<![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 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:42:59 -0400 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:42:59 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Maureen McDonnell's Defense Rests in Corruption Trial]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:39:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/edt-453005582.jpg

The defense for Virginia's former first lady rested its case Wednesday afternoon in the public corruption trial against the former first couple of Virginia.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell's eldest daughter took the stand in her mother's defense Wednesday morning. Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky portrayed a difficult relationship between her parents as she grew up -- one that didn't improve over time -- and said her mother had a "mild obsession" with businessman Jonnie Williams.

While her father was in law school, her mother was waitressing with three children at home, Zubowsky said. "I just knew we didn't have much money."

Her mother would buy things and then hid them from her father "until the bill came, and then there'd be an argument," she said.

Zubowsky testified that her father was around less and less after he entered politics, and for him, "kids were a priority and my mom came last."

To cope, her mother would drink and take long baths, Zubowsky told jurors. "I think she was depressed, so she'd try to escape," she said.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are accused of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from Williams, then the CEO of Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.

Defense attorneys have suggested the couple could not have conspired to provide special favors to Williams while McDonnell was in office because their marriage was crumbling and they were barely talking.

Zubowsky said her parents struggled after entering the political spotlight. "I think they thought they were ready.... The fantasy of what they thought it would be like was a lot easier to accept than the reality....," she said.

Zubowsky testified she watched communication between her parents decrease and arguments escalate.

On a vacation at Camp Pendleton, after a fight between her parents, her father confided in her about her parents' relationship, something that had never happened before.

"He actually opened up and said, 'I don't know what do do anymore. I can't make her happy anymore. I don't know what to do'.... It was a new low he reached," said Zubowsky, who is expecting the McDonnells' first grandchild.

She said during frequent fights between her parents, her mother would always raise her voice. "I've never in my whole life seen him raise his voice," she said of her father.

During a break, her mother cried and supporters consoled her, and her father appeared to wipe a tear from his eye, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reported.

She also testified that her mother had a "mild obsession" with Williams.

When asked if Williams and her mother were good friends, Zubowsky said yes. When asked if they were business associates, she said no.

Among the gifts, trips and loans Williams lavished on the family was a $10,000 monetary wedding gift to Zubowsky.

Asked when she returned the money, Zubowsky had an icy reply: "When I realized Jonnie himself was a criminal."

Prosecutors immediately objected.

"As a defense attorney that is what you hope for, because for all intents and purposes the question was asked, the answer was given, and while there was an objection, the answer was already out there, and the adage that you can't unring that bell certainly proves true," said lawyer Charles James, who was observing the trial.

Zubowsky was also asked about a tool shower held for her soon-to-be husband, Adam Zubowsky, in October 2012. She said that when her mother arrived at the event, she explained that Williams wanted to give the couple a special gift but couldn't attend because his wife was ill.

Zubowsky said Williams called during the party and, over speakerphone, informed her that he wanted to get a generator for the young couple. Some days later, a Michael & Son contractor called to say he wanted to take measurements for a full house generator.

Zubowsky said her reaction was, "What kind of generator is this?"

She said she'd expected the gift would be a small generator from Home Depot or Lowe's. But after the contractor visit, Zubowsky said Williams' administrative assistant called to explain the logistics were too complicated and that Williams would send a $10,000 check instead.

What was her reaction to a check of that amount?

"I was overwhelmed. I thought that was a very large amount of money but we also put it in perspective," she said, explaining that she knew Williams was wealthy and that he had planned to fly in his private jet to the tool shower, which would cost more than $10,000.

She said the couple deposited the check into a savings account and never touched it until they decided to return the money.

The prosecution later asked Zubowsky whether it was right for her family to take the gifts, asking, "Isn't it true ... that you thought it was overboard and a little inappropriate for your family members to be taking these things?"

"Yes," she said.

Lawyers for the couple wrapped up their case Wednesday. Prosecutors called two rebuttal witnesses and could call another Thursday. Closing arguments could come Friday.

Earlier Wednesday, Maureen McDonnell's friend April Niamtu became the first wtiness to testify in Maureen's defense.

Niamtu told jurors that when she and Maureen met in 2009, Maureen was "passionate" about nutraceuticals.

Maureen McDonnell's attorney is trying to show that the former first lady of Virginia had an affinity for healthcare products and suggesting them to friends, and that she wasn't only focusing on Williams' products.

