<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usSat, 23 Jul 2016 19:10:27 -0400Sat, 23 Jul 2016 19:10:27 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Clinton 'Thrilled' With VP Pick Tim Kaine]]> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 10:00:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16196751572126.jpg

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton's pick to become the next vice president of the United States, Clinton told supporters Friday evening.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a text message Friday evening she was "thrilled" to share that she has selected Kaine as her running mate. 

His guiding principle is "the belief that you can make a difference through public service," Clinton's Twitter account said.  

A steady Clinton surrogate in recent campaign appearances, Kaine was at a fundraiser in Newport, Rhode Island, Friday night when the announcement was made. He is honored to be Clinton's running mate, he tweeted soon after the news broke.

"Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!" he said.

Republican nominee Donald Trump sought to incite rage among Bernie Sanders supporters over Clinton's pick, tweeting that Kaine represents the opposite of what the Vermont senator stood for, "Philly fight?"

In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Trump said Clinton didn't chose Sen. Elizabeth Warren because "she hates her," alleged Kaine is "owned by banks" and, citing the newly leaked DNC emails, said the party planned to "destroy Bernie Sanders. Mock his heritage and much more. On-line from Wikileakes, really vicious. RIGGED." 

The swing state's former governor, a current member of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, has the national security experience Clinton is said to have been seeking, observers said.

Pundits and Kaine supporters have said the senator's experience and moderate positions make him an ideal choice.

"Senator Kaine's judgment, experience and values make him an excellent complement to the Democratic ticket, and he will be a strong partner to President Hillary Clinton in the White House," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday evening. 

The former Virginia governor complements Clinton, Democratic donor Glen Fukushima told CNN.

"He has a business sense and international experience [and] speaks Spanish, which are both pluses," he said. "He also has experience as a governor, which could complement Hillary's background."

Kaine, 58, "has a lot going for him," Rep. Gerry Connolly told CNN.

"He's Catholic, from a swing state, successful governor, speaks fluent Spanish, has political chops, was the head of the [Democratic National Committee]," he told the television network. "He provides a lot of talent to the ticket and could step in and could certainly be an heir apparent." 

"I can say there is no one of higher integrity and trustworthiness," said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

"His experience, intellect and dedication to making life better for people from all walks of life will make him an enormous asset to Secretary Clinton throughout the remainder of this campaign and as a leader in her administration over the next four years," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said. "This is a proud day for every Virginian."

Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell expressed for Kaine while taking the opportunity to attack Clinton. 

"His character makes it all the more surprising that he would sign up to defend Hillary Clinton for the next three-and-a-half months," he said in a statement. "However, Sen. Kaine's selection as the vice presidential nominee does not change that this election is ultimately a referendum on Secretary Clinton." 

Kaine touts his work to reduce unemployment among veterans, to block any Iran nuclear weapons program, to recognize American Indian tribes in Virginia, to preserve Civil War battlegrounds and to improve access to job-training programs.

Kaine, who attended University of Missouri and Harvard Law School, speaks Spanish fluently after taking a year off from attending Harvard to work at a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, his Senate website says.

But critics have called Kaine a safe, even boring, running mate.

When asked by Charlie Rose of PBS on Monday whether Kaine was a boring choice, Clinton said, “I love that about him.” 

Kaine was even asked about being boring on NBC's "Meet the Press" in June, one of his highest-profile appearances in what was evidently his vetting process. Kaine brushed it off with a joke: "I am boring … but boring is the fastest-growing demographic in this country."

What Does Kaine Bring to the Table?
Kaine, who was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was first elected to office in 1994. He served as a city councilman and then was elected mayor of Richmond. He became lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2002, was inaugurated as governor in 2006 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. He serves on the aging, armed services, budget and Senate foreign relations committees. 

Newsweek previously called Kaine "the conventional wisdom pick" for Clinton's running mate and tied his chances of being selected with those of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

Kaine will not energize the party's progressive wing, however, Newsweek argued.

"Kaine ... voted to fast-track President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that angered most of the left. And his views on abortion are to the right of many Democrats: he’s a practicing Catholic who supported parental consent and informed consent laws in his state. And, Sanders aside, old white guys just don't excite voters like they used to," the publication wrote.

Kaine is personally opposed to abortion but has said he is against overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure. Beyond supporting requiring parental consent, he also was in favor of banning late-term abortions unless a woman’s life is at risk, and he has promoted abstinence-focused education to try to decrease the number of pregnancies that end in abortion. In the past, the state NARAL chapter refused to endorse him. 

Kaine was on President Barack Obama’s short-list for vice president, according to Politico.

He teamed up with Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to introduce legislation to authorize military force against the Islamic State. 

What Has Kaine Said About Wanting to Be VP?
On Thursday in Virginia, Kaine had downplayed speculation he would be Clinton's pick. 

"I'm in a little, momentary bubble of attention. It will be normal again," he told NBC Washington's David Culver

In March, Kaine also demurred about whether he wanted to be vice president.

"Well, I'm a happy senator and I like my job, and I'm not looking for another one, but, look, my best use is helping Secretary Clinton -- especially win Virginia," he said March 10 to a group of Hispanic and African-American publishers at the National Press Club.

The senator echoed those comments on April 29, saying he would accompany Clinton at her inauguration as a senator, not as her vice president, Politico reported.

"You know, I really love my job. I really do," Kaine reportedly said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe. "And I have a great feeling that I'm going to be on that podium with Hillary Clinton when she's taking the oath of office, but I'm going to be sitting with the other senators."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Tim Kaine Supporters Prepare for Dem. VP Announcement]]> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 19:03:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/072216+clinton+kaine+buttons.jpg Supporters of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine were making campaign buttons with Kaine's face alongside Clinton's on Friday in the hope he would be her pick for running mate. News4's Julie Carey reports on why they say Kaine would be an excellent choice. "To underestimate him is to do so at your own peril. He has put away some big figures in Virginia politics," Rep. Gerry Connolly said.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[A Look at the DC Murder Statistic Trump Cited]]> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 18:30:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-578666050.jpg

The murder rate in Washington, D.C. is down 9 percent if you look at the data one way, but up 54 percent if you take another view.

