City budget is due final voteThe City Council gave...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

June 19, 1992

MARYLAND STATE: — City budget is due final vote

The City Council gave preliminary approval yesterday to a $2.08 billion budget for next year, leaving Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's spending proposal untouched.

Thanks to increases in state aid, Baltimore's budget -- due a final vote today -- would beef up the police force and increase education spending without raising city taxes. But the plan means a second straight year without cost-of-living pay increases for 26,000 employees.

The budget would hold the city's property tax rate at $5.90 per $100 of assessed valuation -- by far the highest in Maryland. It also would keep the city's piggyback income tax rate at 50 percent of the state income tax rate.

The operating portion of the budget is $1.86 billion, a 4.2 percent increase over last year.

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A 36-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter were found shot to death yesterday in their Northwest Baltimore home.

A 2-year-old girl, who was being cared for by the victims and may have witnessed the slayings inside the house in the 3700 block of Crestfield Court, was not harmed, police said.

The victims were identified as Vanessa Price and her daughter, Bianca Price. Each had been shot at least once in the head and had been dead about 24 hours, said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman.

Bianca was last seen alive Wednesday when she left her 9-year-old brother at a local day care center. He has been placed with Child Protective Services.

Police today were seeking Vanessa Price's boyfriend for questioning.

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The railroad crossing on Waterview Avenue between Cherry Hill Road and Sidney Avenue in South Baltimore will be closed this weekend, beginning at 7 o'clock tonight.

The closing will allow the Mass Transit Administration to reconstruct the crossing to accommodate light rail.

Detours will be posted.

The section is to reopen by 6 a.m. Monday.

In a move that may be unprecedented in the nation, a panel of three federal judges hopes to sit with the seven judges of Maryland's highest court to decide the constitutionality of Maryland's new legislative redistricting plan.

The unusual level of cooperation, described in a June 15 opinion issued by the three federal judges, could result in a single court master being appointed to hear legal challenges to the redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly earlier this year.

The master would report his findings to the respective state and federal courts, which would render independent decisions.

Six legal challenges to the plan already have been filed, two in federal court and four in state court.

They generally allege that the plan fails to provide for sufficient black representation, favors Democrats over Republicans and unfairly inflates Baltimore's influence by allowing five city districts to overlap into Baltimore County.

The Court of Appeals has set a July 1 filing deadline for challenges the redistricting plan. The state must respond by Aug. 31.

Anne Arundel County:

One by one, 14 young boys came forward and signed a piece of paper -- the paper they hope will change how people perceive them and how they perceive themselves.

The boys, all suspended or expelled from county schools for fighting, signed an agreement Wednesday night at Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church in Annapolis, acknowledging their past behavior and promising fighting would not be a part of their future.

"What happened shouldn't have really happened," said Teon Hall, 15. "We shouldn't have been fighting at all. It was just stupid."

Teon was among eight boys expelled and two dozen suspended from Annapolis High School in the past year. Many expulsions and suspensions resulted from two March fights that resulted in the arrests of some students.

The fights generated controversy among teachers who feared working with the students and community members who felt the school system overreacted.

Baltimore County:

The trial of a Dundalk doctor on charges he terrorized two White Marsh women continued today in Circuit Court.

Dr. Leonard Harris, 37, also is charged with raping three women in separate attacks dating back to July 1990.

Dr. Harris, described by co-workers as mild-mannered, maintains he is the victim of mistaken identity in the White Marsh case, in which he is charged with attemped kidnapping, assault and daytime housebreaking.

Lisa Cline, 27, one of the women he is accused of terrorizing, testified yesterday that Dr. Harris grabbed her neighbor, Betty Craven, 64, and tried to drag the woman into her apartment. Dr. Harris also put a gun to Mrs. Craven's chest and only let go when police arrived, she said. She also said Dr. Harris broke into her apartment.

Dr. Harris claims he was looking for an apartment when he found what turned out to be a BB pistol and a red mesh shirt, and tried to explain to Mrs. Craven what had happened when she grabbed him, defense attorney Rodney Gaston said.

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