for the purchase of open spaces threatened by development and efforts to preserve wetlands on the Eastern Shore.

Hearing Set on Reopening E Street NW

Federal and city agencies are scheduled to hold a public meeting tonight to discuss reopening the westbound lanes of E Street NW to traffic on the south side of the White House. The lanes were closed for security reasons after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

After months of public meetings and internal discussion with the National Park Service and the city Department of Public Works, the Federal Highway Administration is proposing restoration of westbound traffic on E Street between 15th and 18th streets NW, said Jack Van Dop, a spokesman for the agency.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of the United Unions Building at 1750 New York Ave. NW.


Judge Rejects New Fines in Dumping Case

A Virginia circuit court judge ruled yesterday that state environmental officials cannot fine Smithfield Foods Inc. for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act because the federal Environmental Protection Agency already has issued fines in a related case.

The EPA fined Smithfield $12.6 million in August 1997 for dumping excessive amounts of hog waste in a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. A federal appeals court has slightly reduced that penalty, but it essentially stands.

State environmental officials were pursuing 22,100 alleged violations in a related case, but Judge Glen Tyler, ruling in Isle of Wight County, said Smithfield should not face penalties from both state and federal environmental officials for the same offenses.

Muslim Women Win $250,000 for Arrest

A Portsmouth Circuit Court jury has ordered the city police department to pay $250,000 to two Muslim women who said they were falsely arrested after refusing an officer's order to remove their full-face veils before entering a grocery store.

The award in the civil lawsuit Friday is apparently the first such court case won by Muslim women, said Ibrahim Cooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

Assistant City Attorney Alfred Bates said the city intends to appeal the verdict.

The case stemmed from an incident in 1996 in which officer John Walker demanded the women remove their veils because a city statute bans "masks" in public places.


Ramsey to Meet With Department

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey will hold a department-wide meetings tomorrow to discuss the state of the police department.

The meetings are scheduled for 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Constitution Hall to accommodate the 3,500-member force. Unlike last year, when a rally-type session was held to boost morale, police sources said this one will be more somber. The chief said yesterday the sessions will be closed to the media.

Detective Frank Tracy, chairman of the police labor union, said he expects officers to be far less supportive of the chief this time. Ramsey recently angered officers by announcing a major schedule change that includes a 6 p.m.-to-2 a.m. "power shift" to boost crime-fighting efforts. Officers assigned to the 83 patrol service areas will be required to rotate shifts. Officers argued the shift change will alter their personal lives.


"Some male members still perceive the Club Room [lounge] and the golf course as male preserves and harass women in a manner to discourage them from using these facilities."

-- Philip J. Tierney, a hearing examiner for the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission, in a report on the Manor Country Club in which he recommended that steps be taken to ensure that women no longer are subjected to hostile and offensive remarks.