THE DISTRICT

D.C. Drops Homeowner's Fine

The D.C. Department of Public Works has dropped a $35 ticket issued to a city homeowner who said bricks stacked in public space outside his home were left by D.C. Water and Sewer Authority contractors.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Richard Longstaff, who lives in the 100 block of 13th Street SE, incurred the fine last month. He argued that the bricks were left by workers who had replaced lead service pipes along his block.

Public works inspector Lawrence Dance confirmed yesterday that the agency dropped Longstaff's fine. Dance declined to say if WASA or the contractor, C and F Construction, would pay the fine. "That's still being researched," he said.

Congress Withholds Voucher Funding

Congress has placed a temporary hold on $10.6 million pledged to the D.C. public school system to complement a new federally funded school voucher program, saying a proposed spending plan is unacceptable.

In January, Congress and President Bush approved $13 million for the public schools and $13 million for D.C. public charter schools as a condition of city officials' support of a separate voucher program to send children to private schools. Last month, Congress vowed to withhold the funds because school officials failed over three months to develop a spending plan that would satisfy legislative requirements.

The money will be released to the next superintendent as a "reserve fund" with no strings attached, according to a letter signed Tuesday by four key members of Congress and released yesterday.

VIRGINIA

Stiffer Penalties for Traffic Violations

Beginning July 1, several laws aimed at improving traffic safety and mobility will become stricter. People who drive with a revoked or suspended license will be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor and will lose their license for a year if they cause a fatal accident. Those convicted of aggressive driving might lose their license for as long as six months. And a new law on drivers who cause serious injury while racing carries a felony charge, loss of vehicle and loss of license for one to three years.

In addition, stiffer penalties that double fines for carpool lane violations include a $1,000 fine for fourth-time offenders, who would also see three demerit points charged against their licenses. Tickets for first-time offenses remain at $50.

Fare Increases for Express Bus

Starting Sunday, the basic fare on the Fairfax Connecter Bus will go from 75 cents to $1. The fare for senior citizens and people with disabilities remains 50 cents.

The express bus fare on Routes 383, 384, 385 and 989 increases from $2.50 to $3.

Bus-to-bus transfers will still be accepted, but passengers must pay the difference in fares. Rail-to-bus transfers will lower the fare to 35 cents on local buses and $2.10 on express routes.

District Court Judge Confirmed

The Senate voted 94 to 0 yesterday to confirm Walter D. Kelley Jr. of Norfolk to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, filling a vacancy left by Henry C. Morgan Jr., who took senior status with the court.

Kelley, past rector of Old Dominion University, served as a commissioner in chancery for the Norfolk Circuit Court and was an adjunct professor of antitrust law at the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach.

Kelley, a partner at Troutman Sanders LLP, received his bachelor's and law degrees from Washington and Lee University and clerked for Ellsworth Van Graafeiland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Cooke Panel Headquarters in Loudoun

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation officials plan to break ground next week on a 23,000-square-foot headquarters on 17.5 acres in Loudoun County.

The philanthropic organization, founded from the estate of the former Redskins owner, has been leasing in the county for four years. The facility, which will cost about $12 million, will include office and conference space, as well as space for Cooke memorabilia.

With an endowment of $525 million, the group provides financial support to low-income students at all educational levels, particularly categories of students often ignored by other scholarship programs. By 2006, officials predict, the foundation will support 550 students.

MARYLAND

'No Specific Threat' in U-Md. Alert

University of Maryland officials yesterday provided no new explanations for Tuesday's mysterious security alert on the College Park campus, other than saying there had been "no specific threat" -- just a response to "information" from the Department of Homeland Security.

Yesterday, a conference was held at a site adjacent to campus; the event was expected to attract high-ranking Pentagon and national-security officials. University officials said they did not know if the security alert was related to the conference.

The three-day National Language Conference, which continues today, is co-hosted by a division of Department of Defense and the Center for Advanced Study of Language, which itself is a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the National Security Agency. Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, was scheduled to speak Tuesday but canceled, a National Security Agency spokeswoman said.

University officials said they did not know whether the security alert was related to the conference. A spokeswoman for campus police would not say what information was received from Homeland Security.

Public Works Board Cuts 361 State Jobs

The state Board of Public Works yesterday cut 361 positions from Maryland government, including 43 jobs that are filled. Those employees will be notified this week that they will be out of work July 1.

State agency heads proposed the cuts to conform with the 2005 budget, which will take effect next week.

"The sentence I will hand down to you today is intended to deter the next nice guy who thinks he has a legitimate complaint."

-- U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, to Dwight W. Watson, who drove his tractor into a pond on the Mall last year, threatened to blow himself up to protest the treatment of tobacco farmers and paralyzed traffic for two days. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers David Nakamura, Spencer S. Hsu, Amy Argetsinger, Jamie Stockwell, Steven Ginsberg and Rosalind S. Helderman and the Associated Press.