The week in review

Worst week for auto fatalities: Three young men– Joshua Eugene Bryant, 18, Chad Arron Durrer, 20, and Robert P. Bull, 18– die November 30 on the U.S. 250 Bypass near Locust Avenue when the Honda Civic Durrer was driving crosses the median and hits an eastbound Jeep Cherokee. That follows the hit-and-run death of 19-year-old Martha E. "Liza" Jones November 29 on Earlysville Road. In that case, Albemarle police arrest and charge Robert Steven Newell December 6.

Worst alleged suicide: Douglas Dwayne Elliott, allegedly depressed and in pain after being taken off Oxycontin, begins stabbing himself with an ice pick in a doctor's office on December 2. He is shot and killed by Orange County Deputy Thomas "Moose" Mallory outside the psychiatrist's office after stabbing Mallory five times with the ice pick. Relatives quoted in stories by Reed Williams and Olympia Meola of the Daily Progress theorize that Elliott's death was a suicide.

Briefest escape: Ankle-shackled Michael Alan Finch shuffles out of the Greene County Sheriff's Office December 4 when an investigator leaves him alone to check on video equipment, according to John Yellig in the Progress. Finch, of Albemarle County, is captured seven hours later less than a mile away.

Best news for Charlottesville taxpayers: City Council considers lowering the tax rate after skyrocketing assessments the past few years.

Worst news for Charlottesville taxpayers: Council says the city– facing a $3.2 million budget shortfall– may raise the tax on cars instead to balance the budget.

Best news for studious elementary students: Albemarle school officials want to add 20 minutes to the school day, which– at six hours and 15 minutes– is one of the shortest in the state.

Biggest slap on the wrist: Loudoun County second-grade teacher Lynne Wine is found guilty of misdemeanor assault December 2 and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for slapping the hand of an eight-year-old.

Best settlement for Attorney General Jerry Kilgore: State Republicans agree to pay $750,000 to state Democrats for eavesdropping on conversations in 2002, sparing the presumed gubernatorial candidate from having to take the stand in the Dems' lawsuit.

Best get for UVA's Miller Center: UVA law grad Ted Kennedy will record his oral history here, the first sitting U.S. Senator the Center has chronicled.

Latest prestigious post-season bowls: After two years at the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, UVA snags an invite to play at the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho, December 27.

Least sexy awards: Albemarle County receives two national financial awards from the Government Finance Officers Association. And the Center for Digital Government ranks Charlottesville one of the top 10 city governments for its use of technology– and that's before the controversial CityLink project.

Best news for consumers: Free credit reports are on the way, starting December 1, thanks to the Federal Trade Commission. Access is staggered; Virginians will be able to request their free reports September 1, 2005.

Biggest change for Franklin & O'Bryan: They're no longer on the letterhead of the Chandler Law Group.

Best appearance on a last show: UVA prof Mark Edmundson, author of Why Read?, appears on the final episode of CNN's 15-year-long series, Booknotes, December 5.

Longest Jeopardy winning streak: Ken Jennings ends his 74-game, $2.5 million reign on the answer-in-the-form-of-a-question show November 30.

Best free publicity for H&R Block: Jennings is unable to come up with the correct answer for "Most of this firm's 70,000 white-collar employees work only four months a year."

Most abducted cartoon character: A six-foot, inflatable version of SpongeBob SquarePants disappears from Burger Kings across the nation, according to numerous media reports.