As Donald Trump declared himself "the law and order candidate" in his GOP nomination acceptance speech Thursday night, he called out the number of homicides in D.C.

"In our nation's capital, killings have risen by 50 percent," he said.

That's true if you compare the 2014 total to the 2015 total: 162 people died in homicides in D.C. in 2015, marking a 54 percent increase from the 105 people killed in 2014, Metropolitan Police Department statistics show.

More people were killed in D.C. in 2015 than had been killed in a single year since 2008.

But the number of homicides in D.C. this year so far has dropped 9 percent compared with the same period last year, from 77 to 70, police data shows. 

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Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke with News4 about crime Friday afternoon, standing in front of the Old Post Office Pavilion building that Trump is renovating into a luxury hotel. 

"Political cheap shots are not uncommon, and so, what I want to be clear about is that nobody comes to D.C. to cherry-pick the numbers," she said. 

Bowser said there is no one answer to why crime spiked in 2015 but that District officials have created multiple programs to try to reduce violence.

"I just launched a new initiative, for example, to attract more police officers who are D.C. residents, and by expanding our cadet program," she said. "We also worked with our communities to put out 1,200 security cameras."


On Thursday night, Bowser issued this comment on Trump's remarks: "People all over the globe are flocking to the District for opportunity. Mr. Trump should know: he's making a multimillion-dollar investment in revitalizing a hotel on one of our main boulevards.

"We know we can do even better, and that's why each and every day, our residents and police officers work together to drive down crime. Americans deserve a president who will make herself a part of the solution."

Trump also spoke Thursday night about President Barack Obama's impact on the murder rate across the country.

"Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years," he said.

Trump correctly cited a 17 percent increase in homicides in major cities for 2014 to 2015, but the numbers of murders in these cities have dropped dramatically since the 1990s, FactCheck.org reported.

"Snapshots are not trends. And two or three years of data are far too few to establish a trend," Richard A. Berk, professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told FactCheck.org.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Disagreement Among Republicans at Convention Watch Parties]]> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 00:18:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015507781_1200x675_730076739758.jpg There were several Republican National Convention watch parties around the area Thursday night. News4’s Jackie Bensen talked to voters to see what they think about Donald Trump, and she found some disagreement among Republicans.]]> <![CDATA[Ben Carson Visits Virginia RNC Delegation Ahead of Trump Speech]]> Thu, 21 Jul 2016 21:17:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-577717170.jpg Dr. Ben Carson visited the Virginia RNC delegation ahead of Donald Trump's prime time speech pushing for party unity as local delegates talked about what they are hoping for from the party's presidential nominee. News4's Chris Lawrence and Tom Sherwood report from Cleveland.

Photo Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cuccinelli on Cruz RNC Speech]]> Thu, 21 Jul 2016 21:16:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015505584_1200x675_729903171542.jpg Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli describes what happened on the floor after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's non-endorsement of Donald Trump resulted in loud shouting and booing among the delegates. News4's Chris Lawrence reports.]]> <![CDATA[Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine Downplays VP Pick Speculation]]> Thu, 21 Jul 2016 18:59:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/072116+tim+kaine.jpg Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine again addressed speculation on Thursday that he may be Hillary Clinton's selection for vice presidential candidate. "I'm in a little, momentary bubble of attention. It will be normal again," he told News4's David Culver.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Jaffe: Murder Highlights Need for More, Not Less, Policing]]> Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:45:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/071116+seth+rich.jpg

Harry Jaffe, a longtime chronicler of the people and politics of Washington, D.C., writes an occasional column for NBC Washington's First Read DMV blog.

Three days after police found Seth Rich suffering from gunshot wounds at a corner in D.C.'s Bloomingdale neighborhood, a wilted bouquet marked the spot. That and an police scout car parked across thesa street were the only indication that another innocent Washingtonian had been gunned down on his way home in the nation’s capital.

Rich, 27 and a rising star with the Democratic National Committee, was D.C.’s 68th homicide for 2016.

Monday night, a week after the murder, police told a community meeting they had no leads. Neighbors had more than a few.

“Five armed robberies in the same few blocks, all with a silver pistol,” one told me before the meeting.

“There’s a crew that hangs out down the street at First and U, selling drugs and threatening people,” says another. “Cops will not shut them down.”

One resident said: “One of the robbers has ordered victims to go into the cloud and discharge the tracking of the phone. Very savvy.”

And very brazen.

The senseless murder of Seth Rich, which police are investigating as a robbery gone bad, puts into harsh light the colliding demands of policing in these times: Can police keep the peace in our still-dangerous streets without using excessive force against law-abiding people? In the case of Philando Castile in Minneapolis, that meant not shooting and killing him for apparently little reason. Here in Bloomingdale and other D.C. neighborhoods where crime is on the rise, that means catching killers loose in the streets.

Violent crime is up slightly, by 1 percent, in the District from a year ago, according to police data. An analysis by the Washington Post found armed robberies are up 20 percent. And last November a poll found crime was residents' number-one concern. 

Washington, D.C. is perhaps the most-policed city in the nation. There are at least 25 armed police agencies in and around the city, including officers for the FBI, Metro, Amtrak, Housing, Secret Service and, of course, the U.S. Mint. D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department is the largest, followed by the Capitol Police and the U.S. Park Police. It can seem as if we live in an armed camp.

Can police in the capital city show up in the next viral video of cops manhandling or shooting someone for questionable reasons? Of course. Remember Miriam Carey, the unarmed mother shot and killed by Capitol Police October, 2013, for driving erratically between the White House and the Capitol? Her family has filed a wrongful death suit against the government.

In February a D.C. cop shot and killed a man in Clay Terrace when he reached for a weapon that turned out to be a BB gun. On June 28 police were called to Varnum Street in Northeast where a man was holding a gun. They pleaded with him to drop it. When he raised it they shot and killed him. It, too, turned out to be a BB gun.

D.C. police said officers in both incidents were cleared and returned to duty.

