<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:25:57 -0500 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:25:57 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Goodbye D.C., Hello Hawaii]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:42:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

In today's The Week Ahead: The Obamas hit Hawaii for the holidays, the Christmas truce remembered, final 2014 economic numbers released -- and our annual North Korean Holiday skit?

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Congress Castrates Democracy]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 05:58:40 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/460241066.jpg

It cannot be said any more plainly.

Last week, Congress castrated the D.C. Council, our mayor and the people of Washington by passing legislation intended to invalidate the city’s November vote to legalize marijuana.

(We say “intended” because there is an effort by the city to reinterpret the legislation.)

The popular vote of 115,050 citizens was summarily ignored and laughed off as Congress voted to overturn a local election. Only Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., gave an impassioned floor speech on behalf of District citizens.

Booker said that the “self-determination of peoples is at the core of our Democratic ideals as a nation. I believe it is an offense to Americans of all states.”

It wasn’t just conservative Republicans who allowed the amendment, but people like Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chairman for a few more weeks of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. And President Barack Obama.

The House Republican leadership had inserted language into a “must pass” budget bill denying the city the right to spend federal or local tax dollars on legalizing marijuana.

The Democrats, anxious to pass the budget, allowed the poisonous language to remain.

At week’s end, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and the city’s attorney general were trying to find a loophole escape for the city. The amendment — called a rider — says that the city could spend no federal or local funds to “enact” the legislation. But Norton and some others say it came too late, that the law was enacted when the voters approved it.

“You’ve got to look closely at what they do,” Norton said Friday on the WAMU 88.5 Politics Hour. “And in their rush to do it, I believe they have made a mistake.”

Norton especially noted that Congress had dropped language preventing the city from “carrying out” any such law.

But whether or not the city is seizing a thin reed in this battle, there is more to the story.

When a whole city is disenfranchised, where is the outrage? Fewer than a dozen demonstrators descended on the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week.

A few years ago, when Congress had passed legislation banning the use of any federal or local funds to support needle exchanges for drug users, the city turned to private, nonprofit groups. And Mayor Vincent Gray last year busted up a Reid news conference on Capitol Hill to avoid closing the city during the federal government shutdown.

But now, Gray, who is just weeks from leaving office, is strangely silent. Both at a ceremony accepting some federal land at Walter Reed and at a news conference on financing the soccer stadium, the mayor passed up chances to call out the wrongdoers in both parties.
Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser didn’t appear very outraged either.

In a brief talk at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments luncheon last week, Bowser first mentioned regionalism and traffic and air pollution and public safety and homelessness and the Olympics. And when she did get to the congressional affront, she never specifically asked the room full of congressmen and local elected officials to lift a hand to protect the District’s right to its own local legislation.

“We also want to make sure the Congress recognizes the people of the District of Columbia and their will,” she finally said, adding that she and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson would “reach out” for help from suburbanites.

■ Where’s President Obama? The president’s White House agreed to the marijuana rider. WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle filed a story recalling that Obama had publicly supported the city’s earlier legislation to decriminalize marijuana. But the White House wasn’t standing up for the city’s right to pass its own laws without undue interference from Congress.

One caller to the WAMU program on Friday asked what District citizens could do. Norton responded that “we do need more activism.”

You might say we need it from a lot of people, in office or not.

■ The soccer vote. The D.C. Council will pass the final version of the new soccer stadium deal on Wednesday. The council was scheduled to meet and vote on Tuesday, but Chairman Mendelson agreed to postpone the vote until Wednesday. That allowed Mayor-elect Bowser to travel on Monday to Los Angeles, where the U.S. Olympic Committee was hearing bids from the District, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco on which city would get to represent the USA in the world competition for the 2024 Olympics.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Council Staffers Stage Walk Out]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:57:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc+council+staffers+walk+out.jpg

Dozens of D.C. Council staffers walked out of the Wilson Building Tuesday to show their solidarity with protesters who've called attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.

Staffers stood on the steps of the Wilson Building holding their hands up and chanting, "Black Lives Matter."

"It matters because it could be me, it could be my son. I think about my son everyday when he goes to school, and he's never been in trouble before," said staffer Marquez Clifford.

