<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]> Copyright 2015 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 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:43:44 -0500 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:43:44 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Va. Gov. Out of Hospital, Greets Schoolchildren]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:15:39 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20150122+McAuliffe.jpg

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was released Thursday from a Richmond hospital, where he was treated for injuries sustained weeks ago on a safari in Tanzania.

Over the winter holiday, McAuliffe was thrown from a horse during his vacation in Africa. He broke seven ribs and punctured a lung.

He resumed his normal office duties before suffering shortness of breath on Monday, when he entered Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. McAuliffe underwent surgery to drain blood from his punctured lung.

Upon his release, he tweeted, “Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes over the past few days. I’m back at home and resuming my daily schedule.”

His “daily schedule” for Thursday included a welcoming twist.

A group of 4th graders from St. Bridget School in Richmond were touring the mansion for a school field trip. McAuliffe surprised the students by greeting them and posing for several photos.

<![CDATA[Medical Marijuana Bills Proposed in Va. General Assembly]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:52:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/176*120/980499621.jpg

Parents of a teenage girl from Fairfax are among those going to Richmond to make medical marijuana more accessible in Virginia.

Jennifer Collins, 15, balances school, extracurricular activities and social life while battling debilitating seizures daily.

To ease the pain, Jennifer’s parents made huge sacrifices. In 2013, they moved to Colorado, and for a year Jennifer used cannabis oil. But family pressures forced them to move back to Fairfax last month.

The Virginia General Assembly is considering these three medical marijuana bills:

Opponents say they’re should be more trials to determine medical marijuana’s effectiveness and safety.

<![CDATA[What to Expect From New Md. Gov. Hogan]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:02:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141104+Hogan.jpg

Larry Hogan was sworn in as Maryland governor Wednesday, becoming just the second Republican to hold the post in more than 45 years. He'll face a $750 million budget deficit, a legislature controlled by Democrats and an electorate awaiting the tax cuts he promised on the campaign trail.

But what he will try to do in office remains something of a mystery, political observers say.

"He was not at all specific about policies during the campaign," said Donald F. Norris, director of the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "He basically ran against the outgoing governor for being a tax-and-spend liberal and claimed that we were not only overtaxed but over-regulated."

Hogan, 58, defeated Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown last fall, in what was described as an astonishing upset and a rebuke to two-term Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and the tax increases he implemented. Hogan, a commercial real estate broker, is the son of a former congressman and county executive for Prince George's County in Maryland. He is the state's second Republican governor since former Vice President Spiro Agnew held the role.

Hogan has promised better fiscal management, but now must contend with spending formulas that control some of the budget's largest expenses.

"I can't see him imposing new taxes so really he's left with cuts and that's where he begins to engage real battle with the legislature," said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor for The Cook Political Report.

Mandated appropriations account for 81 percent of the state's portion of spending proposed for the 2015 fiscal year beginning in July, according to a November report from the Department of Legislative Services' Office of Policy Analysis. The two-year budget shortfall has grown to nearly $1.2 billion.

"Beyond what's in his initial budget, I think you'll see him trying to change some of those mandatory spending patterns to give the state a little bit more flexibility and an ability to avoid ongoing structural deficits," said Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science and chairman of Political Science Department at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Hogan vowed during the campaign that he would work with the state legislature, and observers will be watching carefully to see how long bipartisanship will last in a state with a 2-to-1 Democratic registration.

"I would say the two presiding officers in the state legislature are moderate to conservative Democrats but their rank and file, particularly in the House, are very liberal so that's going to be a pressure point for all of these four years," said Josh Kurtz, a political blogger for Center Maryland.

Kurtz and others noted that the previous Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, similarly pledged compromise but instead fought with the legislature through much of his single four-year term.

"So if Hogan chooses to fight with the Democrats, it's going to be an ugly four years," Norris said. "He won't get anything accomplished. If he can find ground for compromise and cooperation, then I think things will work out pretty well for both sides. We just have to wait and see."

