Employee Bonus Checks Printed
Bonus checks for 5,871 unionized District government employees were printed yesterday and will be distributed by city agencies by tomorrow, officials said.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) had promised the unions that the $1,700 checks would be ready by Dec. 15. The bonuses were required under the current contract, which says that if the District government carries a budget surplus, the city must negotiate extra pay for workers covered by the contract. The cost to the city is $9.9 million.
"We are very pleased we were able to keep that promise to them," said Chief Financial Officer Valerie Holt.
The money for the bonuses was in doubt until Tuesday, when the D.C. Council and financial control board approved Williams's plan to pay for the bonuses. That plan calls for borrowing money from the city's share of tobacco settlement funds and getting the rest from city agencies and the control board.
NW Campus Renovation Approved
The city's zoning appeals board yesterday unanimously approved George Washington University's request to renovate its 23-acre Mount Vernon campus in Northwest Washington. Nearby residents of the Foxhall and Palisades sections had threatened to sue the District if the school did not agree to protect them from traffic, noise and tree loss.
City Planning Director Andrew Altman hired a mediator who forged a compromise between the two sides.
School Board Wants Changes at Kennedy
The Montgomery County Board of Education has asked School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast to consolidate a leadership program at Kennedy High School that parents complained had been watered down when officials expanded it, offering a less vigorous version that students call "Stupid LTI."
Kennedy's Leadership Training Institute combines advanced classes with the study of leadership styles and governments through seminars, field trips, lectures and community service. Through the 1997-98 school year, LTI accepted 50 students from each grade, based on their grades, test scores, essays and interviews. In fall 1998, under pressure to expand, LTI accepted all 110 applicants, though half were sent into a less-challenging tier.
The board voted that all the LTI students should be merged into the original program as early as next semester.
Md. Buys Undeveloped Arundel Land
Maryland set aside $490,000 yesterday to preserve one of the few large tracts of undeveloped land in the dense suburb of Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County.
The state Board of Public Works approved the 26-acre purchase as part of Program Open Space. Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) said the land would encourage families to stay within an area that is already well developed, rather than flee for outer suburbs.
Howard Gets Money to Improve Buses
Howard County's bus service is getting a $338,000 boost from the federal government to buy new buses and repair old ones. The grant is part of almost $9.7 million in Federal Transit Administration money for improved bus service throughout Maryland.
Most of the money, $6.8 million, will go to the Maryland Transit Administration for the purchase of up to 30 buses and bus components. Howard County's share will allow Howard Area Transit Services to buy a replacement bus, to add a bus to build up the system's fleet, and to rebuild four old buses. It also will pay to replace several bus stop signs. The county is gradually upgrading and expanding its fleet of buses, some of which have been driven as many as 400,000 miles.
Sen. Woods Concedes Defeat
Republican Sen. Jane H. Woods conceded defeat in her reelection bid yesterday after a recount confirmed that she lost to Democrat and former congresswoman Leslie L. Byrne.
Woods, who has represented the Fairfax County and Fairfax City district since 1992, said the recount confirmed the Nov. 2 election results that had her losing to Byrne by 37 votes.
"I offer to Sen.-elect Byrne best wishes for a productive and rewarding term representing the folks of the 34th District," Woods said in a statement. With the confirmation of Woods's defeat, Republicans maintained their 21-19 edge in the Senate.
Coalition Seeks More Tax Money Locally
Virginia should overhaul its tax system to funnel a share of its rapidly growing state income tax revenue to local governments, a coalition of fiscally stressed cities said yesterday.
Richmond Deputy City Manager Connie Bawcum, representing Virginia First Cities, said localities need more funding options to meet growing service requirements.
"We're really not here to whine," Bawcum told a citizens advisory commission studying the state and local government tax structure. "We're here to ask you to level the playing field."
Although state coffers are brimming with cash generated by the income tax, local governments have had to rely mostly on stagnant real estate taxes. That has been especially troublesome for cities, which have little land for growth.
EPA Names Regional Administrator
The Philadelphia regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes the District, Maryland and Virginia, has a new administrator. Bradley M. Campbell, 38, named yesterday by EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner, has been associate director for toxics and environmental protection at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before that, he was an attorney in the Justice Department's environmental division.
Campbell, who earlier worked as a lawyer for environmental organizations, is on the board of the Echo Hill Outdoor School in Worton, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He replaces W. Michael McCabe, who has been promoted to deputy regional administrator of EPA, the No. 2 job at the agency's headquarters.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"No individual in our care in any institution, any program, anywhere in the state will be subject to physical harm or violence."
-- Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, accepting the resignation of top officials after a state investigation concluded that teenage offenders in the state's boot camps were beaten and abused.