Still, the chances of an incident similar to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, or Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge or Castile in Minnesota, happening here are slim. Based on my three decades covering the MPD, I believe we have a well-trained force where rules and regulations on the use of force are drilled into every street cop. The same holds true for nearby police departments in Maryland and Virginia. Arlington police are top notch. Prince George's County cops are well-trained. Same high standards hold true for Montgomery County.

If anything, police in D.C. are over-watched and ultra-disciplined. In 1990, following reports of excessive police shootings, then-Chief Charles Ramsey invited the Justice Department to establish a system to govern MPD use of force. Since then every time an officer applies force on duty — even roughly handcuffing a suspect — he or she must file a use of force report. Any slight violation of regulations can trigger discipline, from unpaid leave to termination.

With that punitive system hanging over their heads, many D.C. cops are wary about using force at all. They are less willing to exercise their police powers. Law enforcement specialists call the effect "de-policing," in which cops avoid taking action rather than face discipline for overusing force. FBI Director James Comey mentioned in May that the "viral video effect" from the Ferguson shooting might be discouraging cops from active police work. That’s de-policing, and it’s been a factor here for years.

DC police declined to respond to questions about de-policing. But veteran officer Russell Mullins, executive steward with the union, notes a change in cops on the street, especially among younger officers.

"I don't think it's reluctance," he said. "It's apprehension, not apprehension of being on TV but apprehension of doing the job. We can give recruits a gun and a uniform and teach them the skills, but we can’t give them the heart to do the job.

"You have to be authoritative, physically and verbally,” he said. "Policing is a contact sport."

Mullins along with other officers and residents also decry Chief Lanier’s decision to disband plainclothes vice units. They used to provide crucial intelligence about crimes likely to happen and likely suspects. They are now in a centralized unit.

Which brings us back to Bloomingdale and the sad tale of Seth Rich. Asked at Monday night’s community meeting why no plainclothes officers were deployed despite repeated requests, Commander William Fitzgerald said: "I don't have any access to plainclothes officers."

Seth Rich, a Nebraska native, moved to Bloomingdale two years ago and lived in a group house on First Street. He loved D.C. and his work for the DNC. Bloomingdale is in transition. Four-story brick homes that were crack houses six years ago now sell for $1.4 million. Moms walk dogs and push baby carriages up Flagler Place, where Rich was murdered. Bad things can happen after dark. Rich was walking home, perhaps from the Red Hen or Showtime Lounge around the corner. He didn’t make it. He was reportedly on the phone with his girlfriend when he was accosted and shot.

The challenge for D.C. police is not to avoid showing up in the next viral video. It’s aggressively policing neighborhoods like Bloomingdale and Eckington, Congress Heights and Clay Terrace, Chevy Chase and Georgetown.

At the corner of 2nd and Flagler, across from the Flagler Market, I talked to the two officers set up on the curb. Violence against cops was on their minds after an ex-military man, disturbed by police shooting black men, shot five officers in Dallas. Were they concerned?

“Inherent danger of the job,” one told me.

The essence of the job is still keeping the peace on the streets. In Bloomingdale and many parts of D.C., that peace has been shattered, not by aggressive cops but by the lack of them.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of family]]>
<![CDATA[Kaine Expects Clinton's VP Announcement After RNC]]> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 21:36:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015494042_1200x675_729070659673.jpg Sen. Tim Kaine, who is on HIllary Clinton's vice president short list, doesn't expect a decision to be announced until after the Republican National Convention.]]> <![CDATA[Virginia RNC Delegates Consider the Military Vote]]> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:02:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015493640_1200x675_728958531862.jpg One of the big focuses on the campaign trail has been defense spending and in Virginia, where 50 percent of federal funds for the commonwealth go to the military, the issue is a top priority. News4's Tom Sherwood reports from Cleveland.]]> <![CDATA[Va. Delegates Late for RNC Vote; DC Votes Overruled]]> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:25:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160719+Virginia+Delegation.jpg

As the roll call vote to nominate Donald Trump as the Republican candidate began Tuesday night, the seats of the Virginia delegation were empty when a statement was read against the actions of the party leaders on the previous day.

News4's Chris Lawrence said he was told the delegates were "in a meeting" and planned to support Trump. The delegates said they were at a meeting off-site and arrived late to the arena.

In addition, the District of Columbia delegation announced their 19 delegates should be split, 10 for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and nine for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. But according to GOP rules, all delegate votes were counted for the presumptive nominee.

Both Maryland and Virginia, who returned to the floor, later cast their delegate votes for Trump.

The votes came a day after GOP leaders approved rules for the convention over furious objections. Anti-Trump delegates had tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules, which to their dismay require delegates to vote for a nominee based on their state primaries and caucuses.

Despite what initially appeared to be a successful attempt to force a full vote, Republican leaders proceeded with a quick voice vote, and Trump's team declared the "dump Trump" movement vanquished.

Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia and one of the state's delegates, flung his credentials on the floor after the announcement Monday night.

"Look, I am proud of Virginia Republicans here today," he said to NBC News. "We stood together as a majority for the rule of law. I wish the RNC had followed the lead of its first commonwealth, the commonwealth of Virginia. It's really a sad day for them."

The Colorado delegation walked out of the proceedings on Monday. There have been indications they and other states may attempt to make a statement of protest during Tuesday’s roll call nomination vote.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

<![CDATA[D.C. Mayor Bowser Promotes Statehood at RNC]]> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 20:46:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Muriel-Bowser-AP_816174278725.jpg News4's Chris Lawrence has reaction from a local delegate to the fall out over Melania Trump's speech, that some believe lifted passages from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech. News4's Tom Sherwood explains why democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser traveled to Cleveland during the Republican National Convention.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Gov. Hogan Skips RNC]]> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 20:34:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015480145_1200x675_728149571524.jpg A prominent individual was missing from the Maryland delegation breakfast at the Republican National Convention Tuesday: Gov. Larry Hogan. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.]]> <![CDATA[RNC Seating: Location, Location, Location]]> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 19:51:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015480132_1200x675_728146499531.jpg News4's Tom Sherwood takes a look at the politics of seats at the Republican National Convention, where some states' delegates have much better views than others.]]> <![CDATA[Felons' Right-to-Vote Case Heads to Virginia Supreme Court]]> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 06:23:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160615+Terry+McAuliffe.jpg

The Virginia Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a Republican lawsuit trying to block more than 200,000 former felons in the state from voting in November.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday morning centered on whether the state's constitution allows governors to restore voting rights to ex-felons en masse or requires them to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Republican lawmakers who sued Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe say the governor clearly violated the constitution and ignored decades of practice with his April executive order.

