City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

November 21, 2006

Baltimore: Council

Clarke seeks halt to school closings

Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke introduced a resolution last night asking the state to allow the city school system to stop closing schools.

With room for 125,000 students but just 85,000 students enrolled, the city school board voted last year to reduce its operating space by 15 percent over three years. It closed three school buildings over the summer, and more closings are scheduled in 2007 and 2008.

The state had threatened to cut off funding for school construction and renovation projects if the system didn't start operating more efficiently. But now that Mayor Martin O'Malley has been elected governor, Clarke is hoping that officials will reconsider.

Clarke says the closings are overcrowding schools and impeding their ability to offer community services on site. She also says it was an inefficient use of resources for the school system to spend more than $30 million this summer to renovate the schools receiving displaced students.

Clarke asked the council to suspend its normal procedures to vote on her resolution last night, but she did not garner enough votes to do so. The resolution now moves to a council committee for further consideration.

Raquel Guillory, a spokesman for O'Malley, said the mayor has not taken a position on whether the school closures should proceed. She said he would review Clarke's resolution.

Sara Neufeld and Matthew Dolan

Federal Court

Elkton man admits receiving child porn

A 48-year-old Cecil County man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to receiving child pornography. On March 28 last year, law enforcement officers said they had searched the Elkton home of Ernie Preston Hancock and recovered a computer hard drive that contained 131 images of child pornography. Hancock faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, up to a maximum of 20 years. He could be fined up to $250,000 fine and placed on supervised release. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg scheduled Hancock's sentencing for Feb. 9.

Matthew Dolan

Montgomery: Federal Court

Man pleads guilty to illegal gambling

A 61-year-old Montgomery County man admitted yesterday in federal court in Greenbelt that he was involved in an illegal sports betting business run by his family members and which made collections in the Baltimore area. Herbert David Meyers, 61, of Potomac pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, initially known as Sports International 2000 and which later became part of World Wide Wagering Inc. According to his plea agreement, Meyers and others solicited prospective bettors from Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere to place wagers on professional and college football and basketball games and other sporting events from 2001 until 2004. The maximum penalty for the most serious charge - money laundering - is 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow scheduled Meyer's sentencing for March 5.

Matthew Dolan

Baltimore: Forum

Affordable housing session is tonight

The Black/Jewish Forum of Baltimore is holding an affordable-housing forum tonight. The forum, which is open to the public, will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Diocese Center at North Charles Street and University Parkway. Speakers will include Michael Sarbanes, executive director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, and Jody Landers, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Board of Real Estate.

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