Metro Asked to Explain Its Crime Reporting

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, requested documents yesterday from Metro's governing board about the transit agency's methods of reporting crime statistics.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 20 that transit officials undercount serious crime because the agency does not include incidents handled by law enforcement officers other than Metro's police. For an 18-month period ending in June, Metro counted 463 serious crimes at its rail stations, but 98 other similar incidents remained off its books. The uncounted incidents increased the total by more than 20 percent, according to records reviewed by The Post.

Metro's methods of counting "give a false impression of safety," Davis said in a statement. He said he made the request after recent media coverage and after the committee was contacted by a parent concerned about safety.

"How do you provide assurance that the system is safe if you only have part of the picture?" Davis spokesman Drew Crockett said.

Metro officials have said they plan to give the public a fuller accounting of Metro-related crime at the 86 stations.


Doctors Crowd Malpractice Cap Hearing

Dozens of doctors in white examination coats jammed into a D.C. Council hearing yesterday on medical malpractice legislation. The doctors were showing support for capping jury malpractice awards, which they say are causing insurance premiums to soar, forcing some doctors out of the District. Other people at the hearing, who said they were victims of medical malpractice, argued that juries should be free to continue awarding compensation that they deem to be commensurate with suffering.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has proposed legislation that would cap jury awards for pain and suffering at $250,000. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the health committee, said the harmful effects of large jury awards have been exaggerated. He has offered a package of reforms that does not include caps.

Watchdog Lays Out Yardstick for HIV Fight

Condom distribution and syringe exchanges are some of the areas on which the city's HIV-AIDS programs will be judged six months after the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice called for major changes, the center has said.

The center used World AIDS Day yesterday to release the "report card" it will use to measure progress by February. In particular, it will grade the HIV/AIDS Administration on whether data on HIV infections are being publicly reported, whether condom distribution and substance abuse treatment have been significantly expanded and whether the agency has developed "a citywide strategy for routine HIV testing in all medical settings."

D.C. Students Make Gains But Rank Last

Fourth- and eighth-graders in the District made steady gains in reading and math but ranked at the bottom on a national assessment of 11 urban school systems, according to results released yesterday.

District fourth-graders taking the Trial Urban District Assessment posted math scores that increased from 205 in 2003 to 211 in 2005. Reading scores for fourth-graders increased from 188 to 191.

Eighth-graders' scores in math increased from 243 to 245. Reading scores decreased from 239 to 238.

District students in both grades scored below all 11 school systems, including Charlotte, Austin, San Diego, Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The scores on the exam, which is part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, were released in October, but the rankings were released yesterday.

"As I indicated in October, making small gains is not good enough," Superintendent Clifford B. Janey said in a statement. "All of us in the District of Columbia have a lot of work to do. The TUDA data shows us that larger gains are possible, and we are determined to reach those larger gains sooner rather than later."


Baltimore Attraction Fees Cut to $1 or Less

More than two dozen Baltimore attractions, including museums, are reducing admission prices to $1 or less during the first weekend in December as part of a campaign to promote downtown Baltimore.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. organizes Downtown Dollar or Less Days each year as a component of its Downtown for the Holidays promotion.

"The downtown attractions are eager to participate," said Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership. "It brings in visitors that may not normally come."

The program is planned for Saturday and Sunday.


Preservationists Say Land Fund Is Ready

A group trying to preserve 1,800 acres off Potomac Creek in Stafford County was awarded $500,000 yesterday, a gift members call the final piece in a $20 million offer they say they'll make to the owner.

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust said it hopes the award from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation will help preservationists reach a deal with K&M Properties of McClean to buy nearly half of Crow's Nest, one of the largest privately owned undeveloped tracts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The two sides have been trying unsuccessfully for years to reach a deal, and K&M temporarily had a contract with developer Toll Bros. for $50 million for the whole property. That deal fell through. K&M attorney Clark Leming said yesterday that his client had not been contacted by anyone about a purchase deal.

McDougle Making Run for State Senate

Virginia Del. Ryan T. McDougle announced this week that he will seek the state Senate seat being vacated by Bill Bolling, a fellow Republican who was elected lieutenant governor Nov. 8.

McDougle, a lawyer who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2001, is likely to face Roger G. Cavendish of Caroline County in the special election for the district that stretches north and east of Richmond, through Hanover, Spotsylvania and Middlesex counties. Cavendish plans to make a formal announcement Tuesday, according to the Democratic Party of Virginia.

The State Board of Elections said it is unsure when the special election will be held, because a court-supervised recount in the attorney general's race is pending. The state's voting machines have been locked up until the recount has been completed, which could be by the end of the month.

"I don't need love, I need money."

-- District cabdriver Baire Russom, on the DC Hospitality Alliance's

effort to show appreciation for cabbies yesterday

by serving them coffee and doughnuts. -- B1

Staff writers Michelle Boorstein, V. Dion Haynes, Chris L. Jenkins, Susan Levine, Lena H. Sun, Eric M. Weiss and the Associated Press contributed to this report.