Kendel Ehrlich Carries Political Influence

Domestic Image Veils a Presence in Inner Circle

Maryland first lady Kendel S. Ehrlich crisscrosses the state as the upbeat antidote to her bare-knuckled husband, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who has spent much of his first term trading blows with the state's Democratic establishment and battling the press corps. Like other first ladies, she has adopted charitable causes and policy initiatives, and she has a steady schedule of speaking. At the same time, Kendel Ehrlich has been a quiet presence in the governor's inner circle. Although the first lady has never been to a senior staff meeting, a top aide said: "She's influential. She'll weigh in."

Slain Pr. George's Officer Remembered

Sergeant's Kindness Noted in Emotional Funeral

Thousands of law enforcement officers filed into the Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro to pay their respects to Prince George's police Sgt. Steven F. Gaughan, who was shot to death while chasing a suspect on foot after a traffic stop. Gaughan, 41, left behind his wife, Donna, and two children. Many of the mourners remembered Gaughan for his big heart and his huge grin. The suspect in his shooting is being held without bond.

Montgomery Sex-Ed Deal Reached

Agreement Doesn't Bar Homosexuality Discussion

The Montgomery County school system will exclude any reference to specific religious beliefs as it revises its sex education curriculum, but it might still include discussion of sexual orientation under the terms of an agreement approved 7 to 0 by the school board. The deal came after negotiations between the board and two parent groups that sued the school system over a previous rewrite. The settlement also requires the system to reimburse the parent groups -- Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and the Virginia-based Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays -- $36,000 for attorneys' fees.

Meeting Held on Arundel Racial Incidents

Recent Wave Spurred Talk With Rights Leaders

Civil rights leaders met with the Anne Arundel County state's attorney to discuss several racial incidents near the Maryland capital this year, including a slur etched into the paint of a car, racist fliers scattered on a lawn and the alleged beating of a white student by blacks at a high school at Fort Meade. They see it as a disquieting trend in a county that has had its share of high-profile racial episodes in recent decades. The meeting yielded an agreement to "interface a little better with the community," State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said.

Plans Stalled for Wilson Bridge Lanes

States Haven't Designated Form of Transit

Maryland and Virginia have not figured out what to do with two of the 12 lanes planned for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge now rising in the Potomac River. The lanes must be used for carpools, trains or another form of transit under the deal that launched the project to replace the aging span, but state leaders said they have not yet talked about which to choose. "When the bridge opens, those lanes at that time will represent excess capacity," Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said. The lanes will serve as shoulders until a use is designated.

Across the Region

Zoo Animal Death Concerns; Airspace Breeched

* Five animal deaths at the National Zoo between December 2003 and December 2004 have renewed concerns about animal care there.

* For the second time in six weeks, a private plane violated the restricted airspace around the nation's capital and triggered an evacuation. The flight Wednesday was intercepted by fighter jets.

* Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) has formed an exploratory committee to consider running for attorney general if the incumbent doesn't seek reelection. Perez, a Dominican American, would be the first Hispanic to run for statewide office.

* The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issued 1,400 stop-work orders during a recent 17-month period in a crackdown on illegal residential construction and renovation.

Sailing's Perks: Geoff Bridges brings up drinks after a race on the Severn River.