Police Sweep Rounds Up 21 Guns

A weekend dragnet to seize firearms in the District recovered 21 guns, police said.

The biggest cache was found inside a house in the 1500 block of Sixth Street NW, where officers stalking a fencing operation found laptops, televisions and eight guns, including an SKS assault rifle and two magazines loaded with ammunition, said D.C. 3rd Police District Cmdr. Larry D. McCoy.

McCoy said his officers are better trained than before to spot guns and the signs that someone is carrying a gun, such as an unusual gait or the odd shape on one side of a big coat. Over time, officers have found guns in waistbands, pockets and under car seats. In one case, a rifle was found stashed inside the door panel of a van.

Weapons seizures have been increasing steadily in the District. In 2003, 1,982 guns were recovered; last year, the number rose to 2,065; and this year, officers have recovered 2,103 guns, according to police statistics.

Williams Joins In Thanksgiving Alms

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) helped distribute frozen turkeys and fixings to several hundred needy families yesterday at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Southeast Washington.

Afterward, the mayor visited Food and Friends, a meal-delivery service for people with the virus that causes AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses, in Northeast. There, he thanked volunteers who were chopping lettuce, peeling carrots and boxing up pumpkin pies in preparation for Thanksgiving on Thursday.

As usual, the mayor is planning to leave town for Thanksgiving. He expects to leave late today or early tomorrow for the home of his wife's family in St. Louis, according to spokesman Vince Morris.


Duncan Assails Baltimore Crime Ranking

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said yesterday that he was "disheartened" by Baltimore's ranking as the nation's second-most-dangerous large city by a private research company.

"Maryland will not achieve its full potential while the hardworking people of Baltimore are concerned about their safety," Duncan said of the city led by his rival for next year's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Mayor Martin O'Malley.

According to the rankings by Morgan Quitno Press, based on violent crime and car thefts, only Detroit is more dangerous among cities of 500,000 or more. The District was ranked third.

Steve Kearney, a spokesman for O'Malley, pointed to federal figures showing that incidents of violent crime have dropped significantly in Baltimore since O'Malley's arrival in 1999, a period in which Montgomery County has seen an uptick.

"We're focused on making progress every day," Kearney said.

Howard Executive to Run for State Senate

Howard County Executive James N. Robey, barred from seeking a third term in the post he has held since 1998, announced yesterday that he will run for the Maryland Senate District 13 seat.

Robey, one of the county's most popular Democrats, will try to unseat Republican incumbent Sandra B. Schrader in the 2006 election. Schrader was appointed to the Senate in 2001 and won election to a four-year term in 2002.

Robey and his wife, Janet, do not live in District 13 but plan to sell their Ellicott City home and move next year into a condominium in Elkridge, which lies within the district that stretches from Clarksville to the Anne Arundel County line in southern Howard.

"He doesn't live in my district. I find that amazing," said Schrader, 51. "As an incumbent and a 19-year resident here in District 13, I've worked very hard. I've been here seven days a week."

Robey, who turns 65 in January, said he rejected the idea of retirement.

"It would be contradictory to my very nature to walk away from public service completely," said Robey, who served as the county's chief of police before running for county executive. "It is and has been my life."

Court Invalidates Prison Regulations

The Maryland Court of Appeals struck down the rules used to discipline inmates in state prisons yesterday but delayed the effect of its ruling to give prison officials time to adopt new regulations.

The seven judges did not question the content of the rules, which govern how prisoners will be disciplined for infractions ranging from committing acts of violence to something as simple as not maintaining personal hygiene.

But the unanimous ruling said the regulations are invalid because corrections officials failed to follow the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, a state law that sets out guidelines all state agencies must follow when adopting regulations.

Mark Vernarelli, spokesman for the prison system, said lawyers were reviewing the ruling to determine its impact and what will need to be done.

Under the Administrative Procedures Act, agencies planning to adopt regulations must submit them to the attorney general and a legislative committee for review, give at least 45 days' public notice and submit the rules for publication in the Code of Maryland Regulations.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Division of Correction have promulgated seven volumes of rules without going by the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Anthrax Suit Ordered Back to State Court

A suit filed by the widow of a postal worker who died during the 2001 anthrax mailings was sent back to state court yesterday by a federal judge.

The suit claims Southern Maryland Hospital Center ignored signs Joseph P. Curseen suffered from anthrax until it was too late. The hospital, in turn, has sought to bring the federal government into the case, claiming it failed to protect workers at a Northeast Washington mail processing center that handled several letters containing spores that cause the potentially deadly disease. The hospital claims that the federal government should bear some responsibility for the death of Curseen.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte agreed with the plaintiff that the case should be heard in Prince George's County Circuit Court.

Although the U.S. government would have the right to move the case to federal court if it was the defendant in the suit, there is little case law involving such situations, and the time for requesting a move had long passed, Messitte said.

The lawsuit, which seeks an undisclosed sum, was originally filed in Prince George's Circuit Court last year. The federal government says it is not liable in the case.

"I stayed on my computer -- like a fool -- from 9 a.m. until a little after 12 p.m."

-- Brenda Sippel, a self-employed artist from Potomac, describing her fruitless effort to get a free ticket to see the baby panda at the National Zoo. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Michael Alison Chandler, Susan DeFord, Petula Dvorak and Lori Montgomery and the Associated Press.