THE REGION

Ceremony Honors 'Capitol's Michelangelo'

Italian artist Constantino Brumidi, often called "the Michelangelo of the Capitol," was honored by congressional and District leaders yesterday with a ceremony in the Rotunda marking the 200th anniversary of his birth.

City officials declared "Constantino Brumidi Day" in the District, and historians, art lovers, members of the Constantino Brumidi Society and representatives of the Italian American and Greek American communities here and elsewhere attended the ceremony.

Brumidi designed and painted many of the murals that decorate the U.S. Capitol, including the 4,664-square-foot "eye" of its dome, which shows George Washington rising to the heavens. Brumidi arrived in the United States in 1852 and worked at the Capitol from 1855 until shortly before his death in 1880, at age 74. He became a U.S. citizen in 1857. He is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Northeast Washington.

MARYLAND

Pr. George's Proposes Smoking Ban

Smoking in restaurants in Prince George's County would be prohibited under legislation proposed yesterday by eight members of the County Council.

The legislation would impose a fine of as much as $200 for violations.

Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton), a former smoker, is the only member of the council who did not sign on as a sponsor. "I want to hear what people with various opinions have to say about its merits," said Hendershot, who quit smoking in 1992 after a stroke. "Chances are I'll vote for this measure. The impact of secondhand smoke is pretty pervasive."

The legislation, similar to a law in neighboring Montgomery County, would not affect clubs that serve alcoholic beverages.

Montgomery Takes Land for Parkway

The Montgomery County Council approved a plan yesterday to take nearly 18 acres from about two dozen landowners along the route of the long-planned Montrose Parkway.

The measure marks the final land acquisition before a planned September groundbreaking for the $68 million road that will link Interstate 270 and Rockville Pike. The 1.8-mile project has been on county drawing boards for more than a decade.

The council approved a "quick-take" that allowed the county to assume ownership of the land under principles of eminent domain but left it to the courts to determine sales prices.

Some property owners have complained that county officials negotiated in bad faith and did not offer fair compensation. Others in the North Bethesda community near the proposed parkway have said it will do little to relieve traffic congestion.

EPA Talks on Mercury Pollution Stalled

Representatives of the Ehrlich administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency meeting to discuss mercury air pollution from electric power plants have yet to make much progress, officials said.

When Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) rejected a request in May from Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) to join other states in filing a lawsuit challenging the EPA's decision to exempt coal-fired power plants from mercury emission rules, he said talks with EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson might be more productive and get faster results than a lawsuit.

But when officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment met with EPA officials last month in their first discussion of the mercury rules, Johnson did not attend because Ehrlich was not part of the Maryland delegation.

"Administrator Johnson would be happy to meet with Governor Ehrlich," said Eryn Witcher, spokeswoman for the federal agency. "But if it's his (Ehrlich's) top aide, it's most appropriate to have the administration's top staff there. That's the normal protocol."

VIRGINIA

Falls Church Man Killed in Wreck Identified

A Falls Church man who died Friday after the vehicle in which he was riding collided with a tow truck in the Burke area was identified by authorities yesterday as Justin R. Boggs of the 6300 block of Dockser Terrace.

Fairfax County police said Boggs, 22, died at the scene of the 10:30 a.m. crash, near Braddock and Rolling roads. Police said the driver of the 1995 Jeep Cherokee, the vehicle in which Boggs was a passenger, was later charged with driving while intoxicated.

The driver, identified by police as Melodie Bowman, 21, of the 9500 block of Blake Lane in Fairfax, suffered serious injuries in the crash, the 31st to involve fatalities this year in Fairfax.

Police said Bowman failed to yield when turning left onto Rolling Road from westbound Braddock Road, driving into the path of a Ford F450 tow truck driven by a 39-year-old Falls Church area man. Other charges are possible, police said.

GOP Sues Insurer Over Eavesdropping Case

The Republican Party of Virginia has filed a lawsuit against its liability insurance company, alleging that the company should have reimbursed the party for the $750,000 settlement it paid to Democrats for eavesdropping on two conference calls, according to the GOP's executive director.

The lawsuit, filed July 18, asks for $950,000, which includes $200,000 in attorneys' fees and other expenses. The party's former executive director and chairman pleaded guilty to involvement in the case, which roiled Virginia politics.

GOP Executive Director Shawn Smith said the party believes that insurance should have covered the unapproved actions of its former employees. John Thelen, a spokesman for the insurance company, Union Insurance Co. of Lincoln, Nebraska, declined to comment on the suit.

Mary Baldwin Alumna Pledges $6 Million

An alumna of Mary Baldwin College has agreed to give the school $6 million, the second-highest cash commitment in its history, college officials said yesterday.

Bertie Deming Smith, who attended Mary Baldwin in the mid-1940s, recently gave $500,000 to the all-female Staunton college. She also pledged $6 million over the next three years, which will be matched by gifts from other donors.

"Women's colleges, and Mary Baldwin in particular, deserve and must have the same financial support from alumnae families and friends as that given to larger private and public colleges and universities," Smith said in a statement.

The school's single largest cash gift was $10 million. But over the years, Smith has given and pledged $10.5 million to the school.

"This is a public service people are entitled to. There is a lack of concern for customers."

-- Stella LaTaillade, a visitor from New York,

on continued power outages in the District. -- A1.

Staff writers Karlyn Barker, Miranda S. Spivak, Jamie Stockwell, Ovetta Wiggins, Michael D. Shear and Del Quentin Wilber and the Associated Press contributed to this report.