Court Denies GOP Challenge

Of Ohio Amendment Effort

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio court yesterday dismissed a challenge to four proposed constitutional amendments that could strip elected officials -- mainly Republicans -- of control over electoral redistricting and elections.

The three-judge panel of the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals took a single day to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Republican-led opponents of the amendments, which will appear on Ohio's ballot Nov. 8, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said. The challenge sought to throw out some of the 350,000 petition signatures gathered to put the initiatives on the ballot because out-of-state circulators were employed to collect them.

One proposed amendment calls for creation of a nonpartisan panel to replace elected officeholders in determining the shape of electoral districts, the second creates a panel to run elections in lieu of the secretary of state, the third reduces the limits on campaign contributions, and the fourth makes it easier to obtain an absentee ballot.

* SAN JOSE -- A Nevada couple pleaded guilty to all charges related to planting a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili in a scheme to extort money from the fast-food restaurant chain. Anna Ayala, 39, and Jaime Placencia, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft in a scheme that the Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. claimed cost it $2.5 million in lost sales because of bad publicity.

* ATLANTA -- Months after a shooting rampage left three people dead at the Fulton County Courthouse, exasperated judges said that security cameras still have not been plugged in and faulty doors have yet to be replaced. A task force charged with making security recommendations after the shooting also said the number of sworn officers assigned to the courthouse must be increased by roughly a third to secure the building, in downtown Atlanta.

* DENVER -- A University of Colorado faculty panel recommended a full investigation into seven allegations of research misconduct involving professor Ward Churchill, who triggered a national outcry for comparing some Sept. 11, 2001, victims to a Nazi, interim provost Susan Avery said.

* PHILADELPHIA, Miss. -- A judge sent Edgar Ray Killen back to prison, saying the Klansman jailed for orchestrating the murder of three civil rights workers had misled the court about his health to win bail. Killen, who broke both legs in a tree-cutting accident in March, testified last month that he was in great pain, was unable to walk and needed therapy that was unavailable in prison. But a sheriff's deputy testified Friday that he saw Killen, 80, at a gas station, walking and standing beside his pickup truck. Several other deputies said they had seen Killen driving.

* CHICAGO -- The former director of administration for Chicago's water department was sentenced to more than two years in prison for serving as a so-called bagman, collecting bribes from trucking companies that wanted city hauling work. Gerald Wesolowski, 46, also was fined $7,500 and agreed to forfeit $25,000 for his part in an expanding corruption scandal that has prompted an embarrassed Mayor Richard M. Daley to fire several city officials.

-- From News Services