Protests — some violent — have occurred around the nation since grand juries last month declined to indict the officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Last week, congressional staffers left their jobs and stood on the steps of the Capitol holding their hands up.

Days later, thousands of protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and to the Capitol.

While protesters rallied in Washington over the weekend, other groups marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City and hundreds took to the street in Boston to protest against the killings.

Politicians and others have talked about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.

<![CDATA[Mayor-Elect Bowser Keeping Chief Lanier, Chancellor Henderson]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:46:16 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008838950_1200x675_373048387530.jpg

Two popular D.C. leaders will stay on in Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser’s administration. Bowser announced Monday she is keeping Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

Lanier clearly wanted to stay on the job she's had since 2007. Overall crime is down and homicides have moderated, but the city remains a frequent target of protests, and Lanier faces a rapidly aging police force that needs constant replacements while only one in 25 applicants is accepted.

Henderson was deputy to former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and was picked by Mayor Vincent Gray in 2010 to lead the city schools. One major issue is the city's attempt for the first time since the 1960s to redraw city school boundaries. The plan could affect enrollment, property values and integration of students.

In the race for mayor, the boundary plan proposed by Gray was so controversial bowser pledged she would make changes as mayor even though the new plan is being implemented now and changes could confuse parents.

“We don't expect to see any changes take place until I take office,” Bowser said.

She said any changes would be made early in the new year.

<![CDATA[Sentence of at Least 10 Years Recommended for McDonnell]]> Sat, 13 Dec 2014 17:49:39 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_bob_mcdonnell_exgobernador_virgina_declarado_culpable.jpg

The U.S. Probation Office recommended former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spend at least a decade in prison for his corruption conviction.

In September, McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted for accepting more than $175,000 in gifts and loans.

The probation office suggested a range from 10 years and a month to 12 years and seven months.

Sentencing is set for January.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What's Next for the Spending Bill?]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:21:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008814684_1200x675_371250243553.jpg NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray has the latest on the government spending bill.]]> <![CDATA[Blocked Marijuana Legislation Prompts More D.C. Protests]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 23:18:19 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008792168_1200x675_370165827587.jpg

Protesters are on the move in downtown D.C. again Wednesday evening. This time they are joined by demonstrators furious with Congress over a spending bill that blocks the district from legalizing marijuana.

In November, D.C. residents voted in favor of making it legal to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants, and share (but not sell) up to an ounce of marijuana to anyone 21 or older. The measure also makes it legal to use or sell drug paraphernalia related to marijuana.

Late Tuesday Congress reached a $1.1 trillion spending deal that bars the district from legalizing marijuana.

“This is not about marijuana, though, this is not about drug policy,” said DC Vote Executive Director Kim Perry. “This is about local democracy.”

Activists took that message to Sen. Harry Reid’s office Wednesday. They occupied Reid’s reception are for several hours until a Reid policy advisor agreed to meet with them.

The meeting proved unsuccessful, so the activists planned more protests.

Supporters of legalizing marijuana joined Code Pink demonstrators Wednesday evening outside the Department of Justice, where mothers of victims of police killings are also protesting.

From there, the marijuana activists marched on the sidewalk to Capitol Hill chanting, “We voted. It counted. You must respect our ballot,” while Code Pink marched to the White House.

D.C. police implemented rolling road closures as the demonstrators marched along Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues in downtown D.C.

Meanwhile Perry, of DC Vote, was the last activist waiting for Reid. U.S. Capitol Police escorted her out of the Hart Senate Office Building after the Senate adjourned, but she said she'll return Thursday morning.

Marijuana activists say the issue of race relations and police and Congress blocking a local election are linked.

“This issue is directly related to the national conversation that’s going on about policing and race relations,” said Adam Eidinger of the DC Cannabis Campaign. “To think that overturning an election is going to help that conversation is completely wrong.”

If Congress does vote to block D.C.'s election, some activists want district officials to defy Congress and legalize marijuana anyway.