McAuliffe says he's confident he's on firm legal ground. But he has said he will restore all roughly 206,000 former felons' political rights individually if he has to.

<![CDATA[GOP Governor Hopefuls at RNC's Virginia Delegation Breakfast]]> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 19:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015463142_1200x675_727377987780.jpg At least three potential GOP candidates for governor in Virginia made the rounds at the state's delegation breakfast on the first day of the Republican National Convention. As News4's Tom Sherwood reports, it's a sign they're looking beyond November.]]> <![CDATA[Virginia RNC Delegation Calls for Unity]]> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 19:45:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015463140_1200x675_727374915723.jpg Just hours before shouting broke on the floor of the Republican National Convention over the so-called "Dump Trump" movement's last efforts, members of the Virginia delegation met for a unity breakfast. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.]]> <![CDATA[Va. Delegate to RNC Hopes to Help Trump Latino Outreach]]> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 19:37:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015463131_1200x675_727374403522.jpg At the first Virginia delegation breakfast of the Republican National Convention, News4's Tom Sherwood caught up with a Loudoun County delegate who is hoping to help court Latino voters for Donald Trump.]]> <![CDATA[Ex-DC Official to Pay $220,000 in Unpaid Taxes]]> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 17:25:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/070116+warren+graves.jpg

A former city official who worked with three Washington, D.C. mayors pleaded guilty Monday to filing a false tax return and cheating the government out of more than $220,000.

Warren Graves -- who served as chief of staff to former D.C. City Administrator Allen Lew and worked with mayors Marion Barry, Vincent Gray and Anthony Williams -- likely will face one year to 18 months of incarceration, federal prosecutors said Monday afternoon. News4 was first to report on the charges against him.

Graves, 63, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under a plea agreement, he will pay the U.S. Department of the Treasury $220,987. That's the amount prosecutors say he owes after he under-reported his earnings by more than $500,000 from 2009 to 2013.

Graves' lawyers did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

Federal prosecutors, in their court filings, said Graves misrepresented his annual pay in a 2009 Form 1040 filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

“The 2009 Form 1040, which was prepared and signed in the District of Columbia and filed with the Internal Revenue Service, stated that Defendant’s taxable income was $140,556, whereas, he then and there knew his taxable income was $368,937, the court filing says.

Prosecutors say Graves owned a consulting firm in D.C. that arranged meetings between D.C. officials, businesses and individuals. Most of this work was done prior to 2009, but some payments continued while Graves was a D.C. employee, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 25.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Some DC-Area GOP Delegates Head to Cleveland With Security Concerns]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 20:11:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ConventionSecurity-AP_16196618988388.jpg News4's Tom Sherwood spoke to some local delegates heading to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Govt. Wants Home Confinement for Man at Center of DC Shadow Campaign]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:10:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jeffrey+Thompson+file.jpg

The federal government wants six months of home confinement and a $10,000 fine for the man at the center of the 2010 D.C. mayoral shadow campaign.

Prosecutors agreed to drop one of the two conspiracy charges against Jeffrey Thompson.

The defense asked for two years probation and 1,200 hours of community service, citing Thompson's cooperation with the investigation and noting how he has lost his businesses and his standing in the community.

Prosecutors said they wouldn't use Thompson as a witness for the prosecution of former Mayor Vincent Gray because after Thompson pleaded guilty they uncovered evidence about his conduct that have been used to undermine his credibility.

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced in August, according to court documents.

Gray's case was dropped in December. He won the Democratic primary for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council in June.

Twelve people pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation, which uncovered evidence of more than $3.3 million in illegal contributions to various campaigns between 2006 and 2011.

Thompson admitted setting up an illegal $660,000 slush fund that aided Gray's campaign.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's VP Pick Could Be a Win for DC Voting Rights]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 14:55:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/071516+pence+dc+flag.jpg

As D.C. leaders write a constitution in hopes of making the District the 51st state, Donald Trump's selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate may be an indication a Trump administration would support giving D.C. a vote in Congress.

While Trump is on record as being "okay" with giving D.C. representation in Congress, Pence has been on the record for almost a decade as a staunch supporter, calling the District's lack of voting representation on the Hill "a historic wrong."

Pence took to the House floor in March 2007, when he represented Indiana's 6th Congressional District, and spoke in support of D.C. residents.

“The fact that more than half a million Americans living in the District of Columbia are denied a single voting representative in Congress is clearly a historic wrong," he told his colleagues, the Congressional Record shows.

“The single overreaching principle of the American founding was that laws should be based upon the consent of the governed," he continued. "It is inconceivable to me that our founders would have been willing to accept the denial of representation to so great a throng of Americans in perpetuity.”

D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, who was in the House gallery during Pence's remarks, said he sees Pence's spot on the Republican ticket as an opportunity.

"Pence's willingness to cross party lines on the D.C Voting Rights Act was encouraging," he said. "His position on the ticket is helpful because it gives us an opportunity to engage Republicans on the issue of D.C.'s status with more visibility, on a bipartisan basis."

Trump has been noncommittal on his support of D.C. voting rights, and in March, he told The Washington Post he's opposed to statehood.

"I think statehood is a tough thing for D.C. I think it’s a tough thing. I don’t have a position on it yet. I would form a position. But I think statehood is a tough thing for D.C.," he said in a meeting with the paper's editorial board. "I don’t see statehood for D.C."

When Trump was asked about granting D.C. residents a vote in the House of Representatives, he said: "I think that’s something that would be okay. Having representation would be okay."

Then-Rep. Pence knew when he spoke on the House floor in 2007 that he was going against the will of the Republican Party.