On Wednesday morning, defense for Bob McDonnell rested. The former governor testified in his own defense for more than four days, but Maureen McDonnell's lawyer said the former first lady's case should take about three hours.

Once it wraps up, that will leave only closing arguments and instructions from the judge before the case goes to the jury.

Bob McDonnell wrapped up his time on the witness stand Tuesday by acknowledging using bad judgment, but firmly denied criminal wrongdoing.

The prosecution grilled McDonnell on the specific timeline of when he received the gifts and loans from Williams, trying to make the case that it lines up with McDonnell promoting Williams' company and its tobacco-based supplement Anatabloc.

But on the stand, McDonnell was adamant that the money he received from Williams in 2012 was in the form of loans for MoBo, the small real estate company he owned with his sister -- not for him personally and not in exchange for favors.

McDonnell got stern at times, telling the prosecutor, "If you're suggesting that I got a $50,000 loan for MoBo in order that I get Mr. Williams' calls returned then you're completely off base."

The prosecutor responded, "No sir, that's not what I'm suggesting."

McDonnell insists the loan from Williams was a business transaction between friends, not payback for his help in promoting Anatabloc.

Prosecutor Michael Dry asked point blank, "You knew that March 6, 2012, loan was really a personal loan to you?"

McDonnell replied loudly, angrily: "Mr. Dry, that is absolutely false! It is a loan to MoBo."

A harsh portrait of Maureen McDonnell has emerged through weeks of testimony. Former governor's mansion staff members have said that she was quick to anger and seemed uncomfortable in her role as first lady.

As he entered the federal courthouse in Richmond last week, Bob McDonnell said seeing that portrayal of Maureen was "very difficult." 

He told reporters, "No one likes to talk about their marriage in front of the entire country, but this is part of the case." McDonnell also testified that he moved out of the home he had shared with Maureen the week before the trial.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: The Washington Post]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Nothing’s Out of Bounds...]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:56:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/classroom5.jpg

If there were any doubt that schools would be a significant issue in this year’s mayor’s race, Monday cleared that up.

Using opening day of the new school year as a backdrop, independent mayoral candidate David Catania threw more cold water on the plan to redraw school boundaries for the first time in 40 years.

He said that, despite hard work by a lot of people, he thinks the boundary change will send too many students to lower-performing schools. Even if you like the school boundary changes — and many don’t — Catania said he didn’t think the school bureaucracy could handle the change in time for the school year that starts just 12 months from now.

“For these reasons, among others, I intend to take action to delay implementation of the [boundary changes] until at least school year 2016-2017,” the chair of the council’s Education Committee said in his announcement. That’s two years from now.

As of Monday night, Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser had not weighed in on the final boundary plan that Mayor Vincent Gray announced Aug. 21.

Last spring, Bowser initially said the Gray proposal, still under development, contained some “very good ideas.” Some parents and others reacted badly to that proposal, disliking the cluster plans and lotteries included. A few days later Bowser clarified that she would support only “neighborhood school assignment.”

As Catania has sought to make schools a focus of his campaign, Bowser also has changed positions on whether she would commit to retaining Chancellor Kaya Henderson. The Ward 4 council member initially said she would not discuss potential appointees until winning the mayor’s race. But in June, Bowser told supporters she would keep Henderson.

Catania has praised Henderson but has kept to his position that he won’t discuss jobs unless and until the people give him the job as mayor. Catania reiterated that last week when he was asked about another popular official, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier.

But Catania has made school reform his central issue. Although only a fraction of voters have children in the public or charter schools, they tend to be very active in their communities.

In a move that his critics call overtly political, Catania has spent the past 18 months visiting 144 of the city’s nearly 200 schools. Catania meets with students, parents and school officials. At the very least, it provides him with a heck of a contact list. Although Catania seems to be outflanking Bowser on education, she’s not standing still. Her website says, “Improving our school system remains the single most important thing we have to do as a city.” She says there is a “crisis” in the middle schools.

While Catania passed legislation directing $80 million to schools with more at-risk students — a break in the long-used per pupil formula that treated every student the same — Bowser backed free Metro rides to eliminate one reason children don’t get to school.

Independent Carol Schwartz issued a statement praising the thrust of the latest school boundary plan while criticizing parts of it. Neither she nor Bowser has joined Catania’s call for delay.

