Catania Leaves GOP Organization

Council Member, Party at Odds Over Bush

D.C. Council member David A. Catania has been a Republican all his life, an openly gay political activist and a top fundraiser for the Bush campaign. Then President Bush called for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Catania became openly critical, so his delegate seat to the Republican National Convention was withdrawn.

Now he has withdrawn -- from the local party apparatus and the fundraising. The at-large council member said: "I would never change my principles, but I don't have to hang out in this crowd. There's such a thing called an independent."

School Power Struggle Continues

Williams Vetoes Bill Keeping Board in Charge

The long-simmering dispute over who will control the schools became a bit more heated when Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) vetoed legislation that would have kept the Board of Education in charge. Williams, in a letter explaining his veto, slammed the school board's management and wrote that its stewardship has "a history of fiscal mismanagement, micromanagement of the superintendent's operational authority and a lack of urgency regarding educational reform."

Some D.C. Council members hope to gather enough support to override the veto.

Banneker Teachers Stage Sickout

Job Action Was in Protest of Staff Cuts

Coming staff cuts in D.C. schools prompted a sickout among teachers at Banneker Senior High School, which boasts the highest test scores of any D.C. public high school. Only four teachers reported for work Thursday. Several who did not report said they were protesting the elimination of jobs at Banneker as part of a widespread reduction in personnel because of budget cuts.

Man Guilty of Killing Metro Officer

Defendant Could Be Sentenced to Life in Prison

The courtroom was packed with police officers when jurors announced their verdict in the trial of a man accused of killing a rookie transit police officer three years ago in a confrontation over a Metro fare. The jury found Walter O. Johnson, 36, guilty on all seven charges in the killing of Marlon F. Morales, 32, the father of three children. Johnson, who had been paroled from federal prison four weeks before the shooting, could face life in prison.

Girl Caught in Rival Groups' Crossfire

12-Year-Old Shot on Porch in Petworth

A 12-year-old girl who was sitting on her front porch in Petworth was shot and wounded, caught in a feud between rival drug groups, police said. An $11,000 reward has been offered for information in the city's latest shooting of a bystander. The girl was treated for a gunshot wound to the abdomen at Children's Hospital and was in stable condition.

Changes in the Attorneys' Ranks

Interim Prosecutor Named, Counsel Renamed

There are two newly named top lawyers in the District. One is the interim U.S. attorney, Kenneth L. Wainstein, who has been chief of staff to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. Wainstein is a former federal prosecutor and is in the running for the permanent post.

Also, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) gave a new name to the city's top legal officer, who will now be known as the attorney general for the District of Columbia, erasing the corporation counsel designation that has stood for 102 years. It's the same man, though: Robert J. Spagnoletti.

Across the Region

Baseball in S.Md.; Snakehead in Potomac

* Charles County officials signed an agreement with private investors to pay one-third of the $15.7 million cost of a minor league baseball stadium in Hughesville.

* A commercial fisherman caught a northern snakehead in Pohick Bay on Thursday, the fourth such fish found in an eight-mile stretch of the Potomac River in the last month.

War protest: Chuck Hutchcraft straightens a collection of combat boots bearing the names of dead soldiers, exhibited by the American Friends Service Committee to protest the Iraq war.