Md. delegation backs BRAC economics

STATE DIGEST

October 11, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Maryland's congressional delegation defended yesterday the process that will move thousands of military jobs to the state as cost-effective and good for the country, after criticism from other states that spawned an oversight hearing.

The federal base realignment and closure plan will ultimately save the military millions of dollars, eliminating duplication of services, improving national defense and improving efficiency, said Heather Moeder Molino, deputy chief of staff for Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat.

"The Department of Defense really thought this through, and meddling in the [base realignment] process really undermines it," Molino said. "We've always cut costs in the end, and we've always improved military services with BRAC."

The comments came as the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee plans for an expected early-November hearing on cost escalations in the base realignment process, which have been used as a rallying cry in states that stand to lose jobs if it is implemented.

The hearing was called by Rep. Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, a Texas Democrat who heads the readiness subcommittee, said Loren Dealy, committee spokeswoman.

The criticism became public after Skelton sent letters to the New Jersey congressional delegation, which has used escalating expenses as a rallying cry for why Fort Monmouth in that state shouldn't be closed.

"I share your concerns about apparent cost escalations and reduction in savings that are being reported by the Department of Defense," Skelton wrote. "Equally disturbing is the apparent disruption in the civilian work force and the mission degradation that occurs as realignments are implemented."

An investigation by the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey has found that the cost of closing the fort and transferring many of its jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County has increased from $780 million to $1.5 billion, giving BRAC opponents there ammunition.

Spokeswomen for Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat, and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Baltimore Democrat, said they are confident the hearing won't change anything.

"At the end of the day, it's going to make sense for these facilities to be at Aberdeen," said Stephanie Lundgren, a Hoyer spokeswoman.

Capital News Service

Cecil County

: Elkton

Man finds sleeping intruder

Police say an Elkton man returned to his apartment last week to find an intruder napping in his bed. The man, Mark William of North East, didn't wake up until police placed handcuffs on him while he was sleeping.

Police say the victim came home at 8 a.m. Oct. 2 to find William asleep in his bed. He called police.

Authorities say William, who goes by the nickname "Weasel," jammed a chair at the back entrance of the apartment before bedding down. He was charged with burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property. William also faces drug charges after police found a small package of suspected crack cocaine in his pocket.

He's being held in the Cecil County jail on $15,000 bond.

Associated Press

Wounding nets 6-month term

An Elkton man who fired several shotgun blasts in the air, inadvertently injuring an 11-year-old boy, has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Wilbur Whalen pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for the 2006 accident, when a boy received minor injuries after Whalen fired shotgun blasts in the air. The boy suffered a superficial wound to his neck.

Whalen's lawyer argued that Whalen was "drug-crazed" at the time and did not mean to hurt anyone.

Circuit Judge J. Owen Wise said he could not send the message that it was OK to hurt a little boy as long as the person was on drugs. Whalen was sentenced Tuesday to four years in jail, with all but six months suspended.

Associated Press

Talbot County

: Easton

Two guns found on school lawn

Parents at an Eastern Shore elementary school are being assured that the school is safe after two guns were found on the Easton Elementary School lawn.

Officials found the handguns Tuesday morning as students came to school. One revolver was found at the school's driveway entrance.

Police say the guns were likely tossed onto the property during a car chase Monday night. They say damage to the guns is consistent with being thrown from a moving car.

On Monday night, Roy Rucker of Severn was arrested on drunken-driving charges after leading police on a chase in the area.

Principal James Redman sent a letter home to parents Tuesday afternoon explaining how the school initiated an emergency response and police officers searched the area.

Associated Press

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