August 02, 2007

State sells bonds to build new schools

Maryland sold $375 million in general obligation bonds yesterday, obtaining funding to build schools and other capital projects.

Despite maintaining its AAA bond rating, the state will pay a higher interest rate than it did in a similar bond sale five months ago. Yesterday, the state secured a rate of 4.14 percent, compared with 3.86 percent in March. Yesterday's rate is about the same as the state paid a year ago.

Nancy K. Kopp, the state treasurer, said the level of competition among financial services companies bidding for the bonds reflects Maryland's overall strong fiscal situation, despite a looming deficit in the state's general fund.

Kopp, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Gov. Martin O'Malley - the three members of the state Board of Public Works, which approved the bond sale - had a dollar riding on who could guess the rate. Franchot bet on 3.5 percent, and O'Malley picked 3.7 percent. Kopp won with a guess of 4 percent.

"That's why she's treasurer," O'Malley said.

Andrew A. Green


: Annapolis

Correcting faulty accounting

The Maryland treasurer's office has largely corrected the faulty accounting procedures that forced the state to write off $37 million two years ago when it could not reconcile its bank records, auditors reported yesterday.

Still, the treasurer's office needs to do more to reconcile deposits and withdrawals from state bank accounts more quickly and to ensure better supervision over state investments, the Office of Legislative Audits found.

In her response to the auditors, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a former Democratic delegate from Montgomery County, said her office had implemented several new procedures to address the deficiencies the auditors found.

Andrew A. Green

Frederick County

: Frederick

Washington air space violation

A pilot flying a Cessna 172 cross country accidentally flew into restricted air space over Washington and was forced to land at Frederick Municipal Airport yesterday, airport officials said.

When the North American Aerospace Defense Command noticed the small plane enter the north end of the Air Defense Identification Zone about 12:30 p.m., according to NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek, two F-16 fighter planes were launched. The two jets forced the landing.

Frederick Municipal Airport manager Charles Abell said the pilot, who was not identified, rented the plane in Leesburg, Va., and is a flight school student. The solo cross-country flight would have counted toward the pilot's license requirements. The hazy day probably got the pilot lost and disoriented before his flight path took him into the restricted area, he said. "It was an honest mistake," Abell said.

Associated Press

Teen convicted in robberies

A 17-year-old girl has been convicted of masterminding a teenage armed robbery spree that targeted three fast-food restaurants in Frederick.

Judge Julie Stevenson Solt found Frederick High School student Tia J. Moore guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and one count of attempted armed robbery. Moore pleaded not guilty to the charges but agreed to a statement of facts presented by Assistant State's Attorney Teresa R. Bean. Solt set sentencing for Oct. 2.

Moore is among five people charged in a string of crimes Jan. 18 that included an attempted armed robbery at a Wendy's drive-through and holdups of Domino's and Baskin-Robbins workers. Four of the defendants - Moore and three male classmates - were juveniles at the time; the fifth was a 20-year-old man.

Bean said the teens planned the robberies while at school. She said Moore was one of two juveniles who pointed guns at a drive-through clerk at Wendy's while a third teen ordered a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. Moore also conspired to rob a pizza delivery man who responded to a bogus call, and two boys working at the ice cream store, Bean said.

Defense attorney William Poffenbarger said the weapon Moore used at the attempted holdup at Wendy's was a BB gun. The weapon was not recovered. Solt said the type of handgun would not affect her ruling. Bean said she will ask the judge to sentence Moore to prison.

Associated Press

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