“It is my privilege to stand today, albeit in opposition to some of my most cherished colleagues, and stand in support of the D.C. Voting Rights bill," he said in April 2007, the Congressional Record shows.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Union, DC Council Feud Over Police Reform Resolution]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 19:58:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/MPDC+car.jpg

The chairman of D.C.’s police union says his officers will work to unseat 10 council members, who signed a resolution calling for police reform.

The resolution written by Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) lists the names of 10 people he and other council members say were killed by police.

“Basically spatting in our face telling us how violent, how police officers are just criminals,” D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Matt Mahl said.

Mahl says in some of those cases, the officers were found to not have committed any crime.

“A lot of these incidents are still being investigated or some sort of judicial process,” Mahl said.

Grosso said he wanted to start a dialog between the community and police across the country about ways to improve policing and reduce the number of police-involved killings.

Mahl went to the Wilson Building Thursday to let council members know how upset he and many of his fellow officers are at the resolution introduced Tuesday, the same day suspects shot at police in two incidents.

“My members realize that they have no support coming out of the Wilson Building,” he said.

“It’s a ceremonial resolution that is just saying that the council of the District of Columbia really cares, is paying attention to the issues around police brutality and the country, and in fact, what happens here as well, and that there’s something needs to be done about it,” Grosso said.

The victims named include Sandra Bland, who was jailed after a white Texas state trooper pulled her over a year ago for a minor traffic violation and their exchange turned combative. She was found hanging from a cell partition three days later.

Mahl pointed out her death was a suicide, not at the hands of police officers.

“These are things my members are enraged about,” he said.

“I’m sorry if it upset the police officers independently on this issue, but it’s time to have this tough conversation and really understand what is the bias we understand,” Gross said. “Why are more black residents of our city, more black residents of our country being impacted by violent acts?”

Trayvon Martin’s name really angered police, since Martin was killed by an armed citizen.

“It's just another demonstration of where a black man has been killed at the hands of violent acts,” Grosso said. “It’s part of the frustration in our country. It’s not all about the police. I made that point clear in my resolution. It’s about the whole society not embracing change.”

Mahl also pointed out none of the names on the list was from an incident in D.C.

He’s so upset he plans to take this issue to the voters.

“During this next election cycle, I’m going to call upon the fire union, the teachers union, nurses, all of our public service unions to go out and find candidates that are viable candidates for this city council that are going to support our public service workers, and we’re going to fight to get them in office and remove the ones who don’t have faith in the police department,” he said.

“Of course it sounds like I’m going after one or two incidences,” Gross said. “What I’m really saying is, from the broader picture, the bigger picture, we have to address this bias and we have to do something about it.”

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Who Is Mike Pence?]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:51:01 -0400
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<![CDATA[Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine Campaigning With Clinton]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 16:22:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160714+clinton+and+kaine.jpg

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in his home state.

Kaine -- who is believed to be in the running to be Clinton's pick for vice president --appeared with Clinton Thursday afternoon in Annandale, Virginia.

The mild-mannered career politician criticized Donald Trump.

"Do you want a trash-talker president? Or a bridge-builder president?," Kaine said.

He also used Trump's words about women, Muslims and Latinos as an indictment.

"What will be remembered about the failed candidacy of Donald Trump is, 'You're fired' and maybe one other phrase: Trump U," Kaine said.

The event was held at Northern Virginia Community College.

Clinton took advantage of the setting to roll out her new plan to make debt-free college available to everyone. She also talked about immigration reform with the path to citizenship.

"She was very clear about infrastructure and education in schools, dealing with student debt, having a strong country so we can be a strong foreign player," said Helen Manich, an Alexandria resident.

Some Clinton supporters at the event said they believe Kaine has the knowledge, experience and temperment for the job.

"I think he inspires trust, human decency. We know what he has done all his life and I think he's truly a good model," Fairfax County resident Michael Kwan said.

"You want somebody that's steady, that's been there, that's bonafide. Do you want to take a chance with anybody else? This is as steady as it gets," said Vernon Wellstead, who is from Flint Hill, Virginia.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: A ‘Vigil’ …Then What?]]> Wed, 13 Jul 2016 05:51:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vigil-generic.jpg

Television and the country are drawn to vigils: Zoom-in shots of tear-stained faces. Resolute gazes in flickering candlelight. Mournful songs of loss and resolution. Funerals.

Then what?

People go home. The news crews pack up. As people walk away, there’s the always hopeful murmur or vow that this time it will be different.

With social media allowing us all to decamp into our worlds of like-minded groups, our fractured sense of country may well make it harder to see unity of purpose. And all this comes as our already criticized presidential campaigns head into their national conventions.

■ Heading to Cleveland on Sunday. NBC4 anchor Chris Lawrence and your Notebook will be reporting next week from the Republican National Convention. We’ll try to bring you local stories of the delegates from Maryland, Virginia and the District, who they are and how they are reacting to national events and the presumptive party nomination of Donald Trump.

Given the intense political feelings for and against Trump, with protesters as well as ardent defenders expected, it may be a remarkable week. Your Notebook has attended a number of these conventions for NBC4 and, before that, The Washington Post. None has promised the uncertainty that lies ahead in Cleveland.

■ Family leave snag. The D.C. Council held public hearings last winter on an ambitious plan to require city businesses to offer 16 weeks of paid family leave to address care for newborns, elderly parents or other family issues. Many business groups say the costs of the legislation would endanger small businesses and discourage large firms from hiring.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who had expected a vote before the council’s summer recess, said Monday the proposal would not be voted on until later this year. The council held three hearings on the bill last winter, with family groups urging relief for hard-pressed families and for the well-being of infants and the elderly.

Council insiders say a majority of the council supports some type of family leave legislation, but it likely would be eight weeks instead of 16. Funding details are still being worked out. It currently would depend upon a 1 percent payroll tax.

■ “Born for This.” If you’re looking for a happy diversion from the above, you might seek out tickets to Arena Stage and its entertaining production of “Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story.”

We don’t claim to be a theater critic, but Saturday night your Notebook and a few friends joined a full, enthusiastic house for the play about African-American gospel singers BeBe Winans and his sister CeCe Winans. They are played by actors Juan Winans and Deborah Joy Winans, nephew and niece to the real BeBe Winans, who is co-author of the play with veteran playwright Charles Randolph-Wright.