However school reform shakes out in this campaign, you can expect to hear a great deal about it — and nothing’s out of bounds. We’ve come a long way from the control board era and its stumbling effort at school repair in the 1990s. Mayors Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty really got the school reform movement going, and Mayor Gray has embraced it, too.

The next mayor will have no choice. It’s just a question of how aggressive that mayor will be.

■ Looking up, up, up. Although official numbers will come later, Chancellor Henderson was touting a great first day of school on Monday.

“We are going big this year,” Henderson said in stats-filled statement that said initial enrollment of about 47,000 students is the highest in five years. Charter schools account for about 38,000 other students.

Henderson noted the school system has instituted a host of classroom-level improvements. In part, she said, the schools have hired an additional 300 teachers, 29 new counselors, 24 new librarians, 13 social workers and six new coaches. (We’re sure there’s a partridge in a pear tree somewhere in there, too.)

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

<![CDATA[School Boundary Changes Not Ready: Two Mayoral Candidates]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:14:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Woodrow+Wilson+HIgh+School+DC.jpg

The two leading candidates for mayor in Washington, D.C. say the plan to change school boundaries for the first time in 40 years is moving too fast.

Current D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has worked on the plan for more than a year.

"We're going to continue to work with the community, let people know what's fully in this plan," Gray said. 

Council member Muriel Bowser, the Democratic nominee for mayor, believes Gray's plan is "not ready" and will "exacerbate educational inequality."

"It lacks the necessary budgetary and leadership commitments to bring about a truly fair neighborhood school assignment policy. I cannot accept these recommendations," Bowser said in a statement released Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Council member David Catania, chairman of the council education committee and an independent candidate for mayor, announced Monday that he would seek to block the changes, adding that too many schools are unprepared for the boundary changes that are to take effect in September 2015.

"There are a whole lot of unanswered questions and additional work that needs to be done," Catania said. "You're essentially sending some schools up to fail by virtue of how these schools are being rearranged."

Catania said he may seek legislation postponing the changes until 2016 or later if necessary.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Catania Wants to Delay School Boundary Changes]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:09:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Woodrow+Wilson+HIgh+School+DC.jpg

A key D.C. Council member said he’ll seek to block the first change in city school boundaries in 40 years.

Council member David Catania, chairman of the council education committee and an independent candidate for mayor, said school officials and too many schools are unprepared for the boundary changes that are to take effect in September 2015.

“I have maintained all along that I cannot support a plan that moves students from higher performing schools to lower performing ones,” read a statement from Catania. “Yet the final recommendations do just that. In addition, the recommendations are silent as to how we intend to improve those lower performing schools. Asking parents and guardians to take this leap of faith without more is asking too much.”

Catania said he may seek legislation postponing the changes until 2016 or later if necessary.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ed Gillespie Touts Blue-Collar Roots in New Ad]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:07:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-08-22_1405.jpg In a new ad, U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie touts his blue-collar roots. Gillespie, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Senator Mark Warner. NBC's Senior Political Editor Mark Murray has more.]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Seeing and Saying Something…]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:34:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP4155984214871.jpg

Americans since 9/11 have been urged by their federal and local governments to maintain a fear of terrorism and be sure to remember, “If you see something, say something.”

Well, a lot of people are seeing and saying something about Ferguson, Mo.

Not the least of these is the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon.

"All of us were thunderstruck by the pictures we saw, I mean, the over-militarization, the MRAPs rolling in, the guns pointed at kids in the street," the governor said on ABC News this weekend. (MRAPs are "mine-resistant, ambush-protected" military armored trucks.) The governor said the military-style show of force "instead of ratcheting down, brought emotion up."

The incident that sparked the protests, the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, is still being sorted out, but it is clear even to police that the man was not armed.

What’s not in question for millions of Americans now is that we have turned our local police forces across the nation into military combat units. Police always have been paramilitary organizations, but you can drop "para" now.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, quoted in The New York Times, said: "At a time we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message."

National conservatives like former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and many others are raising questions about the militarization. The left and right both seem appalled.

Erich Pratt, spokesperson for the conservative Gun Owners of America, was quoted on the website The Moderate Voice as asking, "Why are those guns available to the police? We don’t technically have the military operating within our borders, but they’re being given the gear to basically operate in that capacity."

