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CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore Region

July 21, 2005

BALTIMORE

Group wants hotel to hire primarily city residents

An employment advocate for low-income Baltimoreans wants a promise that city dwellers will get most of the jobs at a planned convention center hotel and that those workers will get opportunities to better themselves.

The Job Opportunities Task Force sent a letter this week to the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency, suggesting that Baltimore's contract with Hilton include provisions that would benefit local job-seekers.

The City Council is considering the BDC's plan to use $305 million in city revenue bonds to build a 752-room Hilton next to the downtown convention center.

Jason Perkins-Cohen, JOTF's executive director, said he sees a chance in the debate over the publicly financed project to further his organization's mission of helping people get work.

"The hotel is certainly something we are watching," Perkins-Cohen said. "We saw it as an opportunity for us to voice our opinion on a very public deal."

In addition to asking for a requirement that 85 percent of the hotel workers be city residents, JOTF also wants the city to commit to workplace adult education programs, worker training for career advancement and on-site child care.

BDC officials have said they will consider incorporating such initiatives into the hotel deal.

- Jill Rosen

ANNE ARUNDEL

Prosecutors rest case against teen in fatal shooting

Prosecutors rested their murder case yesterday against a Severn teenager accused of randomly killing a Glen Burnie youth last summer and shooting into another vehicle - just so that he could kill someone with a shotgun that had been stolen the day before.

Questioned by police, Anthony "Little Ant" Deyonko Switzer, now 17, admitted firing randomly into a passing vehicle the night of Aug. 20, but he said he did not know the blast struck and killed motorist Doray Delonte Jones, 18, according to the statement he gave an Anne Arundel County police detective in the case.

"If we would have known that we shot someone, we would have gone home," Detective Richard Alban recounted from Switzer's statement yesterday. Instead, Switzer, with friends, looked for other victims, according to testimony this week from two of his friends and from Alban.

The youths' remarks that Switzer "wanted to catch a body" with the freshly stolen weapon elicited occasional gasps from Jones' family. Both of the teenagers have immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony in the nonjury trial before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michael E. Loney. Switzer is charged with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The trial will resume today with the start of the defense's case.

The prosecution witnesses detailed a chilling scenario that began when the teens burglarized a home Aug. 19, taking two guns. They then bought ammunition at Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills.

Defense lawyer David Schertler hammered at the youths in cross-examination, especially Marshall Hall, who admitted lying to police early in his interrogation and said he knew there were weapons in the burglarized home.

After firing into Jones' vehicle, according to testimony, Switzer fired at another car, missing twin 9-year-old girls, their mother and grandmother but striking the vehicle.

- Andrea F. Siegel

BALTIMORE

Six schools designated as `dangerous' by state

The state school board yesterday voted to designate six Baltimore middle schools as "persistently dangerous," the only schools in Maryland to receive the designation.

They are Calverton, Canton, Harlem Park, Highlandtown, Lombard and Thurgood Marshall middle schools. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school system must give parents at those schools the option of transferring their children to safer ones.

A school earns the label if, for three consecutive years, 2.5 percent or more of the student body is suspended for specific offenses such as arson, weapons or drug possession and assault. School officials had contended that Harlem Park and Lombard middle schools should not be labeled "persistently dangerous" because their suspension rates were 2.45 and 2.49, respectively.

The state board also voted to place nine more schools on a probationary list. These schools have had suspension rates of 2.5 or higher for two consecutive years and will be designated persistently dangerous if their suspension rates do not fall below 2.5 percent in the coming academic year.

The schools are Dr. Roland N. Patterson Sr. Academy, Dr. Samuel L. Banks High, Garrison Middle, Pimlico Middle, Northeast Middle, the former Walbrook High (now divided into three small academies), W.E.B. Dubois High, Thurgood Marshall High and Southeast Middle.

- Sara Neufeld

ANNE ARUNDEL

Funeral procession for cadet might cause delays today

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