Hogan, who won 54 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Brown, has said he wants to appeal two environmental measures: a storm water remediation fee, otherwise known as the rain tax, and regulations governing how much nitrogen can be released into the Chesapeake Bay, particularly from chicken farmers on the Eastern Shore, Norris said.

Hogan also has questioned the expense of two large public transit projects on the boards: the Baltimore Red Line, a 14-mile light rail transit line linking the city's east and west sides to the downtown that would cost $2.9 billion, and the Greater Washington Purple Line, a 16-mile east-west transit line connecting Bethesda to New Carrollton that would cost $2.45 billion. Both would gotten $100 million in federal funding, and could get up to $900 million each if Maryland signs funding agreements.

In recent days, Hogan refused to discuss the projects until after he took office, but during the campaign, he said he would spend money on roads rather than on expanding public transportation.
Observers noted that he was elected by predominantly suburban and rural voters.

Others programs that could prompt objections from voters if Hogan tries to cut them: school construction and prekindergarten.

"Nobody really knows what Hogan is going to be like when things don't go his way because he's never held elective office before," Kurtz said. "So in that respect, he's a big mystery."

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: ‘Interoperability’ Indeed]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 06:15:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/estacion-metro-washington.jpg

We really don’t have to wait months for the professional report from the National Transportation Safety Board on Metro’s equipment malfunction and slow response to last week’s fatal incident.

The simple truth is this: After 47 years in business, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority doesn’t have a working safety plan with clear guidelines on what its staff and responding emergency crews need to do to act and communicate in any situation.

In fact, we can further reduce the problem to a famous line in the 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” (An aside: This quote often inaccurately is written as “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”)

A D.C. fire department report on the smoky malfunction, released over the weekend, said firefighters could not communicate effectively in the tunnel because there were no radio connections. Some firefighters had to use cellphones. The report also said the fire department previously had notified Metro — before the emergency — that there were gaps in radio accessibility. NBC4’s transportation reporter Adam Tuss has heard from multiple sources that there are communication “dead spots” all over the Metro system.

Ever since 9/11, the word “interoperability” has gained traction as the go-to word in failed emergency responses. You’ll be hearing it again and again as reports show emergency responders couldn’t talk to one another. There has been a sea of meetings on how to get first responders on the same wavelength.

Your Notebook would like see the word “interoperability” made inoperable itself. The word is a bureaucrat’s catnip. Instead, let’s use real words.




Any ordinary word would do.

Metro itself, the jurisdictions that pay for it and the emergency responders we depend upon need to remove the bureaucratic barnacles that quite simply are endangering our lives.

A Monday letter to The Washington Post from Marianne Bailey of Alexandria summarized the situation, recalling another Metro incident at the same station:

“No one seems to be talking about a December 2011 incident on the Blue and Orange lines outside of L’Enfant Plaza that also caused smoke (with flames) and stranded passengers (I was among them).

“Slow response and a lack of communication led some passengers to ad-lib their escape. We were there for so long that the emergency lighting in the tunnel timed out, and responders used glow sticks when they finally walked us down the tunnel. Was there follow-up? Lessons learned? Accountability? Why haven’t Metro and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services put workable joint procedures in place?

“This is not a funding issue; it is a management and training issue. This time, let’s not forget and move on before it is fixed.”

■ Tuning the public out. In recent years, police and fire departments across the country have been switching aggressively to “encrypted” radio communications. The D.C. police and fire have done so, making it impossible for citizens or the news media to hear and assess what’s happening in real time.

Even though these public safety departments already had existing secure radio channels on which to pass sensitive information, they contended that mainline channels have to be encrypted because terrorists and bad guys also can listen in on police movements.

That’s “security theater.” There is little demonstrable evidence of open channels being a problem. And it is demonstrable that citizens and the news media are now unable to hear real-time public safety information.

“What happens is, we don’t know what’s going on,” one television editor in the District told The Notebook. “We are in the most powerful city in the world and we can’t hear anything. It’s quite a mess.”