The website also reported, "Gun Owners of America and the ACLU are both backing a forthcoming bill from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that would curtail the sale of [U.S. Defense Department] weapons to local police departments."

A detailed full accounting is not available to tell us how much military equipment has been transferred to local and state governments by the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security grants, often for pennies on the dollar.

But various groups say we are well into the tens of billions of dollars. The military-industrial complex has discovered your local police as another marketing opportunity. Newsweek magazine — yes, it’s still in business — details the militarization online here.

On NBC’s "Meet the Press," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it would be "very unusual" for her city’s police to use military equipment "against [our] own citizens." Rawlings-Blake cited the restrained reaction to Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, saying units were intent on being "judicious in the use of force."

All that money, all that fearmongering, all that hyper-preparedness certainly offers no similarity to the folks who used to be our first line of defense, the local guy we once knew as "Officer Friendly." Police who really are part of the community don’t need to arm themselves as an invading force. If they do, they’ve already lost the battle.

As one article put it, when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

■ Media under attack. The news media is not the most-liked profession in the country, with most everyone having a say about its shortcomings, prejudices and personalities.

But it’s still unusual for reporters to face the kind of police resistance they have encountered in Ferguson. A Washington Post reporter and others were rousted and arrested as they sat peacefully in a McDonald’s, filing reports and charging their phones and other electronic gear.

The Post reporter, Wesley Lowery, said he really got worried when one officer said, "OK, let’s take him."

There have been a variety of reports that police ordered some reporters to turn off cameras, and fired smoke bombs toward media crews as well as protesters.

In disturbance situations, it’s not always clear who is right or wrong, and certainly members of the media don’t always comport with reasonable requests to remain out of the way of police officers.

Your Notebook has had his own standoffs with police officers, but we’re always conscious of the difficulty of police work.

Public safety and First Amendment rights aren’t in conflict; they have to coexist. It’s part of police training, and riot or near-riot situations are no time for renegade reporters or cowboy cops.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Police Union Endorses David Catania for Mayor]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:17:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/david-catania1.jpg

D.C. mayoral candidate David Catania (I) picked up a valuable endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police this week.

Most unions have been siding with Democrat Muriel Bowser -- most recently, she got the support of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, which represents about 175 local unions in the region.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which represents about 3,500 officers, announced their endorsement of Catania Wednesday morning.

In related news, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who has been on the job since 1997, told News4 Wednesday she would like to stay on as chief.

Bowser has said she would retain Lanier, and sources say Catania plans to do the same.

"I've always had a very productive and constructive relationship with Chief Lanier. She and I have a warm personal relationship," Catania said. 

Carol Schwartz, also an Independent candidate for mayor, announced Tuesday night she's disappointed in the union's endorsement of Catania.

“I had carried the banner of the FOP in the past with pride, but do know from conversations with several individual police officers that the only way anyone could have gotten their endorsement this time was to pledge that he or she would get rid of Chief of Police Cathy Lanier. I guess it all worked out okay because I would not have taken that pledge," Schwartz said in a statement. 

The FOP has clashed with Lanier over work assignments and pay, but its representatives say Schwartz is wrong.

"She's flat-out wrong. We have no idea where she got that information from," FOP Chairman Delroy Burton said.

Photo Credit: File Photo ]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Briefly Returns From Vacation]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:43:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007549623_1200x675_319114307796.jpg NBC's Senior Political Editor Mark Murray explains why President Obama has briefly returned from his vacation. He also explains how Texas Gov. Rick Perry might be affected by his indictment.]]> <![CDATA[Conversation Evolving on Gay Marriage]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:52:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-08-14_1349.jpg NBC News political reporter Carrie Dann explains how the political discussion of gay marriage has changed. She also explores the president's response to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.]]> <![CDATA[Park Southern Complex Remains Issue in D.C. Mayor's Race]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 21:15:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-16_1555.jpg

A run-down apartment building in southeast Washington reemerged as an issue in the district’s mayoral race.

This time it involves new questions about campaign contributions and efforts to save the complex from more deterioration.

“The building has fallen into serious disrepair,” Senior Counsel to the Attorney General Ariel Levinson-Waldman said Wednesday.

