Around The Region

AROUND THE REGION

September 11, 2008

Mediators advise 2% raise for Baltimore Co. teachers

Baltimore County teachers should be given a 2 percent cost-of-living increase at the end of the school year, according to a mediation panel report released yesterday. Such a raise could be implemented in the last pay month of the 2009 fiscal year, if there is adequate funding, according to the report. The panel was formed after the county teachers union reached an impasse in negotiations, said Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. School and county officials had said budget constraints did not allow for providing teachers with more than step increases, which about 20 to 30 percent of them would not receive, Bost said. Schools spokeswoman Kara E.B. Calder said the district entered the 2009 budget year not having enough funds for a cost-of-living increase - and still does not have them. "We're focusing on the 2010 budget process now," Calder said, with hopes of examining ways to address salaries. Bost said she plans to present the matter to the school board, which she hopes will adopt the nonbinding decision.

Arin Gencer

Experts on HIV/AIDS are meeting in Baltimore

Experts on HIV/AIDS from around the world will meet in Baltimore today for a three-day conference exploring the latest developments in the fight against the virus and its consequences. More than 300 researchers, care providers and pharmaceutical representatives are expected to attend the 11th annual Institute of Human Virology International Meeting at the Harborplace Renaissance Hotel to discuss recent discoveries in the progression of HIV and related cancers and the development of new drugs to prevent, suppress and treat the disease. The gathering is hosted by Dr. Robert C. Gallo, co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS and director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The lectures are closed to the press and public.

Federal panel's report on air safety is out

U.S. aviation regulators should audit airlines' voluntary disclosures of safety failures to prevent abuses of the program, said a federal panel formed after questions were raised about oversight of the carriers. The panel made 13 recommendations to try to prevent repeats of Southwest Airlines Co.'s failure to inspect 46 planes and American Airlines groundings that stranded 360,000 passengers."We cannot afford any sense of complacency," Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said of the panel's report yesterday in Arlington, Va. She said all the recommendations will be implemented. U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, called the recommendations "excellent," and said he hoped they are implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. "The agency under the Bush administration has a history that causes us to be wary of its willingness to make public safety its top priority," said Cummings, a member of the transportation committee. Southwest, the largest carrier at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, may have to pay a record $10.2 million fine for operating the Boeing Co. 737s on 59,791 flights in 2006 and 2007 without full examinations for fuselage cracks. The carrier disclosed the failure to the FAA. The agency's actions in that case caused some members of Congress to question whether the FAA is too close to the industry.

From Sun News Services

Business groups endorse Harris for Congress

Republican congressional candidate Andy Harris announced endorsements yesterday from the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Harris, a state senator and anesthesiologist, said he was committed to lower taxes and reduced government spending, positions attractive to small-business owners. Harris defeated incumbent Rep. Wayne T. Gilchest in a primary, and faces Democrat Frank m. Kratovil Jr., a prosecutor from Queen Anne's County, in the November election.

David Nitkin

Another 300 eligible for Kaiser health plan

More low-income Baltimore County working adults will be able to sign up for reduced-rate comprehensive health care coverage, the county Health Department said yesterday. Coverage will be made available to 300 more people, said the department, which has 413 clients enrolled in the Kaiser Foundation Health Bridge Plan. The program assists people who cannot afford health coverage because of a change in job status or income, and it offers coverage for up to two years to those who meet eligibility requirements. Enrollment will take place this month and next. Those interested in obtaining coverage may call the Health Department at 410-887-8629, or go to www.baltimorecountymd.gov/go/health.

Smart buoy at bay, river to transmit real-time data

Real-time high-tech comes to the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River on Saturday when the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration anchors a smart buoy that will be visible from the Harford and Cecil shores of the river. The buoy, one of six that mark the Captain John Smith National Historic Water Trail, is equipped with sensors that can transmit real-time data, including wind speed, wave height and air temperature. It also will provide scientists information on the nitrate levels flowing into the bay and give visitors a bit of 17th-century history. Boaters and those on shore can access the data at buoybay.org or 877-buoy-bay. The anchoring ceremony is to begin at 10:30 a.m. at Concord Point in Havre de Grace with a reception to follow at the city's Maritime Museum.

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