Metts to Leave Pr. George's Schools

Decision Ends Term Marked by Discord

Prince George's schools chief Iris T. Metts accepted a job with a national education company, having grown weary of the tumult that has surrounded her since she took over the county's schools almost four years ago.

Metts, 60, said that she believed she had the right ideas to boost student performance in the county's lagging public schools but that her efforts had been thwarted by the system's size and by politics. Metts came to Prince George's in 1999 after serving as Delaware's secretary of education.

Execution Delayed for Court Challenge

Order Puts Off Resumption Directed by Ehrlich

Maryland's highest court halted the impending execution of a Baltimore area killer and scheduled a May hearing on his challenge to the state's death penalty law, a decision that probably will prevent Maryland from executing anyone for at least three months.

The order was issued by the Maryland Court of Appeals in the case of Steven H. Oken, who had been scheduled to die during the week of March 17 for the 1987 rape-murder of a Baltimore County woman.

Oken's execution would have been the first since Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) became governor after pledging during the fall campaign to lift a moratorium on the death penalty that was declared last spring by his predecessor, Parris N. Glendening (D).

Democrats Divided on $1.8 Billion Gap

Governor's Slots Legislation Facing a Rewrite

Democratic leaders in the Maryland House of Delegates remain deeply divided over how to address the state's two-year, $1.8 billion shortfall and decided to delay action on the budget proposed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The new Republican governor's primary budget fix -- legalizing slot machines -- is under such strong attack that he agreed to rewrite the bill just two weeks after its introduction.

Lower-Than-Expected Bid on Bridge

Portion Comes In $45 Million Below Estimate

Maryland highway officials were relieved when the lowest bid to build one of the costliest parts of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge came in $45 million under estimates, a sign that the massive project has not soared over budget.

State engineers believed that the proposals to build the bridge's western section -- from the draw spans to the Virginia-side abutment in Alexandria's Jones Point Park -- would be an indication of whether the $2.56 billion project was headed for huge cost overruns.

Glendening Joins Smart Growth Group

New Nonprofit Institute to Train Officials

Former Maryland governor Parris N. Glendening will become president of the new Smart Growth Leadership Institute, which will operate with a $1 million annual budget. The two-person institute, dedicated to promoting smart-growth policies nationally, will train and advise state and local officials about land preservation and halting suburban sprawl.

Across the Region

Anne Arundel: Five years after it began debate, the County Council moved closer last week to a vote on a zoning plan that will shape development in an area known as Annapolis Neck.

Howard: Vouchers for child care would be significantly reduced and the statewide network of Child Care Resource Centers devastated by proposed state budget cuts, advocates said. Already, officials in Howard and elsewhere have been turning away new requests for vouchers and putting families on waiting lists.

Southern Maryland: Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) ended the messy process of appointing a new state delegate from Charles County, naming lawyer W. Louis Hennessy to succeed Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins, who joined Ehrlich's Cabinet.

Montgomery: A wave of retirements has hit the Montgomery County Police Department in the past year, coming even as requests for police protection are increasing everywhere, including the revitalized downtown Silver Spring area. More than 100 officers have retired in the past year, the majority of them veteran detectives and commanders. An additional 65 will be eligible to retire this year.

The National Park Service holds an Abraham Lincoln birthday observance with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.