The D.C. Attorney General’s Office said it went to court this week to seek a new buyer for the low-income Park Southern complex on Southern Avenue SE. More than 700 tenants live in rat- and roach-infested apartments with major structural problems and front office mismanagement.

The city lawyer spoke at Mayor Vincent Gray’s biweekly news conference. Gray also repeated his suggestion that the D.C. Council hold a hearing on the mismanagement.

That’s where the city politics come in.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser is chairman of the housing committee and the Democratic nominee for mayor. The building’s managers, who were displaced this past spring, are big Bowser supporters. One management official, Phinis Jones, has given Bowser about $20,000 in campaign contributions from a group of management companies he owns.

After a series of articles in The Washington Post about the complex and her political support from the discredited management, Bowser asked for an inspector general investigation which is just now getting underway.

But Bowser declined to hold a hearing or to return the $20,000 in contributions. Bowser this week reported raising more than $1 million so far for the Nov. 4 election.

This week the editorial pages of the weekly Current Newspapers urged Bowser to refund the $20,000, writing that the contribution in the apartment controversy “doesn’t smell great.”

And Wednesday, independent mayoral candidate David Catania renewed his call for Bower to hold a hearing despite its impact on her political supporters. And Catania called again for Bowser to return the $20,000.

“It’s time for Ms. Bowser to hold a hearing, come clean, return the money,” Catania said as he stood across from the Bowser billboard on Martin Luther King Ave. SE. Catania said Bowser has done little to assure that the tenants get better services and support.

Bowser’s campaign, which has more than doubled Catania’s contributions, suggested Catania’s campaign is “in panic mode.”

"After his dismal fundraising efforts,” Bowser campaign spokesperson Joaquin McPeek said, “Mr. Catania's latest stunt reeks of desperation and is a sign of a campaign in panic mode.”

McPeek said that, "Unlike Mr. Catania, Council member Bowser has completely removed mayoral politics from the Park Southern issue and instead taken the appropriate measures to refer this to the independent Inspector General.”

McPeek said Bowser supports the attorney general’s efforts to find a more suitable buyer to “ensure no displacement of tenants” and to preserve the building’s affordability.

News4 attempted to talk with Phinis Jones at his Capitol Services Management offices, but no one who could be seen inside came to the door. One person who left the offices shielded his face from our cameras and sped off on Martin Luther King Avenue after making an abrupt U-turn.

<![CDATA[Bowser Extends Money Lead Over D.C. Mayoral Rivals]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:31:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/muriel+bowser+portrait.jpg

Councilmember Muriel Bowser has widened her fundraising advantage over her rivals in the D.C. mayor's race.

Bowser, the Democratic nominee, has more than $1 million to spend between now and November.


She reported raising $511,000 in her most recent financial report, which was filed late Monday. For her entire campaign, she's raised $2.7 million, and has just over $1 million in cash on hand.

Bowser defeated Mayor Vincent Gray in the April Democratic primary. The Democratic nominee has gone on to win every mayoral election in the District.

Councilmember David Catania, an independent, raised $221,000 over the past two months. He has $463,000 left to spend.

Independent former councilmember Carol Schwartz brought in $65,000, more than half of which she lent to the campaign herself.

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: The Mayoral Campaign…Cleaning Up]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 07:38:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/210*120/AP134851027425.jpg

Union leaders on Monday milled about in front of the imposing headquarters of the AFL-CIO on 16th Street, a strip of yellow “caution” tape warding off any vehicles that might try to pull onto the expansive driveway.

From a small platform off to one side, organized labor put down its marker on the 2014 mayor’s race here in the District.

“Muriel Bowser represents the best choice for working people in the District of Columbia,” declared Joslyn Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO since 1982. The council represents about 175 local unions in the region and about 150,000 union workers in our area.

Labor officials estimate that about 40,000 union workers are registered to vote in the District. But they also acknowledge they rarely vote in a bloc.

In the April 1 Democratic Primary this past spring, many unions, especially public service unions, endorsed incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray. But the executive council headed by Williams declined to endorse anyone, including Bowser. Gray lost badly to Bowser in the Democratic primary.

Union officials said the Bowser endorsement on Monday was predictable. While Bowser didn’t win the endorsement in April, the unions are mostly Democrats like Bowser, and she is widely seen as the likely November winner. But even some supporters say she is not a shoo-in. Independents David Catania and Carol Schwartz have some modest union credentials of their own, according to labor questionnaires.