Like it or not, the news media are part of the citizens’ eyes and ears on what’s happening in our communities. Maybe some gutsy news managers somewhere or citizens’ groups will test this blackout in court. Maybe here in the District, the mayor and the D.C. Council will take a second look at this loss of information and its effect on the citizens’ right to know.

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

<![CDATA[Marion C. Barry Turns Himself in After Outburst at Bank]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 20:06:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/0119-barry.jpg

The son of the late Marion Barry turned himself in Wednesday to face charges stemming from an angry outburst at a local bank.

Marion Christopher Barry turned himself in at 6 a.m. He was detained for several hours and released Wednesday afternoon.

Barry, who is a candidate in the special election to fill his father's unexpired term, faces three misdemeanor charges: assault, destruction of property and making threats to do bodily harm, according to court documents.

Barry also apologized for the incident Wednesday, saying he is "committed to rise up and carry the torch" of his father's legacy.

"I know that I have a great responsibility as a leader in Ward 8," the apology went on to say.

Last week, Barry cursed a PNC bank teller on 7th Street downtown, after she refused to let him withdraw $20,000 from a bank account that was already overdrafted by $2,000. 

According to court documents, Barry said he would "have somebody waiting for you when you get off work," according to a police report.

Barry then threw a trash can over the security glass, destroying a security camera valued at $1,000, documents said. The incident was captured on security cameras.

<![CDATA[Christopher Barry to Turn Himself in Over Outburst at Bank]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:51:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/0119-barry.jpg

The son of the late Marion Barry is expected to turn himself Wednesday to face charges stemming from an angry outburst at a local bank.

Marion Christopher Barry, who is a candidate in the special election to fill his father's unexpired term, faces misdemeanor charges of making a threat and destruction of property, according to lawyers handling the issue for Barry.

Last week, Christopher Barry cursed a PNC bank teller on 7th Street downtown during a dispute over his account and said he would "have somebody waiting for you when you get off work," according to a police report.

The police report said Barry threw a trash can over the security glass, destroying a security camera valued at $1,000. The incident was captured on security cameras.

Lawyers said Monday Barry was expected to turn himself in Tuesday or Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Va. Lawmakers to Discuss Drug Overdose Good Samaritan Bill]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:34:12 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Heroingeneric_722x406_2169976679.jpg

The Virginia attorney general and a Fairfax County father are coming together to urge lawmakers to attack the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid drug overdoses.

One proposal would offer limited criminal immunity to someone who is with a person during an overdose. The "safe reporting" or Good Samaritan provision would mean that person could for help without fear of arrest.

"This safe reporting law would encourage them to pick up the phone and call for help," explained Attorney General Herring. "The goal of these bills is to save lives."

Herring said the 2013 death of Fairfax County teen Emylee Lonczak underscored the need for the measure. Lonczak's body was found in a wooded area after she got a fatal overdose of heroin. The young men she was with knew she was in distress and never called for help.

Harring added he wants to expand a pilot program to allow law enforcement officers to give Naloxone to those suffering from an overdose. The antitode counters the potential deadly effects of drugs.

Another bill would take aim at drug dealers who sell heroin and other opioids that kill. It would strengthen the Commonwealth's laws and make the crime a felony homicide.

Don Flattery's 26-year-old son Kevin died five months ago following an opioid overdose. Since his death, Flattery has served on a task force that confronted the troubling numbers; 800 Virginians died of drug overdoses in 2012, while heroin overdoses jumped 164 percent in a 2-year time period.

"I believe they will have an immediate impact in saving lives and in removing predatory drug dealers from the streets," Flattery said. 

<![CDATA[Va. Gov. Suffers 7 Broken Ribs in Fall From Horse]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 18:09:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0115-mcauliffe.jpg

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is recovering from injuries he received after being thrown from a horse while on a family trip to Africa, several media outlets are reporting.

McAuliffe is being treated for seven broken ribs at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Spokesman Brian Coy says the governor was with his family in Tanzania over the Christmas holidays when the riding accident occurred.

The governor had been working since his return from Africa and expected the injury to heal on its own, but Coy said doctors identified increased fluid around his lungs that required treatment.

