Serbian forces, ignoring peace agreements and international condemnation, terrorized ethnic Albanians, crushing villages, burning businesses and killing families.
When a peace accord negotiated in Rambouillet, France, failed to force the Milosevic government to end its brutal campaign, NATO planes launched a high-tech air war. Over 11 weeks, the NATO forces flew more than 31,000 sorties and dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles, destroying much of Serbia's infrastructure.
The damage was not just to Milosevic's forces. In the course of the campaign, NATO hit residential neighborhoods in Belgrade and other cities, killing scores of men, women and children, along with dozens of Albanian refugees in Kosovo.
On May 7, NATO bombs mistakenly hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three people and setting off a diplomatic furor between China and Washington. The Chinese found it hard to believe the U.S. explanation that the intelligence staff that identified the embassy as a target had used an outdated map.
Late in May, Milosevic was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal, which blamed him for the deportation, murder and persecution of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians.
On June 3, Yugoslavia accepted an international peace plan for ending the conflict, bowing to NATO demands for the withdrawal of all army and police forces, and the deployment of a NATO-dominated peacekeeping force.
The peace has been uneasy at best. When ethnic Albanians returned to their homes, they sought revenge against Serbs, who were forced to flee the province.
International officials say some former guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who led the forces against Milosevic, appear to be behind the campaign to rid Kosovo of its remaining 70,000 Serbs.
Even in peace, the province is a lethal landscape. More than 300 people have been killed or injured by leftover NATO cluster bombs and Serb land mines.
The NATO missiles and bombs caused widespread damage to the nation's environment. It may be decades before ecosystems recover from the thousands of tons of toxic chemicals threatening water supplies and contaminating fields.
Total war damage - from destroyed buildings to lost production - is estimated at $27 billion.
- Jeffrey Fleishman, in Rome
MIDDLE EAST CAME BACK FROM ROCKY START TO 1999 In the Holy Land, 1999 opened mired in pessimism but ended with at least a glimmer of better things to come.
May 4 was the official deadline under the Oslo peace process for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final settlement. But as the year began, the prospect of a Palestinian state looked as remote as Xanadu. The two sides were locked in tiresome bickering, and everything looked inexorably stuck. The sour regional mood was hardly improved by the death Feb. 7 of Jordan's King Hussein, the most steadfast champion of the peace process.
But what a difference an election makes. Israeli voters on May 17 overwhelmingly rejected their hard-line prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, replacing him with Ehud Barak, a brass-studded military general dedicated to restarting the peace process.
Just how many champagne corks were popped that night nobody can count, but it is clear that much rejoicing ensued. Left-to-moderate Israelis celebrated the release of their country from the grip of a religious, right-wing ruling coalition. The Palestinians dared to hope again. The rejoicing extended to the White House, where President Clinton was hoping to burnish his legacy with a triumph at Middle East peacemaking.
At some prodding from Washington, the Israelis and Palestinians renewed their vows to each other with the signing of a new peace agreement Sept. 4 at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Israel resumed its withdrawals from the West Bank, as previously agreed, albeit at a painstakingly slow pace. As the year ended, the parties were racing to meet a February deadline to craft the outline of a peace agreement. September has been set as the deadline for a final deal. Barak has intimated that he expects a Palestinian state to emerge at the end of the process.
But the Palestinians are out of the headlines for the time being. The real bombshell in the Middle East was the resumption last month of peace talks between the Syrians and Israelis. Barak and the Syrian foreign minister, Farouk El Sharaa, met Dec. 15 and 16 in Washington, holding talks between the two nations at the highest level in more than half a century of enmity. The talks are set to resume this week.
Although the Syrians spurned the symbolic handshake at the initial meeting, hopes are high among Middle East watchers that a deal can be reached between Israel and both of its remaining hostile neighbors, Syria and Lebanon, by the middle of 2000.
If so, it will be a breakthrough on the scale of the Camp David agreements, in which Egypt made peace with Israel. The belief here is that after Syria does the same, the Gulf states and Arab North Africa will not be far behind.
- Barbara Demick, in Jerusalem
VIOLENCE IN EAST TIMOR GRABBED WORLD ATTENTION Before last summer, East Timor was a largely unknown, out-of-the-way island province of Indonesia. A former Portuguese colony, it was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and forcibly annexed a year later, creating a climate of violence for more than two decades.
In September, after East Timor voted for independence in a U.N.-sponsored referendum, violence erupted anew. Anti-independence militias went on a rampage of looting and killing.