“There’s some enthusiasm for Bowser, but not too much,” one union veteran of city politics said on background so he could speak freely. “We think she’s going to win and [the unions] want to be with a winner.” He acknowledged this general election, unlike most November contests for mayor, is a bit uncertain.

Catania is a veteran at-large D.C. Council member who has made some but not nearly enough inroads yet to block the presumptive Bowser victory. Schwartz, who got into the race late, is a veteran public official even though she last served on the council in 2008 and must reintroduce herself to many voters.

■ Housekeeper for a day. Bowser used the union endorsement on Monday to try to burnish her common touch.

At the union event, Bowser was smiling, hugging and glad-handing everyone. She proudly noted that she was the product of two hard-working parents. And she said she recently met with a group of hotel housekeepers who work for the Marriott Marquis, the convention center hotel that recently opened.

“They challenged me to do something, to be a housekeeper for a day,” Bowser said during her speech. “They didn’t think I could handle it and I probably can’t for the whole day,” she said, laughing. “But I’m going to stand with them.”

Campaign aides said Bowser likely would do the day of work next month, closer to the election and when the hotel is busier. “August is the worst — it’s empty,” said one hotel leader. Bowser is expected to eat breakfast with one of the women and her children, ride the bus to the hotel and help make beds and clean rooms.

Bowser said she would “work side by side to see how their life is.”

During the primary campaign, mayoral candidate Tommy Wells, a Ward 6 council member, lived a week on the minimum wage to demonstrate how tough that can be. Back in 1994, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt running for re-election worked part of a day as a waitress on Georgia Avenue to demonstrate her connection to workers. (Wells and Pratt lost.)

■ Money, money, money. Just before midnight Monday, Democrat Bowser weighed in with her latest campaign finance report, disclosing she has $1,026,632 on hand. That makes her the only million-dollar candidate in this race. In an attached statement, Bowser campaign finance chair Bill Lightfoot said that residents of the District “want an independent, trustworthy and honest mayor.”

Catania, who has questioned Bowser on all three of those qualities, earlier reported $464,983 campaign cash on hand, less than half Bowser’s total. Catania’s campaign says its goal is to reach close to $1 million before the campaign ends — enough, his aides say, to run a credible campaign. (Adrian Fenty raised $5 million in 2010 but still lost.)

Schwartz reported only about $65,000, of which $30,000 is a loan from herself. Schwartz says she is proud that her campaign is mostly run by volunteers who helped her get about 6,500 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. Schwartz has said she will be sending out some campaign fundraising letters but is not expecting a well-funded effort in this, her fifth campaign for mayor.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Primary Day in Three States]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 14:47:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007489074_1200x675_317473347854.jpg Tuesday is primary day in Wisconsin, Connecticut and Minnesota, where the winner will face Sen. Al Franken. What can we expect from that race? NBC News political reporter Carrie Dann offers insight.]]> <![CDATA[Bowser to Spend Day as Hotel Housekeeper]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 09:05:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/BowserHotel.jpg

Most politicians promise to make change, but D.C. mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser has promised to make beds.

Bowser announced Monday that she will spend a day working as a housekeeper at the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown D.C. in support of the city's workers.

Bowser said she plans to make her hotel debut next month and that she got the idea when she met a group of unionized workers from the hotel.

"They challenged me to do something, to be a housekeeper for a day," Bowser said. "They didn't think I could handle it and I probably can't for the whole day. But I'm going to stand with them."

Bowser is a two-term council member. Her announcement came after she received the endorsement of the Metropolitan Washington Council, which represents an umbrella group of unions in D.C.

Joslyn Williams, president of the organization, praised Bowser.

"Muriel Bowser represents the best choice for working people in the District of Columbia," Williams said.

The unions endorsed Bowser after considering her opponents David Catania and Carol Schwartz. Neither candidate offered comment on Bowser's endorsement.

Bowser and her opponents will report their fundraising totals this week, which can be a good indication of the strength of their campaigns.

Photo Credit: News4]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: Iraq Is Not a Short-Term Problem]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:30:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-08-11_1228.jpg NBC Political Correspondent Carrie Dann discusses President Barack Obama's remarks on Iraq and Hillary Clinton's criticism of his foreign policy.]]> <![CDATA[Franchot Wants Schools to Start After Labor Day]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 09:59:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maryland+Comptroller+Peter+Franchot.jpg

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot doesn't want your kids to go back to school until after Labor Day.