The play recounts how the young teen siblings were first given national exposure on the “Praise the Lord” telecasts — “The PTL Club” — hosted by North Carolina televangelists Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker. Kirsten Wyatt plays Tammy Faye in melodramatic fashion. She alone is worth the admission ticket if you recall any of PTL’s over-the-top history.

But the play itself is focused on family, religion, rivalry, parenting, growing up and confronting the world. The play, filled with musical numbers, has some predictable emotional moments that feel a bit staged. But any of that is lost in the fine telling of a warm, funny and heartfelt story.

“Born for This” is a collaboration of Arena Stage and the Alliance Theatre of Atlanta.

Arena artistic director Molly Smith writes in the program that it’s “a powerful new musical about a prominent African-American family and their contributions” to music, community and life.

■ Fun to cost more. The costs for using city athletic facilities are going up after Labor Day, according to the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.

The city’s parks and recreation department makes it clear that the fees were approved by the D.C. Council. The new fees affect athletic fields, community rooms, tennis and basketball courts, gyms, picnic groves, pool lanes and equipment. The list is too long to repeat here, but let the Notebook know if any increases seem too much. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

■ Correction. Last week, we wrote about the District’s latest effort to push for statehood. We quoted some political commentary on WAMU radio from professor George Derek Musgrove of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. We got the quotes right, but we misspelled the last name of WAMU’s senior news editor for special projects Jacob Fenston. It’s right this time. Our apologies.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DC Mayor Wants to Expand Age for Police Cadet Program]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 07:04:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015392791_1200x675_723354691894.jpg D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will introduce legislation Tuesday to boost the police candidate pool. Bowser wants to expand the maximum age for the police cadet program and allow the police chief to rehire retired detectives for training. News4's Kristin Wright has more on the mayor's plan. ]]> <![CDATA[Trump Says He's the 'Law & Order' Candidate]]> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 18:50:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015387615_1200x675_723031107695.jpg News4's Tom Sherwood reports on Donald Trump's stop in Virginia Beach and what he had to say about the Dallas shootings.]]> <![CDATA[DC's Paid Family Leave Bill Placed on Pause]]> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 13:59:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_186245054.jpg

A controversial bill to give employees in the District 16 weeks of paid family leave has hit a snag.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Monday the council will not vote on the measure before it adjourns for its summer recess. Mendelson said the vote won't happen until at least late this year. 

If passed, the bill -- known as the Universal Paid Leave Act -- would be one of the most progressive family leave policies in the nation. As currently written, it would be funded by a one percent payroll tax on employers.

The District government already has a family leave plan that allows for eight weeks, but this proposal would apply to all private businesses in the District.

Councilmembers David Grosso and Elissa Silverman co-authored the bill, which would allow any employee in D.C., or any D.C. resident who works outside of the District, to receive pay for up to 16 weeks of leave to care for a baby recently born or adopted, or to care for family members after major medical operations.

The council held hearings last winter on the matter, and both Mayor Muriel Bowser and city business owners have expressed concerns over its cost. Businesses have lobbied hard against the costs of the proposal, saying it would hurt both large and small firms.

A majority of the council appears to favor some sort of family leave bill, but insiders say the proposal likely will be cut from 16 weeks to eight when it comes up again.

On Monday, Grosso criticized the postponement on the vote, saying in a statement he was determined to advance the measure this fall.

"The working families of the District of Columbia need the security and stability this legislation provides," Grosso said in the statement. "I'm disappointed that we're not moving forward[;] however I remain committed to the goals of the bill and to enactment by the end of the year."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Lynch To Testify on Emails]]> Fri, 08 Jul 2016 18:54:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

Attorney General Loretta Lynch heads to the Hill to discuss Hillary's emails, President Obama is in Spain, Clinton and Trump on the campaign trail and Bradleigh breaks down a Trump University lawsuit.

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<![CDATA[Blood Tests Offered at House Building After Lead Found in Water]]> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:44:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/070616+cannon+building.jpg

Congressional staffers are being offered tests to check lead levels in their blood after lead was found in the water of one U.S. House of Representatives office building.

"Anomalous test results" were found in the Cannon House Office Building on June 27, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) said in a statement issued Wednesday. In response, the AOC shut down drinking water in the building, provided bottled water and offered blood tests.

Additionally, the AOC said it is accelerating plans to test water in other buildings it manages.

Ten people were evaluated for possible exposure to lead in the Longworth House Office Building in March. Cafeteria workers reported they were not feeling well, and the cafeteria was closed.

Photo Credit: Architect of the Capitol]]>
<![CDATA[Plans for Pride Month in Loudoun Halted Over Opposition]]> Tue, 05 Jul 2016 22:03:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/love+loudoun+month.jpg

Loudoun County backed off a controversial plan to name June LGBT Pride Month. Instead, July 2016 will be "Love Loudoun Month” under a new resolution passed Tuesday night.

A board supervisor proposed honoring the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community through a resolution. She was met with strong opposition.

Some critics of the original proclamation said it would badly influence children and "promote homosexuality.”

At Tuesday's board meeting, county leaders didn't pass that resolution but did approve a plan that was much less controversial. The resolution said all are welcome in Loudoun and urged people in the county to love and respect the diverse community.

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: The Fourth, Not Fully Celebrated...]]> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 06:48:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_222585961.jpg

The rain-challenged Fourth of July is behind us. Its spirited exaltations of freedom and democracy give way again to our dispirited presidential campaign. And here in little ol' D.C., the hollowness of American citizenship remains as we continue to be second-class Americans.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is living up to a 2014 campaign promise to reinvigorate the city's desire for statehood for our 670,000 residents. She has pressed ahead with a quick, simple proposed state constitution she hopes to have voters approve this fall so it can be submitted to Congress early next year (especially if the Democrats retain the White House and, maybe, regain the U.S. Senate).

It is the latest in a long line of failed efforts to achieve this goal. As we have said, hopes for D.C. statehood have risen and fallen more times than the curtains at the Kennedy Center.