Many observers - including former President Jimmy Carter, who was part of the U.N. team overseeing the vote - said the militias were backed by the powerful Indonesian military, which feared that East Timorese independence would encourage similar efforts in other parts of their 17,000-island, multiethnic nation.
In the days after the overwhelming pro-independence vote on Aug. 30, four U.N. workers and many civilians were killed, thousands fled, homes were burned and looted, and lawlessness prevailed.
Stung by international criticism, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie imposed martial law. But the Indonesian government initially rejected calls for armed peacekeepers in East Timor, and coming so soon after a controversial NATO air war over Kosovo, world powers were reluctant to consider sending in forces while Indonesia resisted. President Clinton, citing "gross abuses," cut off U.S. military ties with Indonesia, and the International Monetary Fund suspended its multibillion-dollar lending program to the nation.
On Sept. 12, under intense pressure from President Clinton and other world leaders, Indonesia agreed to accept an Australian-led peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops.
That did not stop the violence, however.
On Oct. 19, Indonesia's highest lawmaking body formally relinquished the national claim to East Timor. It also repudiated Habibie, leading him to abandon his campaign to remain in office.
The Indonesian election the next day was won by Abdurrahman Wahid, a frail and nearly blind Muslim cleric who pulled off a stunning upset to win Indonesia's first free and fair presidential election since the nation was founded in 1949.
One week later, the United Nations formally assumed control of East Timor. Last week, international peacekeepers found the remains of more than two dozen bodies in two mass graves they fear may contain more than 100.
COLUMBINE SHOOTINGS LEFT HAUNTING IMAGES April 20 dawned so sunny and spring-like in the Rocky Mountain foothills community of Littleton, Colo., that students were startled by the sight of two boys in trenchcoats stalking across the lawn toward Columbine High School.
Surely it was too warm for their heavy black coats. Seconds later, the reason for the coats became clear: The boys, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, pulled guns from beneath them and began firing at their fellow students, stopping to toss homemade bombs as they entered the sprawling suburban Denver high school.
The lunchtime attack lasted less than an hour. When it was over, 12 students, a teacher, and the two gunmen lay dead, making the slaughter at Columbine the worst in a depressing string of school shootings around the country.
Outside the building, police officers and SWAT teams had no way of knowing that Harris, 18, and Klebold, 17, had committed suicide. It took hours to clear the school of its nearly 2,000 students and teachers, who had barricaded themselves in classrooms and refused to open the doors, fearing the killers had returned. Blaring fire alarms and gushing sprinklers added to the chaos. As the hours ticked past, teacher Dave Sanders bled to death despite his students' efforts to save him.
Around the country, work came to a standstill as people gathered around television sets, transfixed by the sight - which has since become familiar - of children running for their lives from a site always considered safe. Some Denver television stations received calls from children in the school, whispering frantic pleas for help.
Even before the last student had been rescued from the building, Harris' and Klebold's names were circulating, and people were speculating about their motives. They were alienated - they hung around with the small group of "Goth" kids at Columbine, a school dominated by its clean-cut jock culture. They were racist - they taunted their lone black victim, Isaiah Shoels, with racial epithets before shooting him in the face while other students cringed behind desks in the school library. They scorned religion - some of the students in the library, where most of the victims were killed, were asked whether they believed in God.
In videotapes recently released by authorities that the boys made before the shooting, the alienation and racism and hatred came through, but more than anything, the tapes indicated that the boys wanted to become famous.
And they are. "Columbine" has become a catchword, no explanation needed. And even though it was supposed to be the impetus for change, a tragedy so horrific that it would inspire establishing whatever laws were necessary to prevent another school shooting, there have been several since, including one last month in Oklahoma in which a 13-year-old boy wounded four students at his middle school.
Perhaps saddest of all, Columbine itself was shut down for the holidays two days earlier than scheduled because of what authorities termed "a credible threat" against the school that had already been so badly traumatized.
- Gwen Florio
WACO QUESTIONS PERSIST, HANGING OVER RENO For years, the FBI and the Justice Department denied that they had done anything that could have started the fire that burned down the Waco compound of Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh on April 19, 1993, and ended a 51-day siege by the government.
But questions persisted, and in August, both agencies were forced to retreat from that position when a senior FBI official acknowledged that government agents had fired incendiary tear-gas canisters at a bunker near the compound several hours before the buildings went up in flames. Eighty people, including 20 children, were killed in the confrontation.
Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh insist that the Branch Davidians brought about their own demise by starting the fire. They cite infrared photographs at the time of the blaze suggesting that the fire began simultaneously in three spots.
But the FBI disclosure triggered new concerns about a potential cover-up and deepened suspicions among Republicans that the Clinton administration itself bore a substantial share of the responsibility for the Waco catastrophe.
An FBI report to Congress in 1995 on the fire neglected to disclose information - then available to the FBI - that potentially flammable M651 tear-gas canisters had been used to try to flush the cult members from their compound on what became the last day of the siege.
In September, in an attempt to assuage critics, Reno appointed former Sen. John Danforth (R., Mo.) to head an independent probe. He has established no immediate deadline to complete the investigation but has said he expects to finish it by the end of this year.
Concerns about the government's conduct at Waco were underscored by an earlier federal siege. In 1992, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms surrounded the remote mountain cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Weaver's 14-year-old son, his unarmed wife, and an ATF agent were killed during the confrontation. A Senate subcommittee later determined that government actions had helped cause the deaths, and an FBI agent pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to cover up an internal FBI report on the probe.
The credibility of not only the FBI hinges on the outcome of Danforth's inquiry; so, too, does Janet Reno's.
Reno won some praise for announcing that she would take responsibility for the Waco disaster shortly after it happened, even though she suffered no consequences for the failed government attempt to dislodge the cult members.
But the Waco fire was early in her term, and since then, Reno has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans for her handling of a wide variety of issues, notably the department's campaign-finance investigation and allegations of spying by the government of China.
- Chris Mondics, in Washington
MONEY BYPASSED MARKET, FLOODED TECHNOLOGY SECTOR Call 1999 the year the stock market went topsy-turvy - and money came pouring out. Individual investors, at least as much as professionals, ruled the market as millions of people tossed aside their brokers and opened online trading accounts.
These online warriors often bought unprofitable companies, and the strategy paid off. Profitable companies in tried-and-true industries such as banking and health care watched their stocks drop as though there was a recession on.
There wasn't, of course. The economy was about as healthy as it's ever been. On the surface, the stock market boomed, but beyond the technology sector, stock prices stood still or shrank.
The 10 best-performing stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were tech stocks, with Qualcomm Inc., maker of cell phones and other telecommunications equipment, leading the pack with a 2,619 percent return for the year.
The average technology mutual fund was up about 111 percent for the year. Philadelphians cashed in on the trend, mostly through a handful of local tech companies, including Safeguard Scientifics Inc., up 494 percent; Ravisent Technologies Inc., up 220 percent; Internet Capital Group Inc., up 2,733 percent; VerticalNet Inc., up 1,950 percent; and U.S. Interactive Inc., up 333 percent.
Except for Safeguard Scientifics and Ravisent, none of those companies is earning money. And all of them, except for Safeguard, which gave birth to Internet Capital, VerticalNet and U.S. Interactive, went through initial public offerings last year.
And so it was that 1999 ended with the stock of Internet Capital, a company that completed its initial public offering, or IPO, in August, worth $44 billion, almost as much as the venerable General Motors Corp.
Will technology companies keep investors saying IP - Oh, Wow! much longer?
This remarkable tech rally, which has created paper billionaire executives in as little as a day, has divided market pundits. Some say that because tech is fueling the economy's growth, the rally will last several years.
Others say we are witnessing the biggest speculative investing bubble ever.
"As with other industrial manias in American history, this financial bubble will burst before the new industry can become a genuinely mature and productive force that will propel the U.S. economy for years to come," said Michael Perkins, coauthor of The Internet Bubble.
- Miriam Hill
SPORTS STADIUM PROPOSALS LANGUISH AMID OPPOSITION For fans of the city's outdoor professional sports teams - the Phillies and Eagles - 1999 ends as it began: with dashed hopes and vague promises of a brighter future.
Though that certainly could refer to the teams' on-field performances, we are talking here about stadiums. Specifically, new stadiums.
Let's go back to Jan. 1, 1999.
The Phillies and Eagles had been promised stadiums by Mayor Rendell and Gov. Ridge. The cost of the $800 million project - which would replace the much-reviled Veterans Stadium, probably attract more fans, and boost the city's economy - was to be split among the city, state and teams.
By that first day of 1999, it was hoped, the state money would be available. It wasn't. Legislative wrangling and political opposition had blocked the funding in November.
