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Altoona Mirror: Wednesday, May 2, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 2, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Sports: Curve set record for most hits in win Life: Some last-minute diet changes before summer 01 Atomra iMirrar Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2001 500 newsstand Timing of bar's closing debated BY WILLIAM KIBLER StaffWriter Authorities moved to shut down Panda's Bar as a public nuisance this week despite a decline in crim- inal activity and a hearing later this month that could lead to the loss of its liquor license. Law enforcement claims to have had good reason to obtain an injunction Monday that padlocked the downtown bar at 1211 llth Ave. and to seek a permanent lockdown in court today. But police have gone to the bar five times so far this year, all for minor calls a rate that is 2V4 times lower than the 78 times they've gone in the past two-plus years. District Attorney Dave Gorman said there were three shootings and a stabbing at the bar last year. The cases involving the bar in the past three years include 10 aggra- vated assaults, seven fights and 21 disturbances, plus harassments and drug dealings. "God forbid, we're presented with this type of evidence and we don't take action and there's another shooting and someone Gorman said. Employees and customers at the bar said Monday that they thought authorities were trying to justify the shutdown by exaggerating the number and severity of problems there. No question things are better there now, Altoona police Chief Janice Freehling said. Three years ago, there was an open air drug market outside the bar. But arrests by the Blair County Drug Task Force and increased vigilance by bar owner Franklin West has helped the rate decline. This year, there has been a domestic altercation, a reported domestic altercation, an argument that threatened to escalate into a fight, a reported disturbance and someone wanted on a warrant, Freehling said. She didn't say whether she thought West should be allowed to continue to operate. Panda's quali- fied as a nuisance bar in the past, but whether it still meets the crite- ria is up to liquor enforcement, she said. -The liquor-law enforcement Investigation, which culminated in-Gorman's petition to padlock the bar, is deeper than just the last thtte months of relative quiet, said Sgt. Charles Strobert of the Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board's regional office in Duncansville. Please see A4 9TH DISTRICT DEBATE PARTING SHOTS "We have to be able to present more choices in health-care plans. In doing so, that creates competition and brings prices down and gives our seniors more options in health care." Bill Sinister Republican "What we have to do when it comes to Medicare is make sure that our seniors in rural Pennsylvania are getting the same coverage and reimbursements as those in Philadelphia. And every senior citizen who is covered by Medicare should receive prescription drug benefits." Scott Conklin Democrat Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich Candidates hit hard over jobs, Medicare and Social Security ItUJJ BY ROBERT IGOE Staff Writer It was the final round for Bill Shuster and Scott Conklin, and the gloves came off. Neither Conklin nor Shuster, two of three chal- lengers for the 9th District seat in the U.S. Congress, withheld any enthusiasm or emotion from Tuesday's AARP-sponsored debate at the Jaffa Mosque, even coming to a confrontation over the origin of their vehicles during a question about job retention. "My opponent likes to talk the said Shuster, the Republican. "But he does not walk the walk. He talks about businesses moving down to Mexico, but the symbol of his campaign is a German vehicle made in Mexico." Shuster was referring to the customized Volkswagen Beetle that Conklin uses in his campaign. Conklin, the Democrat, responded to the jab by reminding the audience that the Dodge PT Cruiser, a vehicle sold at Shuster's automobile dealership, also was manufactured in Mexico. The audience seemed divided in its reaction to both statements an equal number said Shuster should not have raised the issue and that Conklin should not have responded to the barb. Please see A12 Tax cut accord reached Republicans in Congress agree to include trillion package in 2002 budget; Bush declares victory. BY ALAN FRAM The Associated Press WASHINGTON Top congressional Republicans decided Tuesday to include a trillion, 11-year tax cut in next year's budget, giving President Bush most of the tax reduction he long has treasured but less than he and GOP leaders wanted. After failing to persuade pivotal moderate senators to support a deeper tax reduction, the White House and Republican leaders settled for the best they could get: a trillion cut for 2002 through 2011, plus billion more for 2001 and 2002 that is supposed to stimulate the economy. it This is a great day for the American people and the American taxpayer. President Bush 5J "This is a great day for the American people and the American said Bush, who took to the White House Rose Garden to declare victory. He hailed the deal for promising "meaningful, significant, sweeping tax relief, the most tax relief in a generation." Bush had called for a 10-year, trillion tax reduc- tion since early in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1999, making it the pillar of his economic plan. Only last week did he concede he would have to compromise in the face of opposition in the evenly divided Senate. The agreement would let Bush and congressional Republicans claim credit for one of the biggest tax cuts in decades. But it also underscored the limits on the, president's power forced by the Senate's 50-50 division between the two parties. The new tax figure was" reached only after several moderate senators said they would support it and White House aides concluded they could do no better. Bush used the tax agreement to cast himself as a leader who can ease partisan differences. "Republicans and Democrats have today proven we can work together to do what is right for the American he said. Budget bargainers also seemed close to resolving a dis- pute 9ver spending, said White House officials and con- gressional aides speaking on condition of anonymity. That is the last remaining impediment to crafting a com- promise House-Senate budget for the coming fiscal year. Bush proposed a 4 percent increase for many pro- grams for next year, a position endorsed by the House but doubled by the Senate. On Tuesday, leaders were testing support for a 5.2 percent increase. A spending agreement would let lawmakers push a final budget through Congress this week, clearing the way for the Senate to begin writing tax-cutting legisla- tion quickly. NAACP calls for increased security at PSU graduation BY DAN LEWERENZ The Associated Press STATE COLLEGE An NAACP leader called Tuesday for stricter security at Penn State University's graduation, includ- ing metal detectors and pat-downs of guests if necessary. The Rev. Jeffrey Johnson, national youth director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said such measures are impera- tive since the discovery Friday of the body of a black man about 20 miles from Penn State's campus. The campus has been plagued by threatening letters sent to black students. However, police have said the body found doesn't appear to have any connection to the university or the threats. Johnson said university admin- istrators already had agreed to heighten security at graduation, in the student union, at the library and in campus computer labs, but more needs to be done. "I come before you this evening troubled. I come before you this evening upset. Please see AS Convicted killer testifies lawyers failed him at trial William Wright, convicted of killing his former lover's husband, claims he didn't communicate with his attorneys and had little time to prepare for trial. BY PHIL RAY StaffWriter HOLLIDAYSBURG William L. Wright of Altoona began his fight Tuesday to have his murder conviction and death sentence overturned by testifying that he and his attorneys didn't communicate and didn't have proper time to prepare for his trial. Dressed in a blue suit and appearing relaxed as he talked to Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter, Wright said his attorney at the time, Thomas Hooper, failed to talk to him for months. Altoona attorney R. Thomas Forr now represents Wright in what could be several days of hearings to review the mistakes Forr said were made in the case. Forr said there was a difference of opinion on the defense's strategy. Hooper wanted Wright to be evaluated by a psychologist to determine if he was com- petent to stand trial. Please see A4 DtUVEHY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 V. BMFOUR 2 9 3 7 I Lottery numbers, A2 wtAfneS Mostly sunny, Forecast, A2 24 HOURS 3 CARS AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES 942-7070 or 942-7073 m m 0 LOCAL Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion fj SPORTS Local Scoreboard A9 A13 A13 A8 B4 BS [3 NATION Classifieds C6-14 LIFE Comics DS Community news D2 Puzzles D4 Television D4 IN WORLD Thousands of demonstrators in cities around the globe used May Day labor parades to advance their causes often with violent results. PAGE C1   

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