The governor is expected to spend two to three days recovering.

"My husband is resting comfortably after a successful procedure this afternoon. He and I want to thank the outstanding medical team at VCU Medical Center who just informed us that he is expected to recover well and get back to his full schedule within the next few days," Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe said Monday. "We would also like to thank the many well-wishers from all across Virginia who expressed concern and support for Terry as he continues to recover."

Coy stressed that the injury is not a "dire thing'' and the governor has been on the job since the accident. That includes delivering the State of the Commonwealth last week.


<![CDATA[D.C. Peace Walk, Parade Honor King's Legacy]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 12:34:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/peace+walk.JPG

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser led the first of many events honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in the District Monday.

The wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial also featured musical guests and speakers.

The MLK Holiday Peace Walk and Parade got underway a few hours later in Southeast D.C. The walk began at 11 a.m. at 2498 Martin Luther King Jr., Avenue SE and will proceed to 620 Milwaukee Place SE.

During the walk, there will be rolling street closures along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue beginning at 11 a.m.

The parade will follow the walk at noon. Martin Luther King Jr Avenue will be closed between the 2700 block and the 4200 block from noon until 3 p.m. for the parade.

The National Cathedral will also honor King's legacy with an afternoon of music, poetry and dance. The event will be held from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. 

Other King events planned for Monday's federal holiday include a wreath-laying in Maryland, a concert featuring Natalie Cole at the Kennedy Center and volunteer service activities at Eastern High School and Miriam's Kitchen.

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<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: State of the Union Edition]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:11:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

Key themes of the President's State of the Union address, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the lowdown on Cuba -- and look who climbed El Capitan?

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<![CDATA[Va. Gov. McAuliffe Takes Stock of First Year in Office]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 17:00:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0115-mcauliffe.jpg

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is taking stock of his first year in office.

His successes -- and one big defeat -- have helped shape the agenda for 2015.

Gov. McAuliffe is fond of saying his motto is "sleep when you're dead" and last year, he attacked his new job with enormous energy.

"I always say we got 95 percent of the things I wanted to get done," said McAuliffe of his first year in office during a 30-minute interview from his Patrick Henry Building office in Richmond.

He says his biggest achievement was attracting new private sector businesses to offset the damaging sequestration cuts.

"We have had as you know, the 267 job announcements, $5.6 billion in investment which is double what any governor in the Commonwealth has done in their first year," said McAuliffe.

He said the threat of even deeper sequestration cuts taking effect Oct. 1, 2015 will drive him in his second year.

"That's why I'm working at such a pace to diversify our economy, to bring jobs from around the globe that are not dependent on the federal government," McAuliffe said.

In the failure category, one of McAuliffe's signature campaign promises -- expansion of Medicaid health care coverage to low income Virginians.

Once Republicans took control of General Assembly after Democratic St. Sen. Phil Puckett resigned in June, McAuliffe's last ditch attempt to expand Medicaid was dead.

"[Republicans] were never going to vote for it," he said. "I had to find a pathway myself to get it done. We got very close."

Medicaid expansion won't be a priority in year two, but McAuliffe hasn't given up.

"I'm going to continue to fight for those 400,000 Virginians desperately in need of health care."

Republicans accuse McAuliffe of pushing failed pet projects to score politic points. St. Sen. Mark Obenshain issued a statement after McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth Address saying:

"Instead of a forward-thinking vision, the Governor presented us with a retread of battles already fought and policies that have proven to be failures ... It didn’t take long for Governor McAuliffe to begin rehashing the past and pushing for the usual pet projects found on every progressive’s wish list: Medicaid expansion, gun control, and more government spending with no meaningful cuts."

McAuliffe's pledge to make Virginia more open to same sex couples may have exceeded expectations as same sex marriage is now reality in the Commonwealth.

"I'm the first southern Governor to perform a gay marriage. My point is, to build a new economy we have to be open and welcoming to everyone," McAuliffe said.

He added he delivered on the campaign pledge to roll back restrictions that would have forced women's health care centers to comply with certain hospital building standards.

