City / County Digest


July 15, 2008

BTU leader gets national post with AFT

Loretta Johnson, the longtime co-president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, has been elected executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, making her the No. 3 official in the nation's second-largest teachers union.

For the time being, Johnson will remain in the post she has held since the 1970s, overseeing the BTU's paraprofessionals chapter, representing teacher's aides and other educational assistants.

She began working as a teacher's aide in the city in the 1966, earning $2.25 an hour with no benefits, according to a biography provided by the AFT. To improve her work situation and that of her colleagues, she unionized the city's paraprofessionals and negotiated their first contract in 1970.

In the AFT election, Johnson ran unopposed on a slate with Randi Weingarten, the outgoing president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, who will serve as the AFT's new president.

The outgoing president, Edward McElroy, is retiring. AFT's outgoing executive vice president, Antonia Cortese, was elected secretary-treasurer on the Weingarten slate. Johnson is also president of AFT-Maryland.


Police Department

McLarney to head homicide unit

The Baltimore Police Department announced yesterday that Terrence P. McLarney, a widely respected 32-year veteran, will be promoted to be the new commander of the city's homicide unit.

McLarney has held the position in an acting capacity since May when Maj. Frederick Herman Taber Jr retired.

McLarney is popular with the detectives because of his intellect, his vast experience investigating murders and his even temper. He has worked in the unit for 19 years, holding the rank of detective, sergeant and most recently lieutenant. His squad was profiled in Homicide, a book by former Sun reporter David Simon.

McLarney said he expects to make no significant changes in the 75-member unit. "There is no secret to all of this," McLarney said. "It always comes back to hard, standard, basic investigative methodology. I believe in pounding the pavement, talking to people. And it all comes down to crime scenes, physical evidence and witnesses."

Detectives assigned to the homicide unit are considered the department's best investigators. In addition to killings - Baltimore has one of the highest murder rates in the nation - they investigate police-involved shootings, extortions, kidnappings and politically sensitive cases.

McLarney holds a bachelors degree from American University and a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives with his wife in Columbia. They have a grown son.

Annie Linskey


Robot heart surgery expert joins UM

A world expert in minimally invasive heart bypass surgery has joined the surgery department at the University of Maryland.

Johannes Bonatti has moved to Baltimore from Innsbruck University Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was a cardiac surgeon and an associate professor of surgery. He takes his new position today.

Bonatti has performed more than 300 heart surgeries using the DaVinci robot. Most were performed in a completely endoscopic way - without even a small incision.

Only a few heart surgeons around the world have experience in performing a completely endoscopic heart bypass operation.

David Kohn

Howard County

Interstate 95

Motorcyclist killed in accident identified

A man killed Sunday in a motorcycle accident on the ramp from southbound Interstate 895 to southbound Interstate 95 in Howard County was identified yesterday as Krisna Harlowe Seegobin, 29, of Silver Spring, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Authorities said they are searching for witnesses to the crash, which occurred about 3:30 p.m. Police said Seegobin apparently lost control of the Suzuki sport bike on the ramp. No other vehicles were involved. Witnesses are urged to call MdTA police at 410-324-8894.



Anti-slots groups reject gaming money

Groups fighting the legalization of slot machines in Maryland said yesterday that they don't intend to take money from gambling interests and that both sides need to reject such contributions to have a fair debate.

Two longtime slots opponents, StopSlots Maryland and NO Casino Maryland, said yesterday that they would reject contributions from gambling companies. A similar pledge was made by Marylanders United to Stop Slots, a group launched in April that counts Comptroller Peter Franchot and other prominent elected officials as its chief backers.

Penn National Gaming Inc., a national casino operator, recently secured an option to buy Cecil County land where it could operate a slots venue and has vowed to help push for slots at the polls.

Laura Smitherman

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