“I think that the language that is in the omibus bill is inherently ambiguous,” said Dr. Malik Burnett of the DC Cannabis Campaign. “It is unclear as to whether or not the initiative is directly blocked by this effort. I think that the council members and city government should stand with the people.”

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: And The Days Dwindle Down ]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:41:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dcflag-shutterstock_62461042.jpg

The year 2014 is nearing the end of its run.

There’s plenty of time left for big stories, but clearly the death of Marion Barry would rank at the top of any local list we have now.

Just as Barry’s death truly marked the end of an era, the election of Muriel Bowser as mayor begins a new chapter in our city’s history. (Bowser was in New York this week attending a mayors’ conference on immigration policy.)

The other big — and unfinished — news of 2014 is the ongoing investigation into corruption in Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign. Money-man Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty last March to financing a nearly $700,000 illegal campaign for Gray. His guilty plea pretty well put the final nail in any hopes that Gray would win his re-election bid. We’re still waiting to see whether Gray himself will face any charges before or after he leaves office Jan. 2.

Gray has denied any wrongdoing. Yet many people find it hard to believe that the mayor, a stickler for details, was oblivious to the illegal effort, which worked hand in hand with the official operation — sometimes in a room adjacent to the campaign office. But that’s what prosecutors, defense attorneys and a judge may decide.

Other unfinished stories include the future of the city’s streetcar system. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson eliminated a lot of the planned capital funds for the project, which has gotten off to a balky start at best. The only completed line, on H Street NE, has yet to accept passengers.

The council passed several school reform measures, including an expenditure of $80 million in new funds to aid “at-risk” students and the strongest special education changes in decades. The measures were all the work of Education Committee chair David Catania. Their importance was somewhat subsumed in his unsuccessful campaign for mayor, but they will have lasting effects on public education.

And finally, our list of top stories includes the council’s vote to move ahead with the $300 million soccer stadium project. Here again, though, funding for the city’s $150 million share is not clear-cut.

And the team, D.C. United, has been losing money each year. The agreement has the team paying up to $150 million for the 20,000-seat stadium itself. But what if the wealthy owners start the project and then, somewhere down the road, ask for more city taxpayer support? What will D.C. officials do then?

■ Barry laid to rest. Former Mayor and Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry was buried Saturday at historic Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill. Barry himself had picked the site in his funeral directive.

“I think it’s the perfect place for Marion Barry,” said local author, speaker and history aficionado Garrett Peck. “I was thrilled he chose it. It’s the most prominent cemetery in D.C. history. I think he’ll be in good company there.”

Barry is in the same row as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. But other notables in the 35-acre cemetery are Civil War photographer Mathew Brady and composer and U.S. Marine Band director John Philip Sousa, among many others.

■ A final word. A.J. Cooper died this past week of a heart attack. He was only 34. Many readers may not know his name. But Jay was a policy director for the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and he was involved in all sorts of city issues.

He had made one unsuccessful run for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council and just weeks ago had said he intended to run for the Ward 4 position being vacated by Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser.

Jay — Algernon J. Cooper III — was almost uniformly liked by all who knew him. Our condolences also go to fiancee Ryan Palmer. She and Jay had become engaged over the Thanksgiving holiday

A native of Washington, Jay was a graduate of Roosevelt High and the University of Maryland. Jay’s funeral was Tuesday. His family, including his aunt Peggy Cooper Cafritz, is asking that any memorial contributions go to the teen pregnancy prevention program, at dccampaign.org.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Hogan: Md. Gov. O'Malley Rushing Policies as Term Ends]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 15:19:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP696523580691.jpg

Larry Hogan says Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is rushing to implement policies under the wire before he leaves office next month.

The Republican governor-elect said Tuesday he believes it would be better for many of the decisions to be made by newly elected officials. He said that's because Maryland voters decided to go in a different direction on Election Day. O'Malley's a Democrat.

Hogan takes office Jan. 21. He spoke to reporters after meeting with the state's five Republican county executives.

Hogan said they discussed the state's heroin epidemic and that he plans to restore state money for local road improvements cut in recent years to help balance the budget.