"Some things I couldn't do with the legislature so I did them myself. I went to the Board of Health, replaced members of the Board of Health, told them to take politics out of these onerous regulations that have impacted women and guess what? Not one single women's health center closed since I've been governor," McAuliffe said.

In his state of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night and in the interview the following day, there was little doubt about McAuliffe's priority in 2015.

"Job, jobs, jobs," he said.

One of McAuliffe's first executive orders upon inauguration last year was to place a $100 gift cap on his office and his family. Now he wants the General Assembly to do the same with all public officials.

He recognizes the damage done by former Gov. Bob McDonnell's conviction.

"If you look at turnout in midterm election, I think it was 37 percent. Now what does that tell you? I think it tells you voters are disgusted," said McAuliffe.

But the 2015 legislative session opened with another scandal. Newly re-elected Del. Joe Morrissey (I-Henrico) is serving a jail sentence at night, legislating by day. McAuliffe said it's up to the House delegates to decide whether to take action against Morrissey, but he doesn't like the image projected.

"It's not right. I go back to my point, probably most papers in the United States had a story on it. None of this is helpful as I'm out there as chief salesman, chief job creator, trying to convince businesses to move," said McAuliffe.

Monday's deadly Metro accident that killed a Virginia woman has suddenly placed the issue of Metro safety onto McAuliffe's agenda. He said he spoke to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser by phone this week.

The two had an already scheduled transportation summit with Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan on Jan. 28. McAuliffe said he has put WMATA officials on notice, and that he wants answers by that meeting.

"We need to know immediately how did this happen? What steps are we taking immediately to make sure this never occurs again?" said McAuliffe. "I want to make sure it's safe. I want answers."

As for settling into the Governor's Mansion, McAuliffe's wife and two of his five children are still at home, living in Northern Virginia until the end of last school year.

Now that they've moved into the mansion, the lawn features a basketball hoop and lacrosse net.

McAuliffe said it was a little tough especially for his teenage daughter to change high schools but Richmond has won the family over.

"Folks here in Richmond could not have been nicer to us," he said. "The southern hospitality has been the finest."

<![CDATA[Full Interview: McAuliffe Rates His First Year in Office]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 20:02:32 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009157287_1200x675_384902211644.jpg News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey's complete interview with Gov. Terry McAuliffe.]]> <![CDATA[Report: D.C. Area Faces $58 Billion Budget Gap]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 23:15:28 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/lenfant+metro+station+011215.jpg

A Council of Governments (COG) report released Wednesday says the D.C. Metro area will face a funding gap of at least $58 billion over the next 15 years.

The report analyzes transportation, water, energy, public buildings and public safety communications and their funding needs. Of the $58 billion, transportation accounts for $24 billion and water infrastructure accounts of $20 billion.

Even more specifically, Metro says it will need $16 billion during the next 15 years to maintain the system and improve safety.

"Without funding to make these improvements, [Metro] won't be anle to keep up with growing demand," the report said.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who also serves as chairman of COG, reviewed the report Wednesday.

"The concern is very great both from a reliability and safety perspective, but also the ability of public transit to meet the needs of the region," Mendelson said.

Leaders throughout the region said they're worried about huge costs of routine maintenance as well as new facilities with no clear idea of where the extra money might be found.

"It's clear, however, the state, federal government, the local governments and indeed the private sector need to seriously consider how they're going to come up with the money," Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder said.

Snyder, who has served on emergency committees, pointed out the importance of filling in the budget gap for transportation.

"I think we all as supporters of Metro have the right to demand management that at the very least provides full and accurate communications to riders in minor and major incidents and that's apparently not happened on a repeated basis," Snyder said, referencing this week's deadly incident inside the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station tunnel.

Photo Credit: Adam Tuss, NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Scandals Mar First Day of Va. General Assembly]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 19:23:38 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP100202124945.jpg

A cloud of controversy hung over the Virginia General Assembly as the 2015 session opened.

A Richmond-area delegate who just won a special election Tuesday night is still serving a jail sentence.

