In Baltimore City

Council approves Veterans Day as official city holiday

The City Council approved an ordinance last night designating Veterans Day as an official city government holiday. The measure adds Veterans Day to the calendar starting Nov. 11, 2007, a move aimed at giving the mayor time to try to persuade unions to sacrifice another day off in exchange.

The Board of Estimates is expected to act tomorrow on a request from the city labor commissioner to designate Veterans Day only for those employees who observe the birthdays of Presidents Lincoln and Washington together on Presidents Day. City employees who separately observe the birthdays could not also have Veterans Day as a holiday.

The measure could set up a conflict over whether the council or the board is empowered to establish such holidays. The Law Department has stated that the board's authority supersedes the council because the measure financially affects the city.

Forecast of rain forces O'Malley inaugural indoors

The inauguration ceremony for Mayor Martin O'Malley's second term will be moved indoors today because of a forecast of rain, city officials announced yesterday.

The ceremony will be held at noon inside the War Memorial Building at 101 N. Gay St., across the plaza from City Hall.

A smaller, restructured City Council will be sworn in at 10 a.m. Thursday in the auditorium of City College. The new council will comprise a president, elected citywide, and 14 members from separate districts. It will replace a council with a president and members elected from six three-member districts.

Police rule man's death a justifiable homicide

The death of a man who fell from the second-floor porch roof of his ex-girlfriend's house during a struggle with her estranged husband early Friday has been ruled justifiable homicide and no charges are being filed, city police said yesterday.

The dead man -- identified as Ferdinand Byas, 46, of the first block of Brubar Court in Baltimore County -- was trying to break into the home of Mary Harcum in the 1000 block of N. Bentalou St. about 3:30 a.m. when he became involved in a struggle on the porch roof with Barry Harcum, 50, of the 2400 block of S. Paca St., police said.

During the struggle, Byas fell to the pavement. He died a short time later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

Hanukkah community fest set tomorrow at Hopkins

Chabad Jewish Center of Central Baltimore and Johns Hopkins, a nonprofit organization highlighting Jewish pride and awareness, will hold its first Hanukkah community festival at 5 p.m. tomorrow on the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University.

Mayor Martin O'Malley and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin have been invited to light the celebration's grand menorah -- the candelabra symbolic of the eight-day Jewish holiday known as the Festival of Lights -- at the main square near Gilman Hall.

The event will include the singing of traditional songs with Baltimore's Kol Hane'orim choir, entertainment, a prize raffle for children and a tasting of traditional holiday treats. For information on the free event or Chabad, contact program director Chani Gopin at 410-243-8672 or

In Baltimore County

Meetings set to discuss school graduation testing

TOWSON -- The League of Women Voters will hold meetings to review plans for high school graduation testing.

Meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at Epiphany Episcopal Church, 2116 Pot Spring Road, Timonium; and at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the league office, 6600 York Road, Suite 211.

Information: 410-377-8046.

Fund for Social Welfare collecting toys for needy

TOWSON -- The Fund for Social Welfare is collecting toys for the holiday season at locations throughout Baltimore County.

The fund accepts unwrapped, new toys for distribution among needy Baltimore County Department of Social Services clients. Toy can be dropped off at these sites: Bassett Furniture Direct, 6212 Baltimore Pike or 1125 Cromwell Bridge Road; the Management Center at Towson Town Center; Krispy Kreme at 8010 Belair Road, 2129 York Road or 10021 Reisterstown Road; and at the FedEx office, 7066 Golden Ring Road.

Information: 410-853-3024.

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