MARYLAND

Ruling Upholds Baseball Promotion

A minor league baseball team may give discounts to fans who bring church bulletins to games as long as all fans are entitled to the same lower prices, a judge ruled yesterday.

The Hagerstown Suns gave the discounts to all fans whether or not they brought the bulletins, Administrative Law Judge Georgia Brady wrote in her opinion striking down a religious discrimination complaint. The fact that a promotion favors a particular group of people does not violate state law, she ruled.

Without evidence that the Suns denied the discount based on religious belief, the Maryland Commission on Human Relations cannot strike down the promotion, the judge wrote. The team can also continue the promotion, she said.

"I conclude that Maryland's public accommodation law, unlike that of many other jurisdictions, prohibits only the discriminatory application of a promotion," the opinion said. "In the absence of a discriminatory effect, the promotion is not per se illegal."

Attorneys for Carl Silverman, the fan who sued the team, said they will appeal. The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was involved in the case.

"The ACLU and the commission should spend their energies going after real cases of discrimination and not false ones," said the Suns' attorney, Joseph A. Schwartz III.

Annapolis Loitering Bill Called Racist

The Annapolis City Council has passed a bill that allows police to disperse and arrest loiterers suspected of dealing drugs in public housing communities. Critics of the bill said they would move to challenge it.

The council voted 5 to 4 Monday night to approve the measure after nearly an hour of debate. More than 30 opponents, wearing "Vote No" stickers, showed up to protest.

The bill has prompted fears that city police would be given license to harass black residents. Local black community leaders, the American Civil Liberties Union and the local branch of the NAACP have denounced the bill as racist.

Under the bill, police are permitted to disperse loiterers engaging in suspicious behavior such as repeatedly conversing with passers-by or drivers, or making hand signals to them that are associated with drug activity.

Court to Review Student Resident Status

The University of Maryland System's definition of a state resident will be reviewed by Maryland's highest court, a decision that could force the Board of Regents to redraw its tuition policies.

The state currently charges out-of-state students significantly more than in-state students.

For parents, it is the difference between writing an $11,827 check for one year of out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees at the College Park campus or $4,939 for a resident student.

Jeremy R. Frankel, who graduated from College Park in 1998, said the system assumes anyone with out-of-state parents is not a resident and does not allow that presumption to be challenged.

In New Windsor, New Party for Mayor

Jack Gullo, mayor of New Windsor in Carroll County and president of the Maryland Municipal League, left the Republican Party yesterday and registered as a Democrat.

Gullo said he became a Democrat because the Republican Party did not offer a home for his brand of progressive conservatism. He is now the county's only Democrat in elected office.

Pedestrian Killed in Anne Arundel

A Severna Park man was hit by two cars and killed while trying to cross a highway in Anne Arundel County last night, police said.

The man, whose identity was not released, was crossing Ritchie Highway at Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard when he was hit by a 1987 Hyundai traveling northbound on Ritchie Highway, said Officer Charles Ravenell, an Anne Arundel police spokesman.

The car pulled over to the side of the road, but the man was hit by a Ford Ranger pickup moments later, Ravenell said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The drivers and another witness told police that the cars had the right-of-way because the light on Ritchie Highway was green, Ravenell said. Police are continuing to investigate.

VIRGINIA

Man in Vehicle Crushed by Cement Mixer

A man who apparently drove his sport utility vehicle into a free-standing cement mixer was crushed to death early yesterday in the Chantilly area when the cement mixer collapsed onto the roof of his vehicle.

A construction worker at the site of the new West County High School at 4700 Stonecroft Blvd. discovered the crushed 1987 Nissan Pathfinder beneath the cement mixer about 5:15 a.m. Inside the Pathfinder was William Otis Robinson III, 28, of the 43000 block of Old Docks Road in Sterling.

Investigators believe Robinson was driving north on Stonecroft Boulevard and drove through the intersection of Old Lee Road, then through a closed chain-link fence gate and into the cement mixer. Police said speed was a factor in the accident.

THE DISTRICT

Arts Group Begins Children's Book Drive

One in Ten, a D.C. gay and lesbian group dedicated to promoting the arts, is launching a children's book drive this week in conjunction with the opening of Reel Affirmations IX, the city's International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

One in Ten is asking patrons and supporters of the film festival to donate books about the arts to one of a number of organizations that serve children: schools, libraries, hospitals and community centers. The recipients were suggested by D.C. Council members.

The goal of the drive is to gather at least 500 books, providing the nucleus of an art library for each organization. The film festival opens tomorrow night at the Lincoln Theatre at 14th and U streets NW and runs through Oct. 24.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Men dress up to be in and to watch these [womenless] weddings [staged as fund-raising events]. They're the bridesmaids and everything, and often they are prominent men, like the mayor and sheriff.... I don't know that it would be of any interest or funny here. But in Georgia, it's hilarious.

--Sylvia Benatti, who works for a D.C.-based organization that helps nonprofit groups. Until recently, she did fund-raising in Georgia.

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