The impasse was resolved, and on Feb. 3 the state House and Senate approved $170 million for the Philadelphia project.
That was supposed to be the hard part. In retrospect, it was a sleigh ride, as the teams discovered. The real sticking point turned out to be where to put the Phillies' ballpark.
The Phils wanted home to be at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. A ballpark there, many thought, would give a major economic boost to Center City in particular.
Phillies officials were greeted by a neighborhood welcoming committee armed with pitchforks and scythes. Leading the mob was State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, who vowed to protect the neighborhoods of Spring Garden and Fairmount from the evils of a new ballpark. Those were defined as traffic jams, lost parking spaces, and general neighborhood disruptions.
Months went by as the team tried to find its way around the impasse.
Unlike the Phillies, the Eagles were content to stay in South Philadelphia. All the team needed was a final OK from City Council.
Eventually, with Council's 1999 session winding down, the Phils abandoned their hopes for the Broad and Spring Garden site and turned instead to South Philadelphia.
And guess what? Residents there were about as happy as those at Broad and Spring Garden when they were told belatedly that they might get two new stadiums.
Last month, City Council President Anna C. Verna announced that no stadium legislation would be introduced until the neighborhood concerns had been addressed.
As the new year begins, expect another long wait for the teams. Although there seems little reason to believe that City Council won't eventually tackle stadiums in 2000, the issue seems to be low on the priority list of Mayor-elect John F. Street.
- Christopher K. Hepp
RIDGE SAYS IT'S TIME FOR PA. TO GET GREENER As evening traffic poured out of the office parks of the Great Valley area, where thousands work and 2.6 million more square feet of offices are planned, Gov. Ridge stood in a nearby clearing and said that progress cannot be measured only by low unemployment and corporate growth.
The measure must include how much green space is left between the office buildings and the housing subdivisions - "a natural stamp on the community," Ridge said.
And so, after a year when efforts to rein in suburban sprawl gathered support from the White House and local voters alike and dominated months of backroom negotiations in Harrisburg, Ridge put pen to paper in fast-growing Chester County last month to sign into law the program called Growing Greener. It's a $646 million environmental spending plan that Ridge said is the largest such investment in Pennsylvania history. It is expected to help save 1,500 farms and thousands of acres of other open space from development, clean up abandoned mines and fix more than 100 infrastructure problems in state parks.
With a report due on his desk in a few weeks from staff members who traveled the state all summer taking Pennsylvania's collective pulse about land development, Ridge suggested that more sprawl-battling measures might be on the way.
The response from the preservationist community: It's about time.
Lawmakers and preservationists have been trying for years to get suburban sprawl onto the governor's radar screen. It appears that they now have his attention.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study that showed Pennsylvania losing cropland, forests and other open space to development at a rate second only to Texas - 1.12 million acres from 1992 to 1997, or 224,640 acres per year.
A week later the American Planning Association, headquartered in Washington, reported that only six states had effectively revised their development policies to minimize sprawl and encourage redevelopment of cities and aging towns. New Jersey, which in 1998 approved dedicating $1 billion to preserve open space, was among them. Pennsylvania was not.
Voters are alarmed. In November, they approved 11 of 12 open space-preservation initiatives on ballots in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that would give municipalities more power to stop unwanted development and more incentives to plan together to accommodate growth. With developers and municipal officials unhappy with the measure, its fate in the House is uncertain.
- Diane Mastrull
PHILA. RAPE STATISTICS SURGE WITH FEWER MISREPRESENTED The patrol officer's report made clear the horror of the attack: The young woman awoke in bed in her apartment off Rittenhouse Square with a stranger on top of her. The man sexually assaulted her. At dawn, he fled.
The city's rape squad said no crime had been committed. It classified the case under Code 2701, "investigation of person," something akin to a police service call.
In fact, that June 1997 assault was the first known attack of the Rittenhouse Square rapist. Police say the same attacker assaulted three other women in 1997, murdered a university student in 1998, and raped a sixth woman in 1998. He is still at large.
In October, police acknowledged that the Rittenhouse Square woman had indeed been a victim of attempted rape. Police Commissioner John F. Timoney said the attack would be added to the city's crime tally, albeit more than two years late.
The Inquirer disclosed in a series of articles that the rape squad had improperly treated sexual-assault cases for decades. Understaffed and overwhelmed with cases, the squad was determined nonetheless to make its statistics shine. It rejected rape complaints in record numbers.
Between 1994 and 1997, according to figures released last month, the squad itself dumped an average of 1,100 cases a year into Code 2701, though police stressed that not all were rapes.