Del. Joe Morrissey headed into the Capitol today to reclaim a seat on the House floor, where he's served seven years. He's will be a legislator by day, and a Henrico County jail inmate by night.

Morrissey announced in December he would be resigning after he entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He'd been accused of having a relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office. Morrissey ran as an independent in Tuesday's special election and won back his 74th District seat. He was sworn in Wednesday.

On the house floor, Morrissey was relegated to the last of 100 seats. The House Speaker's opening comments seemed directed at him and the ethics cloud that first formed last year when former Gov. Bob McDonnell was indicted and later convicted.

"Perhaps now more than any time in recent memory, we must be mindful of the trust that our fellow citizens have placed in us – and the expectations, duties and obligations inherent to the positions we hold," said William Howell (R) of Fredericksburg. "Our fellow citizens demand honor, integrity and civility. I would encourage all of us – Republicans and Democrats alike – to renew our commitment to meet those standards."

House Democrats and Repubclians are weighing whether to take punitive acton against Morrissey.

Among their options: Expulsion, censure, or they could do nothing. Fairfax County Delegate and House Democratic Caucus called Morrissey's conduct reprehensible.

"To have a member actively serving jai time and sleeping in a jail cell while trying to legislate by day is something most of us find completely unacceptable," Surovell said.

Morrissey said he's not worried about what's ahead.

"I'm confident in Joe Morrissey," he said. "I'm confident that things will work out exactly the way they are supposed to, just like the election."

Virginia history suggests there is a foundation for that confidence. Disciplinary action in the House or Senate is rare. Surovell said the last time a House member was expelled was 1876, although a State Senator was censured in 1991.

Lawmakers will consider a host of ethics reform bills, prompted by the McDonnell scandal and given more momentum by Morrissey's election.

Several bills would reduce the monetary cap on gifts from $250 to $100 and eliminate the acceptance of trips, meals and tickets. Other proposed measures limit employment of former lawmakers, barring them from accepting certain gubernatorial appointments for a year after they leave office.

"There's no question momentum is great with McDonnell going to jail. This is unprecedented in Virginia history," Surovell said. "I think its really raised a lot of people awareness of theproblems we need to fix. The public has really told everybody here we need to do somethign this year and we need to have stronger laws"

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Christopher Barry Investigated for Alleged Threat]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 19:53:57 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/2015-01-05_1622.jpg

Christopher Barry, the son of late Mayor Marion Barry, is accused of threatening a bank employee who told him his account was overdrawn and of hurling a trash can in a Tuesday outburst.

Barry, who is a candidate to replace his father on the D.C. Council, is being investigated by police over the alleged threat. He has not been arrested.

Multiple sources familiar with the incident said Barry entered a PNC Bank on 7th Street NW Tuesday and got into an argument with bank staff.

He tried to make a large cash withdrawal, but a bank employee told him that it was too much money and that his account was overdrawn, according to court documents.

"You always give me a hard time," Barry is accused of telling the employee, according to court documents. "I'm going to have somebody waiting for you when you get off work, you [expletive]."

According to the documents, Barry then threw a trash can over the security glass, striking and breaking a security camera valued at $1,000.

Barry, 34, has a history of brushes with law enforcement. He pleaded guilty in July 2011 to charges of possession of marijuana and PCP, and he was charged with driving under the influence in 2013.

On Jan. 5, Barry filed papers for the special election to fill his father's Council seat to represent Ward 8. The elder Barry died in November at age 78.

News4 has reached out to Christopher Barry and his campaign for comment. They have not returned the calls.

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Too Many Things to Fix!]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 06:49:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc-flag-shutterstock_206336772.jpg

Taking a look around the region, an awful lot of stuff needs fixing.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is hosting a news conference to say the area has $58 billion — billion — in unmet infrastructure needs. The Council of State Governments, a national group for state officials, lists "infrastructure neglect" as one of its top issues for 2015. It could have been a top issue for the past 20 years, or it could be one for the next 20.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is the current Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments chairman. He asked the regional body to focus on capital projects as a special project while he is chairman. Mendelson last year slashed about $400 million from the District's planned streetcar system, and there are suggestions that D.C. may follow Arlington's lead and drop the citywide system now planned. New Mayor Muriel Bowser already has signaled that she might prefer less costly rapid bus lanes over streetcars.