The county executives who attended the meeting came from Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard, Cecil and Wicomico counties.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Mayor Bowser Appoints City Administrator]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:32:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1208-rashad-young.jpg

D.C. Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser announced her appointment of Alexandria City Manager Rashad M. Young as the District's new city administrator Tuesday when she takes office Jan. 2.

The city administrator job is the top appointment the mayor-elect can make and doesn't require council approval.

News4's Tom Sherwood first broke the news on Twitter Monday evening.

The city administrator post is the most powerful appointed position in city government. The city administrator oversees planning and day-to-day operations of the $12 billion budget and 33,000 city workers.

This will be the biggest government post Young has had in his public career. In Alexandria he had a workforce of about 3,000 employees and a budget of $640,000.

At a news conference Tuesday, Bowser and Young insisted that he is up for the job.

"Rashad brings great energy, experience and a proven track record to the District of Columbia,” Bowser said in a release announcing the appointment. “He will play a critical role in executing my bold vision for the district and help us deliver world-class services to the residents and businesses of Washington, D.C.”

In Alexandria, Young is credited with forming the Office of Performance and Accountability and the Department of Project Implementation. He also enhanced civic engagement with Call.Click.Connect, which allows direct communication with staff.

“I am excited to help Mayor-elect Bowser form a more transparent and accountable government in the District of Columbia, Young said.

Young will earn a salary of $285,000.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille said he was first informed Thursday that the plan was in the works. He spoke with Bowser Friday and essentially gave her his blessing and then asked Young to contact all the Alexandria council members.

"It's exciting for him," Euille said. "We are saddened we are losing him. It speaks volumes on the quality of the leadership we have in the [Alexandria]."

Young is the latest in a succession of Alexandria senior officials to leave. Deputy City Manager Thomas Gates announced two weeks ago he was resigning to take a job as Roanoke County administrator.

Euille said the announcement about Young's new position will be made public at Tuesday night's Alexandria City Council meeting. Euille will recommend that deputy city manager Mark Jenks be named acting city manager.

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<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: No Government Shutdown, Right?]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:05:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

The Week Ahead with Andy Gross: Can Speaker Boehner tame the Tea Party? President Obama's major education grants, big city mayors meet to implement new immigration policies -- and the lowdown with Lyons!

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<![CDATA[What Barry Wanted as His Legacy]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 16:31:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008742240_1200x675_367812675978.jpg Marion Barry was determined to safeguard his legacy. Omar Tyree, co-author of Barry's autobiography, "Mayor for Life," shares what Barry was most proud of in his career, and whether he ever talked about regrets.]]> <![CDATA[First Read, Dec. 5]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 16:29:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/2014-12-05_1628.jpg NBC political writer Carrie Dann discusses the nomination of Ashton Carter as secretary of defense. She also discusses Obama's handling of the situation in Ferguson, as well as what Congress needs to get done before the lame-duck session ends. ]]> <![CDATA[D.C. Hosts Ebola Summit to Help Halt Virus' Spread]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 06:03:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dcflag-shutterstock_62461042.jpg

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray has declared Dec. 5 Ebola Awareness Day as the city hosts a national summit on how to halt the virus' spread.

The summit is being held Friday at the Washington Convention Center in northwest Washington.

The mayor's office says the summit will bring together West African leaders, international humanitarian aid organizations, and national and international health organizations. The goal is to better coordinate relief efforts and enhance fundraising efforts.

The Ebola outbreak has sickened nearly 17,300 people, killing about 6,100 in Africa. Two people died in the U.S. after contracting the virus in West Africa, including a Sierra Leone native whose family lives in New Carrollton, Maryland.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: How Good Is It Here?]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:40:02 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Washington+DC+Skyline+Frontpage+shutterstock_27472966.jpg

The Washington region is doing pretty damn good.

Our average household income is $115,275. That is nearly 60 percent higher than the U.S. average of $72,809.

The new statistics come from Delta Associates, which keeps tabs on the ups and downs of our regional economy. Its year-end review for 2014 says our area over the next few years likely will add about 44,000 jobs annually. That’s apparently pretty good considering the federal government is not growing but in many cases cutting jobs.