The women whose cases were dismissed tended to be poor, transients, or known to have histories of drug abuse or petty criminal arrests.
In response to the disclosure, City Council last month unanimously urged Mayor-elect John F. Street to ensure that rape-unit detectives were "free of victim-blaming biases."
Timoney ordered a review of cases, promising that the department would investigate any complaints that had been ignored.
In 1998, the department told the FBI that 18 percent of Philadelphia's rape complaints had been "unfounded." That was the highest rejection rate among the nation's 10 most-populous cities. In the first half of 1999, amid demands for more accurate reporting, the rape squad cut its rejection rate to 8 percent.
The problems in the rape squad were another sign of the department's entrenched culture of fiddling with crime statistics, which for years had made Philadelphia appear far safer on paper than it was on the streets.
Since taking command early in 1998, Timoney has made accurate incident reporting a keystone of his strategy for pinpointing the deployment of street officers - based on computerized statistics - and imposing accountability on commanders.
One result of the demand for more honest numbers has been a surge of reported rapes in the city. They are up by a third since 1997, even as reported crime has been falling elsewhere in the nation.
- Clea Benson, Mark Fazlollah,
Michael Matza and Craig R. McCoy
WELFARE CHANGES REDUCED CASELOADS IN PA., N.J. Reforms continued to whittle the welfare caseloads in Pennsylvania and New Jersey last year, but challenges remain.
Thousands of welfare recipients in Pennsylvania had to make a choice: Get a part-time job, or get off public assistance.
The state's tough welfare reform law took effect in March, challenging single mothers to begin working 20 hours a week to keep their benefits coming. The goal: Get people working now - even in low-wage jobs - to prepare them better for 2002, when the federal lifetime limit ends cash assistance forever for all people who have been on public assistance for five years or more.
In the weeks before the March 3 deadline, Mayor Rendell and advocates for the poor led a loud chorus predicting widespread chaos, homelessness and despair.
They argued that the welfare recipients still on the rolls lacked the education to go to work. They lamented the lack of entry-level jobs in the region, and the difficulty that welfare mothers would have arranging child care and transportation. They worried about how recipients suffering from substance abuse or mental illness would meet the new requirements.
The devastating impact of welfare reform was expected to become fodder for the Philadelphia mayor's race. Yet when the state welfare department proceeded cautiously, not imposing cutoffs, the furor died down and the issue was barely discussed on the campaign trail.
Between March and the end of the year, 32,000 Pennsylvanians (21,000 in Philadelphia) reached the state's two-year limit on welfare before cash benefits would be cut. Despite the welfare department's "work-first" approach, which sent virtually all recipients on job searches, just 6,700 of them (4,000 in Philadelphia) went to work as required under the law.
About 12,000 (7,200 in Philadelphia) have received temporary medical exemptions; 3,000 are working, but less than 20 hours a week (1,700 in the city); some 2,900 (2,100 in the city) were enrolled in educational programs that included an approved "work experience."
Ridge administration officials spent the fall touting statistics that show the state's welfare caseload has decreased by nearly 40 percent since 1997, down to 99,525 families comprising 271,634 people. Less publicized is the fact that of 10,400 people who technically should have been cut off from welfare in 1999, none have been.
In New Jersey the Whitman administration, near the end of the third year of its welfare reform effort, has trumpeted the fact that more than half of New Jersey recipients (55 percent) have left the rolls since Whitman took office in 1994. Since 1997 when her WorkFirst program began, the caseload has fallen from 96,000 to about 52,000 statewide. In Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties, it fell from about 15,000 to 7,000.
Best of all, the administration said, the average monthly income of those families doubled as they found jobs in the growing economy. Double, however, may not mean much if the number is low to start with. According to the welfare advocacy group Legal Services of New Jersey, many of those people earn far less than they can live on. An increasing percentage of people still on welfare face huge personal problems, such as drug abuse or lack of education, that make finding work more difficult.
- Monica Yant and Thomas Ginsberg
1999 BROUGHT WELCOME CHANGES IN CITYSCAPE The year just ended was one in which the most exhilarating architectural event in Philadelphia was the unbuilding of a building.
Watching One Meridian Plaza come apart beam by beam, floor by floor over these last months was a source of great satisfaction for every Philadelphian who ever passed that immolated hulk across from City Hall, blackened nine years ago in a deadly fire. With every floor that was sliced off, more sunlight spilled onto the surrounding streets that had suffered so much from their proximity to the downtown slum. How satisfying, then, that the Meridian site is already being considered by commercial developers interested in adding another skyscraper to the city skyline.
