No. 2 official of EPA submits her resignation
The second-ranking official at the Environmental Protection Agency submitted her resignation yesterday, a day before Administrator Christine Todd Whitman leaves her job to return to New Jersey.
Linda Fisher, the deputy administrator, had been seen as a possible successor to Whitman, who took over the agency after serving as New Jersey governor. Fisher told President Bush in her resignation letter that she plans to step down July 11.
Her decision further narrows the list of candidates to head EPA. Other names frequently circulated include GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Tom Skinner, an EPA regional administrator for the Midwest region whose father, Samuel K. Skinner, was White House chief of staff for Bush's father.
Groups kick off drive to save AmeriCorps
More than a dozen community volunteer groups began a campaign yesterday to bail out AmeriCorps by putting a human face on the service organization's accounting and budgeting problems. They took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, signed by 200 business leaders who asked Washington for $200 million in emergency funding for AmeriCorps.
The groups offered emotional testimony from young people who feared they won't get the chance to serve as AmeriCorps volunteers. The agency that runs the national service organization announced deep cuts last week that could spell the end of hundreds of community programs nationwide.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, suffers accounting troubles stemming from a dispute between two federal offices over how much money should be placed in an education trust.
In The Nation
University president retained despite mob kin
BOSTON - The University of Massachusetts trustees decided yesterday to keep William Bulger as president despite an uproar over his relationship with his mobster brother.
Bulger had not broken any laws, and the board chose to keep him because of his distinguished record as the university's president, said Board of Trustees chairwoman Grace Fey after the six-hour meeting to discuss Bulger's future.
"In fact, the evidence is that the quality of our students, our fund-raising and research funding have all increased dramatically in recent years," she said. The board took no formal vote, and trustees declined to say publicly how many had dissented from the decision.
Residents decry lack of derailment warning
COMMERCE, Calif. - Railroad dispatchers didn't warn communities along the tracks before deciding to sidetrack runaway freight cars that barreled into a neighborhood east of Los Angeles, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator said.
Angry residents said the toll in Friday's 29-car derailment, in which 13 people were treated for injuries, could have been much worse. Commerce city administrator Thomas Sykes said "a few minutes' notice" would have been enough for the city to warn residents. "We have an automated calling system for things just like this. But if they don't give us a call, it's no good."
The freight cars were clocked at 86 mph before Union Pacific dispatchers decided to send them onto a 15 mph-rated siding to prevent them from colliding with other trains.
Texas ex-official must remain in jail, judge says
AUSTIN, Texas - Former Texas Attorney General Dan Morales was ordered to remain in jail while awaiting trial on fraud charges after a judge determined yesterday that he might have lied on two recent car loan applications.
Morales spent Wednesday night in the Travis County Jail after prosecutors said he gave conflicting information on the car applications and sworn financial statements when he asked the court to appoint a public defender. He had previously been free on a personal recognizance bond.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Blankinship said that because of heavy credit card, mortgage and car loan debt, Morales was a risk to either flee or commit financial fraud to cover his debts. Morales, 47, did not speak during the hearing.
DNA evidence cited in Ohio clemency
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Bob Taft granted clemency yesterday for the first time, sparing a man who used a new state law allowing DNA testing in death row cases to prove that blood found on his tennis shoes was his own. Jerome Campbell, whose execution had been scheduled for today, is the first condemned inmate in Ohio to receive clemency in 12 years.
The governor changed the death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying jurors might have recommended a different sentence if the new DNA evidence had been available and they had been told that two jailhouse informants had sought leniency in exchange for their testimony.
He added that his conclusion "does not diminish in any way Mr. Campbell's responsibility for a brutal and senseless murder or the compassion I feel for Henry Turner and his family." Campbell, now 42, was convicted of aggravated murder for stabbing John Henry Turner, 78, at Turner's Cincinnati apartment in 1988.