Council Vote on Tax Increase Delayed

$1 Billion Boost Would Pay for School Renovations

Criticism by business groups has stalled a bill in the D.C. Council that would raise $1 billion for school renovations by various tax increases. The bill's sponsor, Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), delayed a vote of the education committee, which she chairs, until Dec. 5.

The delay will allow school officials to explain in more detail how they would use the money and to address concerns of business leaders about cost overruns in past construction projects.

Police Firings Surge in Fiscal 2005

Union Officials Allege Unfair Dismissals

A growing number of D.C. police officers are being fired: 55 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared with 51 in the previous two fiscal years combined.

Police officials say the increase reflects a new law requiring speedier resolution of discipline cases. Union officials contend that the police department is acting more aggressively and firing some officers unfairly.

Both sides agree that an increase in improper behavior by officers does not seem to be the reason for the rise.

2 Inmates Convicted in Shooting Scam

Men Were Going to Sue the City, Prosecutors Say

A D.C. Superior Court jury convicted two D.C. jail inmates Tuesday of conspiring to have themselves shot to sue the city for negligence.

Four inmates were wounded Dec. 20, 2003, shot by what prosecutors said was a gun smuggled into prison. Two later pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme. The jury convicted the other two, Shawn Gray, the accused mastermind, and Leonard Johnson, of conspiracy and four weapons offenses but acquitted them of several other charges.

Mayor Candidates Debate for First Time

Schools, Housing, Development Are Focus of Talks

Five major Democratic candidates participated in the first debate among hopefuls who want to succeed retiring Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). The 90-minute talkfest Wednesday attracted 700 spectators and included debate about fixing the school system, providing affordable housing and beefing up economic development.

Early polls suggest that council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and council member Adrian M. Fenty (Ward 4) are the best-known of the five candidates. The others are council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (Ward 5), lobbyist Michael A. Brown and former telecommunications executive Marie C. Johns.

Steering the Future of Walter Reed

Study Will Identify Uses for 113-Acre Compound

A new redevelopment authority will study what to do with Walter Reed Army Medical Center in upper Northwest, which the Pentagon will close in 2011.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said the group, which he will appoint, will include D.C. residents and will look at how the 113-acre compound can be "opened up and incorporated back into the fabric of our city." The Defense Department has not announced what it plans to do with the land, which city officials want to be turned over to the District.

'Gasifier' Promoted as Energy Answer

Invention Would Run on Garbage and Sewage

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and comedian-activist Dick Gregory are pushing city officials to acquire a machine called a "gasifier" that, according to its inventor, can use garbage or sewage to create pollution-free electricity or drinking water.

But their plans to demonstrate the machine in a Southeast Washington parking lot ran into vocal objections from the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church across the street. After a yelling match between Barry and Wilson on Wednesday in which police intervened, the machine was not turned on during a news conference Thursday.

Across the Region

Pr. George's Joins List of Jurisdictions With Ban

* The Prince George's County Council passed legislation banning smoking in bars and restaurants. Howard County and the District are looking at similar plans.

Head Start Dynel Johnson, 8, heads a soccer ball during the kickoff of a soccer program.