THE DISTRICT

Election Delays D.C. Council Session

The D.C. Council, which normally meets the first Tuesday of every month, will instead have its regular legislative meeting tomorrow. The date was changed because of yesterday's citywide vote, in which seven of the 13 members of the council were up for reelection.

High on the council's lengthy agenda is an effort to back away from last month's decision to tax the proceeds of municipal bonds. The council approved the tax as part of a $323 million package to close a budget gap, but an outcry from bondholders has convinced several council members to reconsider their votes.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) also has proposed repealing the tax plan. He and others have suggested savings to cover the $6.6 million that officials projected the tax would have generated for city coffers.

Panel to Help Fill Counsel Post

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has formed a 22-member screening committee to recommend candidates for the job of corporation counsel, which was vacated in early September by Robert R. Rigsby.

The screening committee will be chaired by Weldon Latham, a senior partner at the law firm Holland & Knight. Other members include representatives from area law firms, the U.S. attorney's office, area businesses and law schools, as well as federal and local judges.

Rigsby left the job after he was named an associate judge in D.C. Superior Court. The corporation counsel is the District's chief legal officer. The mayor hopes to fill the position early next year.

Cable Program to Focus on School Budget

The D.C. public school system will have a live call-in program on its cable TV station from 7 to 8 p.m today to discuss its fiscal 2004 budget plans.

The school system said residents can raise questions or concerns during the program by calling 1-888-329-3277. School officials also invited residents to e-mail questions to dcpsbudget04@k12.dc.us.

The program will air on D.C. cable Channel 28. Those fielding questions will include School Superintendent Paul L. Vance; school board Vice President William Lockridge; school board member Mirian Saez; Steven G. Seleznow, the school system's chief of staff; and Robert Morales, the system's chief financial officer.

MARYLAND

Secretive NSA Acknowledges Anniversary

The National Security Agency is celebrating 50 years of stealing secrets this week -- even though it operated almost unacknowledged for most of that history.

The agency at Fort Meade, which gathers intelligence by eavesdropping on foreign communications and by breaking codes, is the largest and arguably the most secretive of the U.S. intelligence agencies.

To mark the anniversary of its founding, the NSA is opening an exhibit this week in the National Cryptologic Museum, which includes a number of images and items from the agency's history. The museum, next to agency headquarters in Anne Arundel County, is open to the public.

President Harry S. Truman created the agency in 1952 with a top-secret memorandum, and its low profile for decades betrayed little about its thousands of employees or their mission. Its secrecy led many to joke over the years that its initials actually stood for "No Such Agency."

Frederick Rapist Found Dead in Cell

A convicted rapist was found dead in his Frederick County jail cell yesterday, just days after being sentenced to three consecutive life terms for brutally attacking a Jefferson woman.

The state medical examiner's office said it had not determined how 35-year-old Brett Michael Heath of Feagaville died. Sheriff Jim Hagy said there were no signs of foul play.

Heath was sentenced Thursday to three consecutive life terms plus 63 years for raping a woman in her home Oct. 31, 2001.

At about 5:30 in the morning yesterday, correctional officers at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center found Heath in cardiac arrest. The officers started CPR and the effort was continued by an ambulance crew en route to Frederick Memorial Hospital, authorities said. Heath was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.

VIRGINIA

Richmond Diocese Reinstates Priest

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has reinstated a Roanoke priest who was suspended in August after an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a high school seminary student in 1976.

According to the diocese, its review board found that the Rev. Steven Rule placed himself and the student in an "inappropriate" situation. But the board did not believe the behavior warranted removing Rule from the ministry.

Bishop Walter Sullivan is placing Rule in a "transitional assignment" as priest at Epiphany Parish in Richmond.

The bishop said in a news release that he and the chairman of the review board discussed the decision with the person who made the allegation.

Rule was pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Roanoke and was about to become pastor at a Chesterfield County church when he was suspended.

Dismal Swamp Refuge Now Even Greater

The largest wildlife sanctuary in Virginia has gotten even bigger with the recent purchases of about 4,000 acres in Chesapeake and Suffolk counties and Gates County in North Carolina.

By adding forests, marshes and wetlands on the fringes of the existing preserve, the size of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has increased to just over 111,000 acres -- an area larger than the city of Norfolk.

Refuge manager Lloyd Culp described the buying spree over the past two years as the busiest since the Great Dismal Swamp was set aside for federal protection in 1974.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent $3.9 million for the properties, bought with money generated from the sale of federal duck-hunting stamps. Culp said the new land will provide buffers against encroaching development.

The refuge was created three decades ago with a 49,100-acre donation by Union Camp, a paper and timber company.

"When I heard he had been living in shelters, it gave me goose bumps. It looked like he was so into God, and to hear that it is possible that he is the person who has been taking innocent lives was shocking."

-- Janet M. Scott, speaking about John Allen Muhammad, her former high school classmate in Scotlandville, La. -- Page A12

Compiled from reports by staff writers Craig Timberg, Justin Blum and David Nakamura and the Associated Press.