Howard Week

January 20, 2002

Redistricting plan for schools continues to raise questions

Howard County schools Superintendent John R. O'Rourke has offered fresh answers to the county's high school redistricting puzzle, but his new boundary lines plan so far has served mostly to invite new questions.

Throughout the county, parents and community members are picking their respective bones with the last-minute proposal offered by O'Rourke two weeks ago.

Most have concerns about particular neighborhoods. Many object to not being notified that a change was coming. But even more fundamentally, after the unexpected unveiling of the new plan at a school board meeting Jan. 9, many have begun to take issue with the redistricting process.

Site selection, fund raising for crisis center are near

A group that hopes to build a place for Howard County's homeless, runaways and others in crisis is close to picking a location and launching a fund-raising campaign for the $6.5 million center.

Three nonprofit organizations that teamed up to plan the 24- hour-a-day facility hope to choose one of three sites by the end of the month, said Jean Moon, a member of the Crisis & Support Center Coalition.

One spot under consideration is a former horse farm on the northeast corner of Old Montgomery Road and Route 100. The other two are near Kings Contrivance Village Center and Long Reach High School.

Rouse to pay $1.45 billion for 8 of Dutch firm's malls

In one of the nation's biggest real estate deals, the Rouse Co. and two other firms said last week that they would pay $5.3 billion in cash to a Dutch company for 35 prime shopping malls and other assets.

The Rouse Co., which developed the Columbia community and malls such as The Gallery at Harborplace and Towson Town Center, will spend about $1.45 billion. It will get eight of the malls, some of which were partly owned by Rouse, and cement its place among the country's largest purveyors of higher-end retailers.

The deal was worked out during the past several months and grew out of a bitter power struggle that will dissolve the seller, Netherlands-based Rodamco North America NV, and split its malls and other assets among Rouse, Simon Property Group Inc. and Westfield America Trust.

This is by far the largest deal for the Columbia-based Rouse Co., eclipsing its acquisition of Howard Hughes Corp. in Nevada for $520 million in 1996.

Robey issues warnings about spending cutbacks

Issuing warnings about spending cuts and carrying a real umbrella for economic "rainy days," Howard County Executive James N. Robey prepared the county's business community Wednesday for what promises to be his most difficult year in office.

Robey's annual State of the County speech before a sold-out Chamber of Commerce lunch at a Columbia hotel revealed few specifics about his plans for dealing with a projected $18 million budget shortfall - other than eliminating $7.3 million in capital budget spending for next year.

The former police chief raced back from Gov. Parris N. Glendening's address in Annapolis at 150 mph on a demonstration flight of a new Bell helicopter for the Columbia speech, telling the crowd that the governor's take on state affairs was not very different from his. He talked first about the effect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and the awe he felt viewing the destruction in New York.

At one point, Robey, recalling the 1991 recession, used former County Executive Charles I. Ecker's words from the same chamber speech 11 years ago to characterize the situation: "There will be temporary sacrifices in both the current year and next year to protect and reinforce the permanent gains we have made." Other than calling those sacrifices "sensible, sensitive and as equitable as possible," Robey gave no details.

Officer's assault charge against wife `unfounded'

Carroll County state's attorneys decided Wednesday not to prosecute a woman on an assault charge filed in November by her estranged husband, a Howard County police officer, calling it "unfounded and retaliatory."

Elizabeth Williams, 33, had earlier filed two sets of assault charges against police Cpl. Michael Williams, 40, including a claim that he had intimidated her with a handgun.

"It's very common in domestic violence cases for the true abuser to try to manipulate the criminal justice system to make the situation better in his case," said Carroll County Assistant State's Attorney Maria L. Oesterreicher. "We try not to let that happen."

A theft charge against Elizabeth Williams filed with the assault charge by Michael Williams is being investigated, prosecutors said.

Carroll County prosecutors said they will proceed with charges against Michael Williams, stemming from an alleged incident of domestic violence Aug. 26 and another Oct. 20. No court dates have been set.

Police seek man who drove slowly past school bus stop

Howard County police announced Wednesday they are searching for a suspicious man who was seen Tuesday driving slowly past a middle school bus stop in the Glenwood area.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.