Departing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority general manager Richard Sarles has warned that buses cost Metro money (maintenance, replacements, personnel) while the rail line makes money for the system if enough people keep riding it. Last week Sarles told the Metro board that "safety is top of mind for all employees throughout the Authority." Monday's tragic smoky incident at L'Enfant Plaza will raise a thousand questions about the status and state of Metro, which insiders say needs far more money than is popularly known.

On Monday, NBC4 reported that the National Park Service is exploring ways to raise fees and impose some new ones to help maintain the C&O Canal National Historical Park. (See the list of proposed fees and information on public hearings to be held through Feb. 5.)

■ Fix Virginia ethics? U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., was among those who sent letters to the judge who sentenced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to two years in prison for his mingling of public duties and private gifts. Kaine said simply that McDonnell in his life had shown examples of mercy and that perhaps the judge could show some to McDonnell.

But on the WAMU "Politics Hour" last Friday, Kaine was more focused on fixing the ethics gap in Virginia. "It's made worse because the Virginia ethical rules are so lax," Kaine said during the show. The former governor noted that a Newport News delegate also had been sentenced to prison in a separate case.

"When you have two convictions like this it ought to make the legislature get serious," Kaine said. "I do believe Gov. [Terry] McAuliffe and the General Assembly will fix the glaring weaknesses. A lax ethical culture can contribute to bad behavior." The legislature starts Wednesday.

■ Fix Maryland's Democrats? There are still bitter feelings from Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's astounding loss in last year's governor's race. Republican Larry Hogan takes office Jan. 21 after one of the biggest upset wins in the nation.

Washington Post columnist Robert McCarthy last week interviewed outgoing Gov. Martin O'Malley, who had hoped a win by his lieutenant governor would bolster his own still-fledgling presidential ambitions. As he has been a few times before, O'Malley was critical of the Brown campaign.

"They made a tactical decision not to defend the [O'Malley] record or talk about it," he told the columnist. "And we saw the results that we saw." Brown has quickly faded from view after his colossal loss. He made a cameo appearance at D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's inauguration Jan. 2 but kept a low profile.

"You have to offer an affirmative economic message to the voters," O'Malley continued with McCarthy. "If you give voters a choice between a Democrat who promises to do nothing and a Republican who promises to do nothing, they're generally going to side with the Republican, because they’re better at that than we are."

Maryland Democrats would be smart not to nominate a 2018 candidate who campaigns in a bubble, as many observers say Brown did.

■ Fix the schedule gap? The District and its neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia have a lot of issues in common, from our polluted rivers to transportation concerns (and the financial instability of Metro) to economic competition, among others.

So it was potentially significant when Mayor Bowser and Virginia Gov. McAuliffe held a meeting this past week, a meeting that appeared on neither official's public calendar. Mayor Bowser tweeted out a photo of the two posing in a restaurant, and a bare-bones message: "I just had a great lunch with @TerryMcAuliffe where we discussed ways to grow the region's economy." Bowser's staff said the omission was an unintentional oversight, but it still was odd that both leaders kept the meeting secret.

■ Fix the statehood insult? Once again, there is an effort to get President Obama to include a call for D.C. voting rights and/or statehood in his State of the Union address Jan. 20. Someone alert the Notebook if that happens. He’s zero for five so far.

■ Fix your decorations. Your holiday decorations were lovely. We're now into the third week of January. Take it all down. The stores already are displaying Valentine's candy. You don't want to be left behind. Do you?

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

<![CDATA[McDonnell Ordered to Prison Despite Appeal]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 11:48:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009125982_1200x675_383696451710.jpg A judge has denied a request from former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell to remain free on bail during the appeal of his corruption conviction.]]>