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News from around the Baltimore region

June 24, 2005

BALTIMORE

Court rejects attempt to void council election

Maryland's highest court rejected yesterday a failed City Council candidate's attempt to void the election last year of Baltimore City Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch.

The majority of the Court of Appeals ruled that Green Party candidate Glenn L. Ross could have properly challenged the legitimacy of Branch's candidacy if he had done so before the Nov. 2 election, not after Branch won. His challenge, the court's opinion states, "was ripe prior to Election Day."

Ross argued that Branch should not have been allowed to run because she had not filed campaign finance reports. Ross garnered 1,188 votes to Branch's 7,780.

At the time of the Nov. 2 election, Branch had failed to file reports due as far back as August 2003 and owed $1,250 in late fees, according to state records. The Democrat filed the reports and paid the fees by Dec. 2.

Maryland election law prohibits a person from running for or assuming public office if he or she has "failed to file a campaign finance report that is due from, or on behalf of, that individual."

"I'm relieved," Branch said yesterday. She blamed her campaign treasurer for the late filings.

- Doug Donovan

BALTIMORE

3 plead guilty to stabbing witness in 2004 assault case

Three people pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court for their roles in stabbing a witness to prevent him from testifying in another case.

Takosha Marsh, 18, and Toni Eberhardt, 17, both of the 800 block of Bradhurst Road, and Timothy Sutton, 19, of the 1000 block of Cameron Road, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

They are accused of stabbing Daniel Ngorongo in April last year at his residence in the 5500 block of York Road. Ngorongo was attacked to keep him from testifying in an assault case pending against Marsh's boyfriend, prosecutors said.

Circuit Judge Joseph McCurdy sentenced Marsh to four years in prison and five years of probation. McCurdy sentenced Eberhardt and Sutton to three years in prison and five years of probation.

-- Julie Bykowicz

BALTIMORE

Council to continue hearing on proposed convention hotel

The City Council will continue a public hearing Monday on the proposed convention center hotel, for people who didn't get a chance to testify Wednesday at a hearing that stretched more than eight hours.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. at City Hall. Afterward, the council will hold a work session to discuss the hotel.

City development and tourism officials are proposing that $305 million in city revenue bonds be used to build a hotel next to the convention center. The city would develop and own the facility.

Council President Sheila Dixon's office announced yesterday that the hearing would resume to gather comments from city staffers and members of the public who didn't get to speak Wednesday.

Dozens of people signed up to speak at Wednesday's hearing, which began at 1 p.m. and continued well into the night. But many left before the floor was opened for public comments.

-- Jill Rosen

BALTIMORE

Section of Pratt Street to close for museum opening

Baltimore transportation officials will close Pratt Street to through traffic from President Street to Albemarle Street this weekend for the opening of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

During the closing -- from 7 p.m. tonight to 2 a.m. Monday -- Pratt Street traffic will be directed south on President Street, east on Fleet Street, north on Central Avenue, then back onto Pratt Street.

The curb lane of northbound President Street from Fawn Street to Lombard Street also will be closed to traffic over the weekend, officials said.

ANNE ARUNDEL

Local, federal officials to discuss hate crimes

In the wake of several suspected hate crimes in Anne Arundel County, community leaders and law enforcement officials have been invited to meet with U.S. Justice Department officials next week to discuss ways to respond.

About 20 people are expected to attend, said Carl O. Snowden, a leader in the black community and an aide to County Executive Janet S. Owens.

A Justice Department official will talk about what constitutes a hate crime, what responses are appropriate and related concerns during the Tuesday afternoon meeting. Local officials also will look into holding town hall-style meetings.

In recent weeks, residents in several areas of the county have awakened to see white supremacist literature on their lawns. A black Ferndale woman found a wooden cross on her sidewalk with several racial epithets on it. In Hanover, a man was charged with writing a racial epithet on a woman's car.

"We are looking forward to a candid discussion," said Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the county state's attorney's office, where the meeting will be held.

-- Andrea F. Siegel

BALTIMORE

Police probe into death of businessman ends

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