August 10, 2007

Calls are continuing for probe of death

State and local NAACP officials vowed at a rally yesterday to continue pressing for an independent state investigation into how a Carroll County prosecutor has dealt with a Baltimore youth's death at a privately run residential program for juvenile offenders.

The family of Isaiah Simmons, 17, has complained that the six counselors who pinned the youth the ground in January for more than three hours before he passed out and died should be charged with manslaughter, a felony, rather than reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People representatives and members of Simmons' family were among about 40 people -- many wearing blue shirts with a photo and the words "Justice for Isaiah" -- who attended the rally in East Baltimore, near the family's residence.

Elbridge James, legislative director of the Maryland NAACP , said the misdemeanor charges are an insult to the family and to the community. "This is our child, and our child did not need to be killed," he said. "We will not quit until justice is met. There will be no peace until there is justice."

Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham, Sr., president of the NAACP's Baltimore chapter, said the misdemeanor charges are "deplorable" and seem to suggest "an African-American life is not important."

Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes has denied that race played a factor in charging decisions. He said prosecutors impartially presented facts and evidence to a grand jury, and that it chose to charge the counselors with reckless endangerment rather than manslaughter.

Cheatham said the NAACP, ministers and community activists who have rallied to support the Simmons family plan to make their presence known in Carroll County at the trials of the counselors, now scheduled for October.

"We don't want this to happen again," he said.

Greg Garland


: Energy initiatives

Plan aims for less consumption

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced several initiatives yesterday to reduce energy consumption, including a plan to distribute 100,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs to low-income families.

Last month, O'Malley set a goal of reducing Maryland energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015, and he said yesterday that the four new programs would be a first step in helping achieve that goal.

O'Malley announced a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to make homes built through the state's affordable-housing program more efficient; a pilot program in Montgomery and Prince George's counties to train contractors to evaluate energy efficiency of homes; and distribution of low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs to participants in a program that helps low-income families pay their electric bills.

"If each Maryland resident changed just one light bulb to a compact fluorescent light, we would reduce electric bills throughout the state by almost $20 million per year," O'Malley said.

Andrew A. Green

Prison system

Pubic safety deputy to leave post

One of the two top deputies at the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is leaving to take a position in Louisiana, officials said yesterday.

Mary Livers, deputy secretary of operations and chief of staff, is to become deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Youth Development.

Livers was hired during the administration of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Gary D. Maynard, Gov. Martin O'Malley's public safety secretary, had kept her on over the objections of unions representing correctional workers.

Maynard said the move to Louisiana will allow Livers to live close to her family. He said she was instrumental in helping forge a new culture in the department.

The department, which runs 26 prisons, has a $1 billion budget and 12,000 employees.

Greg Garland

Montgomery Co.

: Rockville

Delegate Goldwater to retire

Del. Marilyn R. Goldwater, a veteran Democrat from Montgomery County who specialized in health care issues, announced yesterday that she will retire from the General Assembly.

The Rockville resident has served 23 years in the legislature in two stints, dating to 1975. She said in a news release that of the dozens of bills she sponsored to improve health care, one of her proudest accomplishments was the establishment of the state's Wellmobile, a mobile health clinic.

Goldwater, 80, a registered nurse, has been battling cancer for several years and missed much of this year's General Assembly session because of illness."This is an extremely difficult, emotional decision for me to make, but one that I know is the right one for me, my family, my colleagues and my constituents," Goldwater said.

Andrew A. Green

Western Maryland

: Deep Creek Lake

UM professor seeks fish eaters

If you eat fish from Deep Creek Lake four times a month, a professor at the University of Maryland's Appalachian Laboratory would like to hear from you.

Mark Castro is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to find out how much of the mercury in the fish is accumulating in the humans who eat those fish. CDC researchers will be at the Deep Creek Lake Fire Hall to take blood samples and interview participants Sept. 17-21.


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