Digest

January 31, 2008

Speed-camera bill given nod by Howard Co. legislators

Howard County's state legislators overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday that would authorize the use of speed cameras by county police, with a few amendments.

If adopted by the full General Assembly, the Howard law would allow the issuance of automated $75 tickets to anyone going more than 10 miles over the posted limit on county roads posted for 45 mph or less. A statewide speed-camera bill that would also cover work zones on interstate highways is under consideration this year, with backing from Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The Howard bill, sponsored by state Sen. James N. Robey and supported by county police, was amended to require a 90-day warning period once the law takes effect, and the law would expire after five years unless it is reauthorized by the General Assembly. Two delegates, Republicans Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller, were the only opponents among 11 Howard legislators.

Larry Carson

Howard County

: Columbia

Foul play suspected in disappearance

Foul play is suspected in the disappearance of a Columbia woman who was last seen more than a week ago, Howard County police said yesterday.

Elda Vazquez, 28, was reported missing by a friend Tuesday, police said. She was last seen about 10:30 p.m. Jan. 22 leaving an Ellicott City restaurant and getting into a taxi. Police believe that a driver dropped Vazquez off in the 8700 block of Tamar Drive. Her roommate said that Vazquez did not come home that night, and her friends and family said they have not heard from her since she disappeared.

Anyone with information, call police at 410-313-3200.

Tyeesha Dixon

Madison Park

Carroll County

: Eldersburg

Search under way for missing boy, 13

An extensive search was under way last night for a 13-year-old Carroll County boy last seen tossing his book bag onto his front yard after getting off a school bus yesterday afternoon and running away, state police at the Westminster barracks said.

Police said the youth, a resident of Lakeview Drive in Eldersburg whom they declined to identify other than his first name, Brendan, was wearing a blue-and-gray coat, blue pants, a maroon shirt and tennis shoes.

Police said that after the boy's parents reported him missing about 4 p.m., several state troopers, Carroll County sheriff's deputies, Baltimore County police, three police helicopters, Natural Resources Police, a statewide search-and-rescue team and canine units began a search of the nearby Liberty Reservoir and numerous roads and highways adjacent to the water. The cold weather caused additional concern.

Anyone finding the boy or who has knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to call the barracks at 410-386-3000.

Richard Irwin

Baltimore

: Contract

Judge rejects protest of bid award by city

A city Circuit Court judge has dismissed a request for a temporary restraining order by an attorney challenging the validity of the city's minority business participation ordinance.

Attorney Otho Thompson, city solicitor from 1996 to 1999, is protesting a bid award by the Board of Estimates for a major sewer system project in North Baltimore. He has argued that the ordinance that guarantees a percentage of public contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses is invalid.

Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch dismissed Thompson's request for a restraining order Tuesday, said City Solicitor George A. Nilson. That means the city can award the $40.4 million contract to Carp Seca Corp. while waiting for hearings on the merits of the case, Nilson said.

Nilson said Bradshaw Construction Corp., which was representing before the Board of Estimates, did not meet the standards of the minority business program because Bradshaw, among other things, was using a business owned by a black woman to meet standards of participation for both women and racial minorities, which the city ordinance forbids.

A preliminary injunction hearing regarding the bid award could be held Feb. 12 or 14 in Circuit Court, Nilson said.

Lynn Anderson

Personnel

Bainum leaving housing department

Michael Bainum, who was hired to oversee Baltimore's program to obtain 5,000 vacant properties, is leaving the Department of Housing and Community Development for the private sector.

Bainum was hired by Mayor Martin O'Malley to oversee the Project 5000 program, in which the city acquired thousands of vacant properties in an effort to get them redeveloped. More recently, he helped devise a "land bank" that is being proposed by city officials to expedite that redevelopment.

Bainum, 44, assistant commissioner of land resources, will leave the department tomorrow. He will take a job with Enterprise Homes Inc., a subsidiary of Columbia-based Enterprise Community Investment.

John Fritze

Northeast

Man, 51, is indicted on 2 counts of theft

The owner of an assisted-living center in Northeast Baltimore was indicted yesterday on charges of stealing money from a resident of the center.

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