Baltimore County Digest


April 04, 2007

Unions instructed to get `fact finder' in dispute

A judge instructed representatives from two unions and the Baltimore County government yesterday to find an independent authority to help resolve an impasse in labor negotiations, lawyers from both sides said.

County Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels gave the instructions in a meeting after the unions sought an order to delay the county's budget process until labor deals are reached, the lawyers said. The judge did not grant the order but told both sides to attempt to retain a "fact finder," who would hear arguments from each side on the contracts and then issue a nonbinding opinion, the lawyers said.

"That was what we wanted, for the fact-finding process to go on," said Terence Cooper, a spokesman for the county chapters of the Federation of Public Employees and the Federation of Public Health Nurses. "This is a victory for us."

County officials have said that the deadline to use a fact-finder passed and that, under county law, labor deals need to be signed by tomorrow for County Executive James T. Smith Jr. to be able to submit his budget to the County Council on April 16. County lawyers said yesterday they would work with the union to try find a fact-finder, with a possible hearing by Friday and a fact-finder's opinion by Monday. "The point from our perspective is the judge has not made any decision. He has not ruled one way or the other" on whether to order a delay in the budget process, said Paul Mayhew, an assistant county attorney. "All he's done is ask us to go see if something is possible, and that's what we're trying to do."

At issue in the negotiations is the administration's proposal to force current employees with less than 30 years' service to work until age 65, rather than 60, to receive full retirement benefits. Leaders of the two unions, representing a combined 1,800 county employees, say the proposal would unfairly change retirement benefits in the middle of employees' careers.

County officials say the change is needed to head off a potential financial crisis as more employees retire.

Josh Mitchell


An alert on credit card scheme

Baltimore County police yesterday warned small-business owners and their employees to guard against credit card fraud, pointing to reports of callers claiming to represent the police or a credit card company.

One caller said he was from a credit card company and asked for card numbers, saying the company's machine was off-line, police said. In two other instances, a caller claimed to be a detective from the Reisterstown Police Department who had two people in custody for credit card fraud and asked for credit card receipts.

Neither police nor credit card companies call to ask for credit card numbers, county police said. Anyone who believes they might be a victim of this form of fraud should call 410-887-2190.


2 magnet schools honored

Two Baltimore County public schools will be recognized during the 2007 Magnet Schools of America 25th national conference scheduled April 29 through May 3 in Las Vegas.

Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology is one of 41 schools nationwide that will receive the group's 2007 Magnet School of Excellence Award. Lutherville Laboratory, a magnet school that specializes in science, mathematics and communications, is one of 59 schools nationwide that will receive the 2007 Magnet School of Distinction.

Two county students also will be honored for their winning work as part of the organization's national poster contest. Dontae M. Johnson, a seventh-grade student in Lansdowne Middle School's Center for Career and Professional Studies, won first place in the middle school division. Jody Oliver, a senior in Chesapeake High School's Academy for Business, Leadership, Arts and Communication, and Science and Engineering, took second place in the high school division.

Representatives from their schools are expected to receive plaques and cash awards for the students during the conference. The school system plans to use the winning poster designs in its magnet program brochures.

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