And strong winds are blowing against this renewed effort.

"Talk about rights all you want," former Northern Virginia Congressman Tom Davis said last week. "The more you whoop it up ... the more the backlash."

Davis, a moderate-conservative Republican, spoke last Thursday at a D.C. Bar forum on "D.C. Statehood: Why It Matters." He bluntly told the panel and audience that there is little to no support on Capitol Hill. That's especially true among Republicans, who would not want to dilute their clout on the Hill by surely allowing the election of two Democratic senators from D.C.

In a recent appearance on WAMU 88.5 FM, George Derek Musgrove, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, reiterated this reality. In an interview with WAMU's Jacob Fenton, Musgrove said, "Politics is about power ... reward your friends, punish your enemies." He said the District has no real political power -- a PAC, paid city lobbyists or others who can get the attention of Congress. "You cannot assume even your [Capitol Hill] friends, over whom you have no sway ... will do what's in your interest and not theirs."

The comments of Davis and Musgrove burst like fireworks over the cheerleading that accompanies this latest statehood effort.

Every member of the D.C. Bar panel recognized this reality. The city will have to spend time, money and resources to lobby Congress. But before you can do that, they all agreed there has to be a plan to gear up and aggressively follow.

The panelists and speakers were D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Arent Fox lawyer Jon Boucher, veteran lawyer Fred Cooke (who served from 1987 to 1990 as D.C. corporation counsel, the prior equivalent of D.C. attorney general), senior Bowser adviser Beverly Perry and Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis. Your Notebook was the moderator.

Perry noted the Bowser administration has geared up quickly to get a proposed constitution in place before the Board of Elections this week so it can be on the November ballot. There has been an outcry that the basic governing document was too rushed, with too little community input, despite three public hearings. Perry said getting a clear, non-controversial constitution to Congress would improve statehood's chances.

Both Perry and the mayor, who arrived to wrap up the session, said city leaders are determined to put on a professional lobbying effort. Perry noted that former Mayor Anthony Williams has agreed to lead an "Advocacy Committee."

Bowser's actions so far have raised expectations. But the fate of the presidential race and Senate are out of the city's control.

In this turbulent political year, we'll see how it all plays out.

■ Douglass nailed it. American icon Frederick Douglass masterfully attacked slavery in 1852 when he gave his "July 5" address on an American independence that didn't include slaves. Although our second-class citizenship in no way approaches the ugly history of slavery, our lack of voting rights and self-determination makes the nation's capital the most un-American place in America. Some of Douglass' words speak to us and should speak to the nation about our modern condition.

"It is the birthday of your National Independence," Douglass said back then, "and of your political freedom."

And while he especially noted, "Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic... I do not despair of this country," Douglass exposed the hollow ring of July 4: "What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages."

■ A semifinal word. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson has announced she'll leave her post Sept. 30. She is leaving a bit earlier than she said in her public declaration to NBC4 that she would leave in 2017. But her accomplishments are many in a struggling school system that has turned many corners but has more to go. There is time to assess her role as the city looks to the future.

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

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[DC Council to Examine Proposed DCPS Food Contract]]> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:55:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_272394485.jpg

The D.C. Council is examining the city school system's decision to turn food service over to a new vendor.

The school system announced in May that it had selected SodexoMagic as its main food-service contractor. The company would replace Chartwells, which had its contract renewed even after it paid $19 million to settle claims that it cheated the system through price-gouging and fraud and served spoiled food to city schoolchildren.

An Associated Press investigation also found that Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson had asked Chartwells for a $100,000 contribution to a gala at the Kennedy Center honoring teachers. SodexoMagic has also donated to the gala.

The council's education committee will hear testimony about the contract award on Wednesday. The council has the power to approve or reject the contract.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Parents of Gun Violence Victims Arrested for Capitol Protest]]> Tue, 05 Jul 2016 18:51:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/070516+gun+protest.jpg

Relatives of gun violence victims demanded gun law reforms and staged a sit-in Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Rotunda, where six participants were arrested.

Protesters urging members of Congress to vote on gun legislation held oversized photographs of their loved ones and chanted, “No bill, no breaks."

Police arrested six of the eight protesters on charges of demonstrating in an unauthorized area.

Of the eight protesters, four lost a child to gun violence. Two lost their mothers. Another survived the Tucson shooting that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And another said she had lost 24 loved ones to shootings.

Protester Eddie Weingart said he saw his mom get shot and killed by his stepfather in Desert Springs, California, when he was 2 years old. He held a sign that said, "My mom is not a political stunt." Each protester held a similar sign, Weingart said the signs were directed at House Speaker Paul Ryan and other politicians who called House Democrats' sit-in on the House floor in June a political stunt.

“It was no political stunt, and the mention that it was is completely appalling,” Weingart said. “It’s a slap in the face to me and countless other survivors of gun violence in this country.”

Nardyne Jefferies also participated in the demonstration. Her 16-year-old daughter, Brishell Jones, was shot and killed in D.C., on South Capitol Street, in 2010. Brishell was standing on a corner after attending a funeral for a friend when she was shot. 

“This is not a publicity stunt," Jeffries said. "This is real-life trauma that I have to live with every day.”

The mother said she felt “disgusted” by politicians she feels do not care about recurring gun violence.

“This is not the America that I grew up in,” Jefferies said. “This is not the America that my father fought several wars for.”

“If we’re supposed to protect this country, shouldn’t we protect it from each other?” she said.

Weingart said stopping gun violence is as important to him “as the water I need to drink, the air I need to breathe.” He said despite the difficulties, he holds on to optimism.

“I do believe that one day, this is going to change,” he said. “People have had enough.”

Outside the Capitol building, dozens of families marched and called for action as Congress returned from the July 4 recess. Members of a local group called D.C. Moms and Dads for Rational Gun Safety said they want action.

"Our kids' safety is at stake and the glimmer of hope was the sit-in that the House Democrats did," Laura Brown said. "I thought something is going to happen, and this is the time. We all need to get there now, and we need to get something passed."