Since the national recession of 2008 to 2010, Delta Associates says Washington “performed better than almost any other major metro area in terms of unemployment, job growth and income growth.” It says the region began slowing over the past two years, in part because of federal budget cuts and harsh weather. “But payroll job change remained positive,” it says, though just below historical standards.

And back to that high average household income.

“The elevated household incomes in the Washington area yield increased discretionary spending and support demand for retail goods and space,” Delta Associates reports. That’s probably good news for the high-end CityCenterDC that has been opening downtown. Its upscale niche ensures many people will experience the stores there only through window shopping.

But here are some startling numbers on how much retail space there is around this region.

There’s a total of 73.3 million square feet in the metro suburbs. Of that, 39.8 million is in Northern Virginia, 33.5 million in suburban Maryland.

And are the suburbs growing? Yes, says Delta Associates. It reports 1.4 million square feet of shopping center space now under construction in suburban Maryland, about the same as Northern Virginia. But Northern Virginia has double the amount of “planned space” that’s still on the drawing boards or in the approval process.

The bottom line from Delta Associates? “Over a longer time horizon, job growth in the Professional/Business Services, Construction, and Education/Health Services sectors will support steady demand for retail goods.”

OK, folks, now get out there and spend, spend, spend. But, you say, what about federal “sequestration” and other cutbacks?

“The fiscal cutbacks of sequestration are no longer in the headlines,” the report says, “and reduced federal spending has not [not!] been nearly the hardship for the local economy that many analysts predicted.”

And here’s some big news you might be surprised to learn. Delta Associates notes that the federal budget deficit has declined 29 percent since fiscal year 2013. The Notebook wonders why that hasn’t been bigger news.

But let Delta Associates tell it: “The ongoing drop in the deficit since 2009 is unprecedented since the period shortly after World War II, and makes the performance of the Washington metro area economy all the more impressive. While the Federal government is unlikely to resume its historical spending and hiring habits for at least several more years, it is likely to remain a stable source of well-compensated jobs over the long term, and the area’s private sector is growing rapidly enough to support a robust retail environment.”

Did we say, happy New Year?

And just who or what is Delta Associates? It’s been providing consulting, data services and valuation reviews for the local real estate industry for 30 years. Check them out at DeltaAssociates.com.

■ Replacing Marion Barry. Of course, no one could replace Marion Barry. But someone has to fill out the last two years of the late Ward 8 D.C. Council member’s term.

The D.C. Board of Elections on Monday formally declared Barry’s seat vacant. It set April 28 for the special election. Potential candidates — and we expect a lot of them — can begin picking up petitions sheets on Dec. 8. A candidate must return petitions with at least 500 signatures of Ward 8 voters by Jan. 28.

There are new rumors Barry’s son Christopher may jump into the race, but expect others who have done a lot of community work.

The elections board is also expecting to get a letter from Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser formally saying she intends to resign her Ward 4 council seat on Jan. 2. As soon as she does, the elections board can schedule the same day April 28 for the special election to fill the remaining two years in her term. If Bowser waits and files her letter at the end of December, the elections officials will have to hold a Ward 4 election in May.

Bowser wants to remain an official council member through December. The council has a lot of business — including the soccer stadium plan — to get through before the Christmas recess. Any legislation that doesn’t pass by the end of this month must be reintroduced to the new council after Jan. 2, 2015.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Frontpage/Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Students Ask Gov. to Spare Their Slice of Budget]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 10:40:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/2014-12-02_1034.png

Student leaders from more than a dozen Virginia colleges are asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to save their slice of the commonwealth's budget.

The groups fears that when lawmakers cut $322 million from the state's 2015 budget, the bidget for higher education will be the first on the chopping block. 

In an open letter posted online, the students says addtional cuts to the higher education budget will threaten the affordability of colleges, shift costs to them and make obtaining a job after graduation more difficult.

Just over 1,000 people have signed the "Save Our Slice" petition.

Click here for more information.


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<![CDATA[1 Conviction Against Ex-Va. First Lady Tossed Out]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:24:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/mcdonnell+bob+and+maureen.jpg

A federal judge has overturned one conviction against former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, but affirmed other corruption verdicts against her and her husband.

