Local Leads: 11/13/2008

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

SENATOR  BARBARA BOXER / FORMER AIDE ARRESTED
A high-level Senate aide was charged last week with sending and receiving child pornography, the Associated Press reports.
The wire service says Jeff Rosato, a former adviser to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., appeared in court yesterday. He was released pending trial. "On Friday, the Justice Department informed our office of criminal charges made against a Senate employee. Sen. Boxer has zero tolerance for crimes against children, and the employee was immediately terminated," spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz tells AP. "Our office is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice in this matter." (AP/USAToday)

FORECLOSURE REPORT
Foreclosure activity in October rose 25 percent from a year earlier, although filings in California fell by double-digit percentage points for the second consecutive month due to a state law slowing the foreclosure process, according to a monthly report by RealtyTrac. (Reuters / Washington Post)

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY SCHOOL CUTS
Prince George's County lawmakers are considering slashing the amount of money they will seek from the state for school construction by $49 million this year because of the current economic climate.  The cuts to the annual school board priority list, which the County Council plans to discuss today, include eliminating construction money for replacing Fairmont Heights and Oxon Hill High schools as well as money for a new auditorium and classrooms already under construction at Laurel High School. (Gazette)

INAUGURATION MORE SIDEWALK SPACE
Fewer bleachers will be set up this time, meaning more space for standing-room crowds. It has nothing to do with the record crowds expected for the Jan. 20 celebration, although it will allow more people to attend the parade for free.  The changes stem from a lawsuit filed by war protesters, who said they were unfairly swept aside during President Bush's parade. In 2005, so many bleachers were set up, for people who bought tickets, that space was extremely tight for those who wanted to stand curbside and watch for free. There will be 8,700 reserved bleacher seats this year, compared with 20,000 in 2005, officials said. (Washington Post)

VIRGINIA OFF-SHORE DRILLING
The Bush administration is moving ahead with efforts to lease the waters off Virginia's coast to companies interested in drilling for oil and natural gas, despite calls from environmentalists that the plan should wait for the new president to take office. (Washington Post)

METRO LOAN PAYMENT
A federal judge yesterday suggested a compromise to the Belgian bank seeking to collect $43 million from Metro that would give the bank some of the money without financially crippling the transit agency. The two sides were in talks last night and are scheduled to return to court today.  (Washington Post)

MARYLAND DEATH PENALTY
A high-profile panel appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley  recommended last night abolishing Maryland's death penalty, concluding that the state's system of capital punishment is too costly and vulnerable to wrongful convictions and fails as a deterrent to crime to be sustainable.   The 13 to 7 vote capped four months of testimony, statistics and debate as the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment considered an issue that has roiled passions in the state in recent years. (Washington Post)

MANASSAS HOUSE FIRE
Fire destroyed a large house off Yates Ford Road this morning, sending up plumes of white smoke that could be seen for miles.  Fire officials reported that the house at 10401 Lowery Court was “fully involved” in flames about 10:30 a.m. No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported. But fire crews were forced to battle the blaze from the exterior, unable to get inside for fear the house would collapse due to the intensity of the flames. At least five fire companies were called to the scene. The first arriving firefighters found flames raging on nearly every side of the house, Prince William fire and rescue spokesman Randy Earl said. A neighbor first called 911 to report the blaze. (Insidenova.com)

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR RESIGNS
At about 11:30 p.m., the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors accepted the resignation of County Administrator Randy Wheeler after a nearly nine-hour meeting that contained votes on several hot-button issues.  Supervisors met briefly in closed session and when they came out, Wheeler gave a brief speech. He touched on the successes of the county under his leadership, specifically mentioning the Spotsylvania Medical Center, which opens in 2010, the three new fire stations that recently opened, the economic development growth here, the library expansions, Patriot Park, and the citizen satisfaction surveys that show continuous increases in the grades residents gave for quality of life. (Free Lance Star)

FREDERICK, MARYLAND PARK DRINKING BAN END?
A two-year-old ban on alcohol consumption in Frederick County parks hasn't worked, so the Board of County Commissioners is considering ending the prohibition. The board will consider an ordinance next Tuesday that would create a $25 permit fee for groups wishing to serve alcohol in rented park shelters, indoor facilities or designated outdoor areas. The Parks and Recreation Commission says the ban implemented in January 2006 hasn't stopped people from drinking in the parks. But the commission says rental revenues have fallen, because some people don't want to hold events where they can't legally drink. (AP/ Baltimore Sun)

DUMFRIES 2020
In the year 2020, the town of Dumfries will be a pedestrian-friendly, accessible and diverse community that truly cares.  It will be "relaxing, restorative, beautiful and green-minded." It will have made a solid investment in its community, which will have created a small-town Main Street with fine restaurants, activities in its parks and the revitalization of its "old port."  That is the vision that the Dumfries Town Council wants to work toward over the next 12 years. In the years prior to that, the council hopes that its members will find a way to be nicer to each other and to the town staff. And the town's putting it in writing. (Insidenova.com)

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