Pimlico Owner Plans to Cut Operations

Citing Slots, Magna Corp. to Reduce Racing Days

The owners of Maryland's two largest racetracks announced that the state's persistent reluctance to legalize slot machines will force them to dramatically reduce their operations, potentially hobbling an already ailing local horse industry.

The plan -- outlined by Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns the Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks -- involves selling the company's 178-acre training facility in Bowie for a housing development and reducing, by nearly half, the number of live racing days in the state. The Preakness would remain at Pimlico, but racing there would be cut from 60 days a year to 18. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) said the decision is the latest sign that Maryland's horse racing industry is collapsing.

Shift in Development Oversight Sought

Duncan Would Strip Planning Department of Role

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) proposed stripping the Department of Park and Planning of responsibility for enforcing development plans approved by the county and moving it to the Department of Permitting Services. Unlike Park and Planning, which is overseen by the County Council, Permitting Services is under Duncan's control. County officials have identified a lack of coordination between the two departments as a central reason for the lapses of oversight in Clarksburg, where a developer and four builders put up hundreds of homes in violation of height and setback requirements. Meanwhile, new allegations of builder impropriety were made by Clarksburg residents.

Opponents Seek Dirt on 2006 Candidates

O'Malley, Duncan Camps Request Information

More than a year before Election Day, the search for dirt on candidates running for governor and U.S. Senate in Maryland is well underway.

Legal offices in Montgomery County, Baltimore and Annapolis have been hit with extensive public information requests from researchers for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan -- Democrats considering bids for governor. Other researchers are seeking documents that could provide grist for Democrats if Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele becomes the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate next year.

Anne Arundel Schools Chief Resigns

Educator's Move to Harvard Follows Critical Audit

Eric J. Smith, the nationally renowned educator who took command of the Anne Arundel school system in 2002 and brought three years of academic prosperity and political tumult, announced that he will resign to accept a job at Harvard University. His announcement came less than two months after the release of an audit that found deep faults in the school system's human resources department, including allegations of unorthodox hiring bonuses and undeserved pay raises.

Conviction for Killing Deputies Reversed

New Trial Ordered; Questioning of Jurors Blamed

A Maryland appellate court ordered a new trial for a man convicted of murdering two Prince George's County sheriff's deputies in 2002 as they tried to take him into custody for a psychiatric evaluation. James R. Logan's conviction must be reversed because the judge who presided over his trial did not adequately question potential jurors to determine their suitability, the Court of Special Appeals said.

Tactic to Catch Sex Offenders Assailed

Court Rebuffs Police Posing as Children Online

The increasingly common law-enforcement tactic of adult officers posing as children in Internet chat rooms to arrest potential sex offenders came under legal attack when Maryland's highest court ruled that the law does not allow the prosecution of people who believed they were dealing with children. The court overturned the conviction of a Frederick County man, saying he could not be found guilty of committing a crime with a nonexistent victim.

Helping Hands D.C. Council member Marion Barry and Lydia Mease went to the D.C. Armory to aid such hurricane evacuees as Saundrea Fenasci, 7.