Judge James R. Spencer rejected the McDonnells' request for a new trial or for their convictions to be overturned.

But Spencer did toss a jury's decision that Maureen McDonnell was guilty of obstructing justice. Spencer said prosecutors did not prove that she attempted to mislead a federal grand jury investigation.

The couple was convicted of multiple public corruption charges nearly three months ago.

With Monday's ruling, Maureen McDonnell is now guilty of eight counts instead of nine. Her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, was convicted on 11 counts.

Defense lawyers had filed the motions asking U.S. District Judge James Spencer to acquit the couple, or at least order a new trial.

Spencer had presided over the couple's nearly six-week trial during the latter half of the summer.

During the trial, bombshell testimony revealed the McDonnells were living separately, and that Maureen McDonnell had frequently texted and emailed the wealthy businessman whose gifts and loans to the couple were at the center of the case.

A jury convicted the McDonnells in September of illegally trying to help a dietary supplement maker in exchange of more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.

The McDonnells are expected to be sentenced early next year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama to Attend Meetings on Ferguson]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:39:57 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008690170_1200x675_365581379522.jpg NBC political writer Carrie Dann discusses whether the president will be traveling to Ferguson in the future and how he is currently handling the situation from the White House.]]> <![CDATA[Special Election Set for Marion Barry's Council Seat]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 20:31:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP090706040269.jpg

The D.C. Board of Elections officially declared former Mayor Marion Barry's Ward 8 seat on the D.C. Council vacant Monday.


Barry died last week of natural causes due to heart problems. He was 78 years old.

A special election to fill the remaining two years on Barry's term was set for April 28.

Many are urging Barry's son, Christopher, to run for the seat.

Christopher Barry was in the crowd Monday on the steps of the Wilson Building, where an unofficial event honoring the former mayor included anti-gun violence activists and other community members.

It's been 17 years since a special election had to be held because of a council member's death.

The Board of Elections is also dealing with a vacancy in Ward 4, which was left open after Council member Muriel Bowser won the mayoral election. There may be a push to hold the special elections for both wards on the same day.

Three days of public mourning for Barry begins Thursday, when his body will lie in repose at the Wilson Building before a motorcade through the city on Friday and a funeral Saturday at the city's convention center.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Vincent Gray Attends Last Turkey Bowl as Mayor]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 22:41:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Mayor+Vincent+Gray+at+the+2014+Turkey+Bowl.jpg

H.D. Woodson's 16-12 win over Ballou for D.C.’s public school title was one of the best Turkey Bowls in recent memory, and it was particularly special for Mayor Vincent Gray.

The Turkey Bowl has been played 45 times, and Gray has been to most of them – first as a student-athlete, then as a parent and for the past 10 years as an elected official.

“It’s a real honor,” Gray said. “I’m a product of D.C. Public Schools. It’s just an honor to be part of such a great experience for our young people.”

Council member Yvette Alexander, the only other elected official to attend Thursday’s game, knows what it means to the students to have the mayor there and what it must be like for him to know this is his last as mayor.

“I guess it’s very heart-wrenching for him, but you can best believe if he’s here in the district still, he’ll be at a Turkey Bowl, not as an elected official but as a fan and as a proud D.C. resident.

Thousands of fans showed up to watch the game, enjoy the world famous Ballou marching band and to have some fried fish. The game came down to the final seconds with Woodson sealing the victory with an end zone interception. It was their 14th Turkey Bowl win, more than any other high school in the district.

As Gray congratulated each player individually, he asked each senior about his college plans.

“Today, this will feel like the biggest experience of their life, but their lives are really ahead of them,” Gray said. “I want to make sure they recognize the importance of going on to a college to get themselves prepared for the next steps in life.”

As Woodson celebrated the victory, Gray reflected on this being his last time handing out the championship trophy.

“It’s absolutely an incredible honor to be able to do this, to see the enthusiasm of the players, to see so many people turn out for this game,” he said. “It’s always a great crowd, and this was no different than years past. This is a part of my tradition, and no matter what title I have in the future, I’ll be at this game.”

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>