Internet Porn Ruling Appealed Again
Six public college professors have asked a federal appeals court to throw out a Virginia law barring state employees from accessing sexually explicit materials on computers at work. They say the law impedes their ability to conduct legitimate academic research.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema declared the law unconstitutional in February 1998, but a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision a year later. The professors appealed to the full, 12-judge appellate court in Richmond on Monday.
Majorie Heins, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the professors, argued that Internet research is essential for her clients and that the law is unconstitutional because it "singles out a particular category of expression the legislature decided it didn't like."
William H. Hurd, senior counsel to Attorney General Mark L. Earley (R), argued that the state has a right to regulate how its equipment is used. He also noted that the law makes an exception for agency-approved research. All a professor has to do, he said, is get permission from the professor's dean.
Accusations Made Over Voter ID Note
State Sen. Jane H. Woods (R-Fairfax) was accused by county Democrats yesterday of trying to confuse voters by sending them campaign literature incorrectly stating that they would have to show identification at the polls.
A judge issued an injunction Oct. 19 blocking a pilot project in which voters in 10 localities, including Fairfax and Arlington counties, would be asked to show an ID when they vote. The Virginia Supreme Court upheld that decision Friday, killing the project for this year.
Woods's campaign mailer features a basic appeal for reelection, with a note in smaller print at the bottom: "State Law Requires Fairfax County Voters to Bring an ID to Vote."
Justin Brasell, Woods's campaign manager, said the flier was approved Oct. 14, "well before any of these court decisions came down," and was mailed last week. To have it changed at the last minute or pulled altogether would have been prohibitively expensive, he said.
Woods's opponent in the Tuesday election is former Democratic U.S. House member Leslie Byrne.
State Grant to Fund Trauma Teams
The state has awarded $59,200 to establish trauma response teams in Baltimore to help children who witness violent crime in the streets or in their homes.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) announced the state grant during a dedication ceremony for the new home of the Baltimore Child Development/Community Policing Program, which will create the teams.
The trauma teams will be composed of police, residents, mental health experts and staff from Johns Hopkins Hospital. The center will sponsor meetings for residents affected by traumatic incidents and will be a recruitment center for community members to take part in the program.
The center is a joint effort between the Baltimore police, Johns Hopkins University and the residents of east Baltimore.
Mall Developer Gets Welands Permit
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a plan to fill wetlands for the construction of a 1.4 million-square-foot mall in Anne Arundel County, clearing the way for the $250 million complex.
The Arundel Mills mall, under construction near Route 100 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, will cover 1.4 acres of wetlands and more than 3,000 feet of stream channels in the Piny Run watershed in Hanover.
The Corps of Engineers issued a permit Friday to developer Mills Corp. to build the mall within two miles of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Fire Chief Defends His Residency
Fire Chief Donald Edwards has done everything he is supposed to do to meet the city's residence requirements, a spokesman for the fire department said yesterday.
That was in response to a television report (on WRC-TV, Channel 4) last week that Edwards owns a home in Adelphi as well as renting an apartment in the District. A 1989 law requires D.C. Cabinet members and agency heads to live in the city.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a statement, "I expect all of my agency directors to be full and active members of the District community. To me, being part of the community is more than a legal distinction regarding residency. It means being involved in the social, civic and cultural life of the city. It means supporting local businesses. It means spending time getting involved in making a difference."
Williams is expected to discuss Edwards's residence with him later this week, although no date has been scheduled for the meeting.
Asbestos Discovery Closes Phelps Center
Phelps Adult Education Center has been closed indefinitely because workers apparently disturbed areas of the school that contained asbestos, school system spokeswoman Denise Tann said yesterday.
The workers were doing minor repairs on the heating distribution system when they apparently uncovered pockets of asbestos, a material once used in building insulation that can be a health hazard.
Tests indicated that other areas of the school also may have been disturbed, causing the level of asbestos to be higher than legally permitted.
Students are to report to the empty Taft school building, at 1800 Perry St. NE, Tann said. The school will reopen after testing and repairs are complete.
A job fair for District residents scheduled for today at Phelps has been moved to the Spingarn High School gymnasium. Spingarn is at 2500 Benning Rd. NE.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I've met thousands of magical people, and I don't think a single one of them would be interested in hurting a cat, no matter what color its fur was."
--Silver RavenWolf, a longtime Wiccan (witch) priestess, defending her colleagues in light of reports of abuse of black cats at Halloween. Many animal shelters and Humane Society chapters ban cat adoptions at this time of year.