VIRGINIA

Pr. William Caps Property Tax Increases

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors pledged yesterday to keep any future property tax increases below 6 percent.

The county has raised taxes repeatedly to pay for new schools, roads and other services in the fast-growing county. While supervisors have reduced the tax rate in recent years, rising property values have meant big percentage increases in homeowners' tax bills.

The board also agreed to continue providing schools with 56.75 percent of general revenue and to allocate any additional revenue from the states' recordation tax increase to transportation needs.

Court Upholds Ruling to Unseal Papers

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld a decision ordering the Virginia State Police to unseal some documents from its investigation into the killing for which former death row inmate Earl Washington Jr. was wrongly convicted.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had ordered the documents unsealed this month at the request of Washington's attorneys and several media organizations, including The Washington Post. The full court yesterday declined a request by Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore to reconsider the ruling.

Washington was convicted in the 1982 killing of a Culpeper, Va., woman. He was imprisoned for 17 years being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2000. The documents are part of a civil case Washington has filed against the Virginia State Police and others.

THE REGION

Girl's French-Fry Arrest Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia yesterday upheld the arrest of a 12-year-old girl by Metro police for eating a single french fry in a train station in fall 2000.

The court affirmed a lower court ruling that Metro's "zero-tolerance" policy and the child's subsequent arrest were constitutional, although Judge John G. Roberts made it clear that he was no fan of the policies.

Hedgepeth was arrested on the first day of a week-long campaign by Metro officers to clean up the system's subway cars and stations. Passengers are not allowed to eat or drink in stations or on trains, and Hedgepeth was among those nabbed in the roundup. Adults caught eating during the campaign were given a citation, but District law then required that children committing delinquent acts be taken into custody, so Metro officers handcuffed Hedgepeth.

The girl was processed at the city's Juvenile Processing Center before being handed over to her mother three hours later.

Catholic Schools to Honor Hickey

Schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington will be closed Friday, which has been designated a day of mourning for Cardinal James A. Hickey by his successor, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick. The archdiocese includes the District and five Maryland counties.

Hickey, 84, died Sunday after several years of declining health.

There will be a public viewing of Hickey's body tomorrow at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest Washington from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. His funeral is Saturday.

Menhaden in Bay Near Record Lows

The menhaden population in the Chesapeake Bay is near record lows, according to a report by a coalition of conservation groups. Menhaden are important because they are at the bottom of the food chain.

The report urged more regulation of menhaden fishing in the bay, including limits on harvests and a delayed annual start.

THE DISTRICT

New Fund to Augment 3 R's in Schools

D.C. public schools entered a partnership yesterday with the College Board and a newly created investment fund to spend a combined $2.2 million in the next two years on a program to get about 13,000 students ready for advanced high school classes and college.

The new program, the Public Education Partnership Fund, announced that it is investing $550,000 in the initiative, and the College Board is adding $200,000. D.C. public schools is reallocating $1.5 million from professional development funds for the program.

The money will pay for 18 schools to offer a supplemental curriculum and teacher development program to toughen existing math and reading/writing classes for students in grades 6 to 12. If successful, the program will be expanded throughout the city's public schools, according to Superintendent Clifford B. Janey.

Slots Backers Owe on Failed Bid

Backers of a plan to legalize slot machines in the nation's capital spent almost $1.4 million on their failed campaign to win a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot, and still owe nearly $600,000, much of it to lawyers who fought unsuccessfully to put the gambling initiative before District voters.

According to documents filed late Monday with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, the political action committee formed to promote the gambling measure has received $1.372 million in contributions since it was formed in April. All of the money came from a group of St. Croix financiers led by gambling promoter Shawn Scott, who has been denied or failed to obtain gambling licenses in five states.

The committee has spent almost all of those contributions, the report shows, paying out $1.37 million to lawyers, political consultants and residents who circulated petitions for the gambling measure in July. As of Monday, the committee had just $2,833.18 on hand.

Had it been approved by voters, the initiative would have authorized 3,500 slot machines on a 14-acre site in Northeast Washington.

"Women are being harassed, there's urinating in public behind the 7-Eleven, there's trash all over the place. This was a community maintenance issue. It had nothing to do with immigration."

-- Prince William County police Capt. Tim Rudy, on the arrests of

24 Hispanic day laborers while they were waiting for work

outside a 7-Eleven in Woodbridge. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Steven Ginsberg, Valerie Strauss, Maria Glod, Eric Weiss, Martin Weil, David A. Fahrenthold and Lori Montgomery.