Rescued Pets Arrive from Gulf Coast

Washington area animal welfare groups are continuing their efforts to help stranded and rescued animals in the Gulf Coast region devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The Washington Humane Society has dispatched several officers to help animal rescue and shelter efforts in Louisiana. Locally, the group is helping to house pets of hurricane evacuees who have been brought to the D.C. area.

The organization is accepting donations of animal bowls, leashes and collars at the D.C. Animal Shelter, 1201 New York Ave. NE, and at the Washington Humane Society shelter, 7319 Georgia Ave. NW. The first shipment of donated items will be sent today to Lake Charles, La.

A group of volunteers from the Calvert County Humane Society left yesterday for Gulfport, Miss., taking two trailers full of supplies. The group plans to stay several days and, if necessary, bring about 40 dogs from Mississippi animal shelters to shelters in Southern Maryland, a volunteer said.

Forum Spawns Development Planning

Organizers behind Reality Check, a regional development forum held in February, released an update yesterday on their efforts to convince government leaders, businesses and citizens to coordinate their approach to the massive growth expected in the Washington area over the next 20 years.

The planners, builders, environmentalists and others hope to channel development in ways that would put jobs and housing closer together, spur economic growth on the east side of the region and concentrate building near more developed areas and transit stations, all while protecting natural areas.

Laura Cole, an organizer from the Urban Land Institute research group, said participants have begun working on strategies in particular areas. In Montgomery County, for instance, planners are studying how to redevelop fading strip malls to accommodate housing.

Organizers in Fairfax County, Fredericksburg and Maryland are preparing for further exercises or related studies, Cole said. A Greater Washington Board of Trade forum of regional leaders will tackle the issues later this year.


N.Va. Officials Leave for New Orleans

A team of 10 government officials from the five major Northern Virginia jurisdictions left last night for New Orleans to provide assistance to the flood-stricken city. They went in response to a request from the National Emergency Management Association, which oversees a nationwide compact of communities willing to help others in emergencies.

The Northern Virginia group is headed by Prince William County Executive Craig S. Gerhart and includes Charlie T. Deane, the Prince William police chief, as well as a police captain from Alexandria and deputy fire chiefs from Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The group expects to be at work at the New Orleans city hall at 8 a.m. tomorrow, doing whatever is most needed by the city. The team expects to stay about 14 days.

Arlington County manager Ron Carlee said that assembling and sending the team marks a milestone in regional cooperation. He said it also demonstrates the capability of responding as a region to possible incidents here.

U-Va. Names Diversity Officer

William B. Harvey will be the University of Virginia's first vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, an appointment that U-Va. President John T. Casteen III said in a statement underscores how committed the administration is to diversity.

During the first week of school, U-Va. students reported five incidents of hearing racial slurs or finding them written on message boards on campus. The FBI recently determined that graffiti on a popular campus bridge was not racially motivated, but some students disagreed with that conclusion.

Harvey has been vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity for the American Council on Education.


Court Upholds State Employee's Dismissal

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that an employee at the Maryland Public Service Commission had been fired unlawfully by the commission's chairman, but it let stand her subsequent dismissal after a vote of the full commission.

Chrys Wilson was one of four PSC employees fired on the same day in April 2004. The court upheld a Circuit Court ruling that Commission Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler exceeded his authority by firing Wilson, an at-will employee, without the approval of the commission.

After the Circuit Court ruling, Wilson was reinstated, only to be fired again by the panel. Wilson went to court again to block that action, but the appellate judges dismissed her complaint, saying she had failed to follow the standard appeals process.

Such terminations are the subject of an ongoing legislative review of firings after the arrival of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in 2003.

Laurel Woman Survives Car Fire

Felicia A. White, 47, was trapped in a burning car yesterday in the 10900 block of Old Georgetown Road in Montgomery County. But thanks to the efforts of seven police officers, she survived.

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., White's 2000 Plymouth Breeze struck a utility pole and burst into flames just north of Interstate 270.

White was being treated at Suburban Hospital, according to police spokeswoman Louise Marthens. Police officers William Powell and Abigail Gaines were treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Police are not sure what caused White, of the 14000 block of Bramble Lane in Laurel, to veer off the road.

The District

City Takes Slots Petition Officials to Court

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics went to court yesterday to try to force promoters of a plan to legalize slot machines to pay a $622,880 fine for violating local election laws.

In a seven-page filing in D.C. Superior Court, the board argued that the Citizens Committee for the D.C. Video Lottery Terminal Initiative of 2004 and its officers conducted a petition drive last summer "fraught with numerous improprieties and irregularities" and were fined by the board but failed to pay by Monday as required. The board wants the court to enforce its order.

George Jones, an attorney representing the people who funded the slots campaign, said his clients believe the fine is excessive and are looking forward to challenging it before a "neutral third party." A hearing is set for Oct. 11.

"Unfortunately it takes a kind of unbelievable event like this to get people's attention and force them to change the way they do things."

-- Bob Smith, director of the International Telework Association & Council, on the increase in telecommuting because of high gas prices. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Jonathan Abel, Karlyn Barker, Susan Kinzie, Michael Laris, Lori Montgomery, Nikita Stewart, John Wagner and Martin Weil.