Based on information from the Anne Arundel County school system, a Metro in Brief item June 2 misstated the percentage of county parents who indicated satisfaction with Superintendent Eric J. Smith in a recent survey. The figure is 53 percent, not 81 percent. School officials subsequently corrected the error. (Published 6/4/05)
Prince George's Pushes for Federal Offices
Prince George's County officials and leaders with the county's Black Chamber of Commerce are pushing the General Services Administration, the federal government's real estate arm, to develop and lease office space around Metro stations in the county.
Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) said Prince George's, which is home to more federal employees than any other county in the country, is a prime location for federal offices. Yet, he said, Prince George's has 2 million square feet of federally leased property, far less than Arlington County's 10 million square feet or Fairfax County's 6 million.
Peter N.G. Schwartz plans to build as much as 3 million square feet of office, retail and residential space on two large tracts near the Branch Avenue and Largo Town Center Metro stations. Dana Stebbins, an attorney for Schwartz, said that residential properties are being built at the Branch Avenue location and that her client would like to see some of the office space leased to the federal government.
"There is no logical business justification for this gap," Wynn said yesterday at a news conference outside the Largo Town Center Metro station. "Other jurisdictions, such as Arlington, have plenty of GSA-leased space around Metrorail. Why not here?"
Harry C. Alford, head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said the issue comes down to race. "It is clear that Prince George's has been redlined by government officials," he said.
Petition Drive Against Gay Rights Bills Dies
Organizers of a petition drive to block gay rights legislation failed to meet a deadline Tuesday on all four of the bills they were seeking to derail, the Maryland secretary of state's office said yesterday.
Maryland allows residents to seek a public vote on laws passed by the General Assembly if they collect enough signatures. For the drive to continue, organizers needed to present more than 17,000 signatures -- a third of the total requirement -- by Tuesday.
Two of the bills they sought to block were vetoed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) but could be subject to override votes in January. One would grant certain rights to unmarried couples. The other would extend a property transfer tax exemption to domestic partners.
The other two bills, which Ehrlich signed, expand the state's hate crimes law and require schools to report incidents of bullying, including those motivated by sexual orientation.
Arundel Superintendent Gets Higher Score
More teachers are satisfied with Anne Arundel County Superintendent Eric J. Smith, according to a survey released Tuesday by the school board.
According to the survey, conducted in April by an independent research firm and funded by the school system's educational foundation, 74 percent of school staff reported satisfaction with the superintendent, up from 62 percent a year ago. Among parents, 81 percent reported satisfaction with Smith, up from 77 percent in 2004.
Teacher support may prove crucial to Smith as he completes his third year in Anne Arundel. The county teachers union recently launched its own survey and said it would hold a confidence vote in Smith if the results showed he was unpopular.
State to Skip Lawsuit on Mercury Pollution
The Ehrlich administration has opted not to join 12 other states in a legal effort to overturn new federal regulations that environmental groups say will hinder efforts to curb air pollution from power plants.
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., a Democrat, had sought approval from Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to join the challenge of the rules announced in March by the Bush administration. The rules exempt coal-fired power plants from tough mercury pollution control requirements, instituting an emissions trading program instead.
Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the governor was following the "recommendations of the scientists at the Maryland Department of the Environment" and referred questions to that agency.
Julie Oberg, a Department of the Environment spokeswoman, said the agency is concerned that the Bush administration's approach to mercury is not strong enough. Instead of filing a lawsuit, the agency believed it would be more productive to ask for a meeting with new EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to request stronger rules.
Randolph-Macon Receives Record Gift
Randolph-Macon College announced a $4.3 million donation yesterday, the biggest individual gift in the school's history, from the estate of Frank E. Brown of Richmond.
Although Brown, a paperboard company executive, did not go to college, he became interested in Randolph-Macon, served on its board and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.
The gift requires the school to raise a matching sum to be used for the school's most pressing needs.
Antiwar Demonstration Planned for Fall
Antiwar demonstrators announced plans yesterday to stage protests in Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco in September.
The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition said it expects to draw more than 100,000 protesters to the three cities in demonstrations Sept. 24.
ANSWER plans to "surround the White House with a sea of antiwar protesters," Brian Becker, the coalition's national coordinator, said at a news conference at the National Press Club.
Foundation to Take Children to Ballgame
The Freddie Mac Foundation will donate 50 tickets to each Washington Nationals home game to be used by disadvantaged youth in the District, Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced yesterday.
Williams, along with the foundation's president, Maxine B. Baker, said the tickets will allow children, particularly those who may not have an opportunity to attend a game, to enjoy the experience of baseball. A total of 3,000 tickets at $7 each will be donated.
The tickets will be distributed by the mayor's office and the Department of Parks and Recreation, with help from such organizations as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
"We always said that bringing baseball to our city was about more than just dollars and cents," Williams said. "It's about community. . . . This donation will help to make Washington Nationals baseball games accessible to more children in our city."
"We will look different tomorrow than we did yesterday."
-- Interim Executive Director Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti on plans to pull the Whitman-Walker Clinic out of the suburbs and reduce staff and programs. -- A1
Compiled from reports by staff writers John Wagner, Ovetta Wiggins, Susan Kinzie, Paul Schwartzman, Daniel de Vise and Yolanda Woodlee and the Associated Press.