The Baltimore Sun

School board OKs Williams as the system's chief of staff

The Baltimore school board voted last night to appoint a retired Army officer as the chief of staff to Andres Alonso, the new chief executive officer.

Bennie E. Williams, a Baltimore native who served 35 years in the Army, is scheduled to begin his new job today. The board's vote to appoint him was unanimous, with member Kalman R. "Buzzy" Hettleman absent.

Williams, 57, graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore in 1968. He earned a bachelor's degree in education at Morgan State University before joining the Army in 1972. He also has a master's degree in transportation management from Florida Institute of Technology.

Before retiring from the military this year with the rank of major general, he served as chief operating officer of the Defense Logistics Agency, overseeing more than 400 civilian and military personnel responsible for distributing equipment to Army personnel worldwide.

In his new job, Williams will oversee the daily operations at school system headquarters. He will be in charge of policy implementation, monitor budgets and hear grievances and appeals from staff and students.

Sara Neufeld

Anne Arundel

: Ground rent

Legal challenge to law withdrawn

A trustee for a ground rent owner has withdrawn the lawsuit that he filed in June in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of a new law that ended ejectment - the seizure of a property for nonpayment of ground rent.

Charles Muskin, a trustee for two trusts from his grandfather's estate that include about 300 ground rents in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, said he decided that his filing was premature. He plans to refile his claim the next time he has reason to file an ejectment action. That could be six months away, he said.

But other ground rent owners also are considering filing such an action and might get to it before him, Muskin noted.

A law, which took effect July 1, ended ejectment. The legislation was part of reforms enacted after a series in The Sun that reported that ground rent holders had sued to get possession of homes nearly 4,000 times over six years - sometimes over unpaid sums of as little as $24.

June Arney


: Politics

Carter picks up ACORN endorsement

Del. Jill P. Carter, the Northwest Baltimore legislator who is running for mayor, picked up the support of one of the city's most active community organizations yesterday - one of the first endorsements of her campaign.

The political action committee tied to ACORN - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - also announced yesterday that it will back Michael Sarbanes for City Council president.

Carter, who has called for filling in the ranks of the Police Department and increasing foot patrols and who has been the most vocal candidate against electricity rate increases, is running in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary to unseat Mayor Sheila Dixon.

John Fritze


Rawlings-Blake to air first radio ad

City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who is running to retain her seat on the council, will air her first campaign advertisement on radio today, a campaign spokesman said.

The spot, which will run on three stations, comes days after one of her opponents, City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., aired the first radio ad of the campaign. Rawlings-Blake's ad features her mother, Dr. Nina Rawlings.

"Pete would be proud," Rawlings says in the ad, referring to Rawlings-Blake's father, the late Del. Howard P. Rawlings. "It's so wonderful that the top four officials in Baltimore are all African-American women. We've really come a long way."

Community activist Michael Sarbanes and Charles Ulysses Smith are also running in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary.

John Fritze

Park concerts

Bands to perform tonight, tomorrow

Two concerts are planned this week as part of the 147th Music in the Parks Summer Concert Series. The series, which is sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks' Bureau of Music and Magic 95.9 FM, offers free concerts in parks around the city from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Baltimore's Big Band is to perform tonight in Ridgely's Delight, and Blue Sky 5 is scheduled to perform tomorrow in Patterson Park. Information: 410-396-7900.

Federal court

City man sentenced in bank robberies

A 45-year-old Baltimore man was sentenced yesterday to more than six years in prison for robbing 15 banks in the region over a two-year period, federal prosecutors announced yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis sentenced Craig Joseph Mills to 78 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for bank robbery. Davis also ordered Mills to pay restitution of $31,066.

According to his guilty plea, from April 2005 to Feb. 15, Mills robbed 15 banks in Fullerton, Pikesville, Ellicott City, Abingdon, Owings Mills, Frederick, Columbia and Rosedale. Mills stole a total of $32,766, and prosecutors said $1,600 was recovered.

Matthew Dolan

Anne Arundel

: Annapolis

Leopold seeks to ban 'coal fly ash' disposal

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold will submit emergency legislation to the County Council that would ban the disposal of combustion ash, or "coal fly ash," in the county, he announced yesterday.

Leopold will also ask the Maryland Department of the Environment to classify combustion ash as a hazardous waste.

Last year, the county's Department of Health tested 83 private wells near the BBSS mining site in Gambrills and found that 23 wells had contaminants at or above federal and state levels for safe drinking water.

"It is necessary to add new regulations regarding the use of combustion ash as a material to fill land," Leopold said in a statement. "The legislation ... will protect residents from the contamination of groundwater by hazardous materials."

Nia-Malika Henderson

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