According to The Washington Post, Franchot plans to launch a petition on the matter next week. He said the after labor start would be good for both the stats economy and families.

Local school boards aren't crazy about the idea.

They said it wouldn't give teachers enough time to prepare for state mandated testing.

A state task force in May was in favor of requiring the state’s 24 school systems to push back their start date into September.

More from The Washington Post.

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<![CDATA[Charges in James Brady's Homicide Could Prove Tough]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:00:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/__TZ1_JAMES_BRADY_DEATH_KNSD4K45_1200x675_316776003820.jpg

Trying to bring a case against John Hinckley Jr. in the homicide of former White House press secretary James Brady could prove difficult for prosecutors, given the three decades that have passed since he was shot in an assassination try on Ronald Reagan and because a jury ruled that Hinckley was insane when he opened fire, an attorney and law professor said.

A medical examiner determined that Monday's death of Brady at age 73 was a homicide, even all these years later, with an autopsy revealing the cause to be the gunshot wound to the head he suffered in 1981 and its health consequences, District of Columbia police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said in a news release Friday.

Federal prosecutors said only that they are reviewing the ruling. But bringing new charges against the 59-year-old in Brady's death seemed unlikely, at least two people said.

"I think it (the medical examiner's ruling) will mean nothing,'' long-time Hinckley attorney Barry Levine told The Associated Press. "No prosecutors will bring such a case. The notion that this could be a successful prosecution is far-fetched. There is no legal basis to pursue this.''

Brady lived through hours of delicate surgery right after the shooting and further operations over the past 33 years, but never regained normal use of his limbs and was often in a wheelchair.

Besides partial paralysis from brain damage, Brady suffered short-term memory impairment, slurred speech and constant pain, though it didn't stop his pursuit of stronger gun control laws. His family said he died at his Virginia home from a series of health issues. Nancy Bull, district administrator for the Virginia medical examiner's office, which made the ruling, declined to disclose any more results of the autopsy and referred inquiries to District police.

Tung Yin, a professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, said Friday that it's rare that the act that could be considered the cause of a murder occurred so long ago.

"It seems a little bit unprecedented,'' Yin said of the Virginia medical examiner's ruling. He said such cases more likely involve a person in a coma who dies some time later.

He said bringing such a case could cause problems for prosecutors, because Hinckley Jr. was found was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

"A jury has already concluded on the same incident that he (Hinckley Jr.) was not guilty. Nothing today changes that,'' Yin said, even if prosecutors say Hinckley is no longer insane. "That doesn't change what he was 33 years ago.''

Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981, just two months into the new president's term. Reagan nearly died from a chest wound. Three others, including Brady, were struck by bullets from Hinckley's handgun.

In 1982, Hinckley Jr. the insanity verdict came for all charges in a 13-count indictment, including federal counts of attempted assassination of the president of the United States, assault on a federal officer, and use of a firearm in the commission of a federal offense, as well as District of Columbia offenses of attempted murder, assault, and weapons charges. The District of Columbia offenses included charges related to the shooting of Brady.

Levine said prosecutors would have the additional challenge of proving that Brady's death this week was the result of an act 33 years ago. "How do you prove causation beyond a reasonable doubt?'' he asked.

Gail Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Brady's family, said the homicide ruling "is not a surprise to any of us.'' She said the family would respect whatever prosecutors think is appropriate in dealing with the ruling.

Levine said that Hinckley wanted to express his deep sympathy for Brady's family. "He has the highest regard for (James) Brady,'' he said.

Officials at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, where Hinckley is a patient, have said that the mental illness that led him to shoot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster has been in remission for decades. Hinckley has been allowed to leave the hospital to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia, and can now spend more than half of his time outside the hospital on such visits.

Levine doesn't expect the homicide ruling to affect Hinckley continuing to be allowed to continue the visits.

"The court has found he has regained his mental health,'' Levine said.

<![CDATA[U.S. Strikes Islamic Militants]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:43:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007453648_1200x675_316506179773.jpg NBC Political Correspondent Carrie Dann discusses the U.S.'s targeted airstrikes against ISIS early on Friday. President Obama has been criticized for waiting so long to act. ]]>