Ryan said he will allow a vote on a single gun bill to be proposed in the House. It's a measure that would allow the Attorney General to delay the sale of a gun to a suspected terrorist for three days. It's similar to a Senate measure backed by the National Rifle Association. Some Democrats say it's not real gun control and will oppose it.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Malia Obama Celebrates 18th Birthday]]> Tue, 05 Jul 2016 12:10:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-544943108.jpg

Happy birthday Malia Obama!

The eldest of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's two children and big sister to Sasha Obama officially became an adult and turned 18 on Monday, the Fourth of July.

Malia was 10 years old when her father was elected U.S. leader for the first time in 2008. His second term ends next January, following the upcoming election in November. 

Malia celebrated another milestone earlier this year—she graduated high school. Unlike many of her fellow graduates, she will not be starting college in the fall; The White House revealed a couple of months ago Malia plans to take a gap year. She has, however, been accepted to college—Harvard University, no less, and will begin her studies in fall of 2017.

Over the years, Malia has showcased poise and grace while appearing with her high-profile family in public, and like her mother, has also worn a variety of stylish looks.

See photos of some of Malia's best styles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jaffe: Bowser Must Keep Up Momentum at DCPS]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 14:18:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/041916+kaya+henderson.jpg

Harry Jaffe, a longtime chronicler of the people and politics of Washington, D.C., writes an occasional column for NBC Washington's First Read DMV blog.

Kaya Henderson has been a gift to D.C. public school students for her nearly six years at the helm of DCPS. Now that Henderson has announced her departure, it’s time for Mayor Muriel Bowser to show up and take responsibility for the schools. After all, she controls them.

It’s true, now more than ever, that as the public schools go, so goes the District. Will the city grow its middle class? Will young newcomers stick around to buy homes and raise families, or will they flee to the suburbs when their kids reach school age? "It's on everyone’s mind," a recently married journalist who bought in Trinidad told me. Will Washingtonians coming up in poverty graduate school ready to work and prosper in the new economy?

It all depends on the public schools. And the public charter schools.

Kaya Henderson was far from perfect. When it comes to leading an urban public school system -- where all the maladies of poverty, health, violence and family dysfunction descend -- no one is entirely successful. Sure, Henderson could have tried to retain more principals and teachers. She should have done more for athletics. Critics will play checkers with statistics and question whether student achievement actually improved.

By many measures, they did. The National Assessment of Education showed rising scores. More African-American boys graduated from high school. Henderson rammed through a program aimed at getting black boys through school. Here’s the best measure of her success: students started coming back to the public schools. Henderson inherited a system that was losing thousands of students a year; now it’s gaining them back. All the trends are heading north.

What you won’t see in data is that Henderson has aimed the system directly toward career and college education. She started seven, highly-functioning career academies and is adding three more this summer and fall. They train students in everything from running restaurants and managing hotels to engineering and writing code. Finally, the District’s education leader cemented ties to the city's business community so that hundreds of students have internships this summer at law firms and hotels, developers and banks, nonprofits and hospitals.

Keep in mind the District’s public schools started plummeting downhill in the 1960s, and leader after leader watched them slide. Marion Barry started his political career as school board president, and he ran for mayor in 1978 on his education record. But as mayor for four terms Barry ignored the schools. He pushed responsibility off on the elected school board, but it was a dereliction in his leadership.

Sharon Pratt Kelly ran as the education mayor then ignored the crumbling school buildings and dismal classrooms. Mayor Anthony Williams tried to take over the schools but lacked the political will and muscle. He settled for a hybrid elected and appointed school board that changed nothing.

As the politicians dawdled, generations of District kids failed to learn basic reading and math. Many who graduated were destined for failure.

We have to blow up the system to fix it, many businessmen would tell me.

Roofs leaked, toilets wouldn't flush, boilers failed and teachers were too old to teach. Those were the conditions at exalted Lafayette Elementary School, where my three daughters had to wear coats all day on winter days when the furnace failed.

Say what you will about Adrian Fenty, but he had the vision and the guts to stop the decline and take over the schools -- in his first act as mayor. He then convinced school reformer Michelle Rhee to become the first chancellor, knowing she would demand change, close failing schools and fire crappy teachers.

(Full disclosure: I covered Rhee and collaborated on her memoir.)

Fenty pushed through the billion dollars to begin renovating and rebuilding decrepit schools. He fixed athletic fields all over the city. Rhee battled and beat back a teacher's union that had protected horrible teachers. My kids had a few. The teacher corps needed Rhee's rough love, or nothing would have changed.

Before Rhee left her post, when Fenty lost his reelection bid, she made sure incoming Mayor Vince Gray would appoint her chief deputy, Kaya Henderson, to take her place. Henderson was the ideal leader to continue the reforms; she had been working with DCPS since 1997 as a consultant for The New Teacher Project, and she was committed to improving outcomes for poor kids. Slowly but surely, without fanfare, she accomplished plenty for the students and families.

Henderson also gets credit for making peace with the District's burgeoning and successful charter schools. Rhee wanted to control them; Henderson collaborated with them.

Looking forward, Mayor Bowser and the next chancellor must ratchet up the momentum. Education reform has dropped out of the public consciousness. It's off the home pages. It's not trendy. But it's more essential than ever.

Parents in Petworth want to know why Benjamin Banneker, their gem of an academic high school, is in worsening condition while the District's renovation of Duke Ellington School of the Arts has busted budgets and risen to an astounding $180 million. It's crucial that elementary schools like Bancroft in Mount Pleasant and Garrison near Logan Circle attract families moving into the neighborhoods. Ballou Senior High in Congress Heights looks great from the outside, but it’s still not providing a first rate education. It must.

Kaya Henderson isn't going anywhere. She’s put down roots in the District. "I have a mortgage," she told me. No surprise offers to run another urban school system. No lucrative opportunities to consult, at the moment.

Bowser would do well to keep her close -- the gift that keeps giving.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Major Supreme Court Decisions Loom]]> Thu, 07 Jul 2016 18:28:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

Supreme Court could rule on abortion, affirmative action and immigration, Hillary hits key battleground states, Trumps heads to Scotland and Bradleigh breaks down the Brexit.

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