MARYLAND STATE: — City Council delays Block hearing
Faced with angry opposition from business owners and fearful community residents, the City Council is delaying action on a bill that would put Baltimore's red-light district out of business.
A public hearing on the measure, scheduled today, has been postponed until fall at the request of the bill's sponsors, who say they need more time to address community fears. The decision came after more than 100 people, including several council members, opposed the bill last week before the Planning Commission.
"The major problem is community concern about the relocation of The Block businesses to neighborhoods," Council President Mary Pat Clarke said yesterday.
Today's hearing has been recast as an informational session where Planning Department staff will brief the council on issues surrounding the bill, Ms. Clarke said. No testimony from the public will be heard.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's daughter, Katherine, is being transferred from a public school to a private one -- from Roland Park Elementary/Middle School on the east side of the 5200 block of Roland Ave. to Roland Park Country School on the west side.
Mr. Schmoke said yesterday his decision to move his daughter, who is turning 12 and entering the seventh grade, was not a vote of "no confidence" in the city school system he has vowed to improve.
"I have made a judgment based on what I think are my daughter's educational needs," he said. "People who know me know that my children have had experiences in both private and public schools."
The mayor said he expects criticism -- much as he receives it on almost any decision he makes on the job.
"Whether people agree or not, I think they will respect the decision I made as a parent. I think my record is clear in terms of doing what I can to improve . . . our schools."
State Treasurer Lucille Maurer returns to work today, seven weeks after doctors removed a benign tumor that had been pressing on her brain.
For two weeks, the 69-year-old state treasurer has been gradually easing herself back into a modest work schedule and today, a bit ahead of schedule, she was reclaiming her seat on the powerful three-member Board of Public Works.
"Actually, I feel better than before I went in," she said. She said she intends to finish the final two years of her term and might serve beyond that.
Anne Arundel County:
In a last-minute budget compromise, the Annapolis City Council voted to finance a long-awaited ambulance for Eastport while holding the line on most city spending in the upcoming year.
The council approved a lean $37.2 million budget for day-to-day expenses Monday night and narrowly voted to dip into a contingency fund to hire seven paramedics for a third city ambulance.
Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, proposed the compromise that will put the new ambulance in service Sept. 1. A compromise plan introduced by Alderman Wayne Turner, R-Ward 6, failed.
Mr. Snowden's compromise pulls $56,000 from the city's $268,000 contingency fund and $50,000 from money for a new police communications system.
Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and Aldermen Turner, M. Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 7, and Ellen Moyer, D-Ward 8, sided with the Snowden plan in a 5-4 vote.
The $37.2 million budget approved by the council barely increases spending over last year's $36.8 million budget. It keeps the current property tax rate of $1.80 per $100 of assessed value.
But higher assessments are expected to raise the average tax tab 9.1 percent in the budget year beginning July 1.
A Conowingo woman died yesterday after her car collided with a school bus carrying 10 handicapped children in Level.
Okye Young Bliss, 49, of the 700 block of Old Conowingo Road was flown by state police MedEvac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she died at 10:10 a.m.
Neither the bus driver nor any of the students, all of whom wore seat belts, were injured in the accident at Md. 155 and Md. 161, according to the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
The children were being taken from Havre de Grace to classes at John Archer School in Bel Air when the accident occurred just before 9 a.m.
Mrs. Bliss had been southbound on Md. 161 and failed to yield at Md. 155, police said. The bus struck her car on the driver's side.
County police arrested a 32-year-old man yesterday on a warrant charging him in the fatal shooting last week of a man in Columbia.
Lawrence Rico Evans, 21, of the 7200 block of Edenbrook Drive in the village of King's Contrivance, was shot as he was about to enter his girlfriend's apartment building in the same block.
Dwayne Romaine Briggs, also of that block, was charged with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. He was held overnight without bond at the county detention center pending a bail review hearing today before a District Court judge.