New Test of Brentwood Postal Plant Set The latest in a series of tests of the equipment and procedures that will fumigate the quarantined Brentwood Road NE postal plant will take place Thursday morning, U.S. Postal Service officials said yesterday.

The three-hour exercise, set to begin about 9 a.m., will check the equipment that delivers an anthrax-killing gas into the building, postal officials said. About 500 pounds of chlorine dioxide gas will be used. The test also will monitor humidity-control procedures necessary for the substance to work effectively.

Downtown Business Group Marks Year 5 Members of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District celebrated its fifth anniversary yesterday with a cake at the Hotel Monaco, which opened this summer in the long-abandoned General Post Office Building in the heart of the city's East End.

The organization, funded by a tax on property owners within its boundaries, promotes the 128-square-block area of downtown roughly between 15th Street NW and Union Station.

Rent Control Legislation to Be Discussed The Tenants' Task Force for Rent Control has scheduled two public meetings tomorrow to discuss legislation that would amend the District's rent control laws.

The first meeting will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the first-floor council chambers at One Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth St. NW. The second meeting is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Room A-5 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Ninth and G streets NW.

The task force is to discuss three bills that backers say would strengthen rent control and apartment conversion laws. A public hearing on the legislation is scheduled for Dec. 11 before the D.C. Council Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.


Johnson Announces Transition Team Prince George's County Executive-elect Jack B. Johnson (D) yesterday formally announced the members of the transition team that will help him set policy and recruit employees for his administration.

A mix of Johnson's supporters -- as well as business, education and political leaders -- makes up the 21-member team, including Major F. Riddick Jr., Gov. Parris N. Glendening's former chief of staff whom Johnson defeated in the Democratic primary.

Michael Arrington, a lobbyist and former state delegate, is on the committee, along with Doyle L. Niemann, a former school board member and a newly elected Prince George's delegate; and Del. Obie Patterson (D-Prince George's). The group also includes Jacqueline Brown, director of academic reform for Howard County public schools; Gustavo Torres, chairman of Casa de Maryland; and Peter Nostrand, president of SunTrust Bank in the Washington area.

Johnson also chose several longtime supporters, including Shailender Gupta, his campaign treasurer, and Wendell Webster, a District lawyer with whom the county executive-elect attended Howard University's law school.

Documents on Collapsed Garage Scoured State and county inspectors and construction company officials have begun sifting through inspections and reports, as well as debris, to try to determine the cause of Friday's parking garage collapse that killed three workers near Rockville.

Robert C. Hubbard, director of Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services, said the county was assembling numerous inspection reports on the garage and the adjacent four-building complex to see whether they might contain clues. He said that it remained too early to draw conclusions and that the agency's review would take about a week.

The incident happened at 4 p.m. Friday at the Fishers Place project, at Twinbrook Parkway and Fishers Lane near the Twinbrook Metro station. Three North Carolina-based workers were killed and a fourth was injured. He remained in critical condition at Suburban Hospital last night.

Death Row Inmate Succumbed to Cancer The death row inmate who died Sunday afternoon had been suffering from cancer, a prison official said yesterday. Francis Zito, 43, died at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, where he had been treated for several weeks.

In May, Zito was convicted of the February 2001 murders of Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Deputy Jason C. Schwenz and Centreville police Officer Michael S. Nickerson.


Arlington Wins EPA's Development Award The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday honored Arlington County's efforts to encourage urban development around Metro stations in the Ballston corridor.

The EPA gave Arlington's policies the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, praising the county's planning approach, which encourages commercial and residential building around the Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square and Ballston Metro stops, all of which are underground. Arlington topped more than 100 other localities for its prize for overall excellence in the first year of the award.

EPA officials said they were particularly impressed with the increase in Orange Line Metro ridership, which has doubled from 1991 to 2002. Nearly 50 percent of people who live near the stations use transit to commute, they said.


COG Director Moving to MedStar Health Michael C. Rogers, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments since 1998, will become executive vice president of Columbia-based MedStar Health, both groups announced yesterday. MedStar Health is a not-for-profit firm that owns seven area hospitals, including Georgetown University Hospital and Washington Hospital Center.

Rogers succeeds John L. Green Jr., who died May 26, as head of strategic planning and government affairs. At COG, Rogers led regional homeland security planning efforts since Sept. 11, 2001, for the association of elected officials from 17 area jurisdictions.

Rogers formerly served as the District's city administrator, chief procurement officer for New York City and director of the Minority Business Development Agency for the U.S. Commerce Department. He'll start the new job in January.

"It is a good vision, but these are difficult times."

-- Andrew J. Scott of the Maryland Transit Administration, commenting on the financial problems facing local governments that jeopardize Metro's plan to spend $12.2 billion over the next 10 years. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Manny Fernandez, Spencer S. Hsu, Chris L. Jenkins, Darragh Johnson, Sylvia Moreno, Michael E. Ruane, Paul Schwartzman and Debbi Wilgoren.