Last year should also be remembered as the one when Philadelphia recovered from the excesses of the '80s and began to mark off a place for itself in the post-industrial world. For the first time since that go-go period, downtown Philadelphia was again draped in scaffolding. Though not much new was actually finished, some of the old received fabulous makeovers thanks to a booming national economy and a resurgent interest in urban centers.
In Center City, more than a dozen aging, forgotten office towers were turned into apartments or hotels. The rush to open new hotels can be thanked for rejuvenating such languishing historic gems as the Reading Terminal Headhouse, the PSFS building, the Girard Trust building and the City Hall Annex.
The well-worn streets of Center City show other signs of regrowth as well. SmithKline moved into the first new office building built in a decade. After eons of discussion, work finally began on a new Broad Street performing arts hall. Designed by Rafael Vinoly, one of today's most interesting architects, its sheer glass, barrel-vaulted roof is destined to alter Philadelphia's skyline fundamentally.
On the other side of Center City, another architectural biggie, Henry Cobb, weighed in with an ambitious design for the National Constitution Center at the northern edge of Independence Mall. The museum, which feels more like Washington than Philadelphia, should go a long way toward making the overscaled mall feel more intimate. Less successful is Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood's stiff and unfriendly design for the Gateway Visitors Center on the middle block of the mall.
Some of the most important developments last year were buildings that were only dreams, like a downtown baseball stadium. Though arguments over where to put it are still endlessly replayed, Mayor Rendell deserves credit for not pressing City Council for last-minute approval of a proposed South Philadelphia site, far from the city's expanding restaurant and nightlife scene.
Rendell's legacy has surely been in making the city attractive again to developers. Perhaps even a little too attractive. Thanks to Rendell's deal-at-any-price philosophy, Philadelphia is now in danger of losing one of the characteristics that attracted people in the first place - its intimate, varied streetscapes. From the quirky Victorian shopfronts on Sansom Street to the limestone-front banks on Chestnut, much of what makes Philadelphia interesting and livable is being sacrificed for parking garages. It would be a shame if we are still unbuilding Philadelphia in 2000.
- Inga Saffron
STATE POLICE PROBLEMS DOMINATED IN NEW JERSEY Gov. Whitman wants her tenure to be remembered for preserving open space and for education reforms such as tougher standardized tests and charter schools.
But in 1999, as she considered and ultimately rejected running for a seat in the U.S. Senate, one unwelcome issue threatened to dwarf everything that was on her agenda: the conduct of the state police.
After an exhaustive review of radio logs, patrol records and other data, her administration acknowledged in April what many civil rights advocates had been saying for years: that black and Latino motorists were pulled over and searched more often than whites.
That revelation, coupled with recommendations as to how the practice could be stopped, opened the Republican governor to attacks from both sides. Many law enforcement supporters accused her of backing off the war on drugs. Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, along with more than a few of Whitman's Democratic opponents, suggested that she was doing too little too late.
The uproar continued through the summer with the completion of a second administration report on other allegations of discrimination by troopers, even as Whitman was searching for a new superintendent to heal the divide.
The uproar quieted somewhat toward year's end once former FBI agent Carson J. Dunbar Jr. took charge. Changes were under way even before he assumed the job in November:
The Attorney General's Office is devising a computerized "early-warning system" that would pinpoint any troopers who pull over minorities in disproportionate numbers.
The state police have begun an ambitious effort to enlist more women and minorities, two groups that are underrepresented in the force at large and practically nonexistent in higher-ranking supervisory positions.
They have set up three regional internal affairs offices to make it easier for citizens to file complaints or register praise about troopers. Complaints can also be lodged via the Internet.
Dunbar has been fairly well received by troopers and state police critics alike, and criticism of the agency has to some extent subsided. Late last month, the state and the federal government signed a consent decree stipulating a long list of reforms designed to prevent further profiling, many of them similar to Whitman's proposed reforms. But more negative publicity about the force will surely surface in 2000.
A variety of charges are pending against John Hogan and James Kenna, two troopers who in some ways ignited the controversy. The two are accused of attempted murder in the now-infamous "Turnpike shooting" of April 23, 1998. After pulling over a van for allegedly speeding, the two opened fire, hitting three of the four young minority men inside.
- Tom Avril, in Trenton