<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]> Copyright 2016 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, 08 Feb 2016 22:53:11 -0500 Mon, 08 Feb 2016 22:53:11 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Primary Time!]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 18:55:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

Finally, New Hampshire voters head to the polls, Italian President goes to Washington and the Dems hold another debate.

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<![CDATA[Former DC Mayor Gray Running for Ward 7 Seat]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:05:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Vincent-Gray-AP_247605509720.jpg

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has entered the race for a seat on D.C. Council. 

Gray announced his plans Thursday to run for the Ward 7 seat.

Gray lost his chances for a second term as mayor when Muriel Bowser defeated him in the Democratic primary. He lost in part due to a long-running federal probe into a shadow campaign scandal that helped elect Gray mayor in 2010. In December, prosecutors ended that probe without charging Gray.

"When people ask why I am returning to the campaign trail, I tell them, 'Because we have a lot of work to do. If we don't do it, who will?'," Gray said Thursday. 

Gray previously served on the Council, representing Ward 7 and as Council chairman before he was elected mayor.

Gray had been publicly eyeing the At-Large seat held by Democrat Vincent Orange and his old Ward 7 seat, now held by Yvette Alexander. A professional poll paid for by Gray supporters last month showed Gray is popular in his home of Ward 7, leading Alexander 48 percent to 32 percent.

Asked if a Ward 7 campaign was just a warm-up to running for mayor in 2018, Gray said no.

"There's no way I would do this as some way to seek retribution," he said. "There's too much work to be done in this city."

The Democratic primary will be held on June 14. Gray will file paperwork in the next few days. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Bill Targets Out-of-State Toll Violators]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 05:43:00 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/ez+pass+pic.JPG

Virginia lawmakers are looking to crack down on toll violators who live out of state.

A bill that was advanced by a House subcommittee this week would allow Virginia to enter into enforcement deals with other states so that people who aren't paying their tolls can be penalized, WTOP reports.

The states would be able to share information about toll cheaters who haven't paid so that officials in the drivers' home state could prevent them from renewing their vehicle registration.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has estimated that 200,000 drivers who live outside of Virginia owe the state about $8.8 million in tolls, penalties and fees.

Officials say the largest number of out-of-state toll violators in Virginia live in Maryland and Washington DC.

<![CDATA[DC Program Will Give Children Books From Birth]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 06:04:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GenericBooks.jpg

A new program in Washington, D.C. will give area children free books for the first five years of their lives. 

City officials will launch the "Books From Birth" program Thursday. 

The early childhood literacy program will mail a book to each child in the District every month from the time they are born until they area 5 years old. The program will also connect families with resources and educational information at the city's public libraries. 

Click here if you're interested in participating in the program. 

Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former DC Mayor Gray Planning Run for Council]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:53:56 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Vincent-Gray-AP_247605509720.jpg

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to announce Thursday that he's ready to run for office again -- this time, for the D.C. Council.

There's no question that Gray loved being mayor, and that he was popular. But Gray lost his chances for a second term when Muriel Bowser defeated him in the Democratic primary. He lost in part due to a long-running federal probe into a shadow campaign scandal that helped elect Gray mayor in 2010. In December, prosecutors ended that probe without charging Gray.

Gray will be on the WAMU Kojo Namdi show at noon Thursday to announce his expected run for the D.C. Council. Gray previously served on the Council, representing Ward 7 and as Council chairman before he was elected mayor.

Gray has been publicly eyeing the At-Large seat held by Democrat Vincent Orange and his old Ward 7 seat, now held by Yvette Alexander. Sources say Alexander's Ward 7 seat is Gray's choice.

"I have my eye on Ward 7," Alexander said. "I'm continuing to do the work, so you know, I'm going to continue to do the things that I do no matter who runs, whether it be Vince Gray or not."

A professional poll paid for by Gray supporters last month showed Gray is popular in his home of Ward 7, leading Alexander 48 percent to 32 percent.

At-Large Democrat Vincent Orange has kept an eye over his shoulder for a possible Gray challenge. The same poll showed Gray leading Orange 49 percent to 26 percent.

"I have a clear path to victory on June 14; that's the only thing I'm focused on, and I don't see [Gray] or anyone that's not registered in that path," Orange said.

But Bowser isn't anxious to see Gray back on the Council -- Orange and Alexander are both strong supporters of Bowser. With his deep knowledge of the city government, Gray could be a tough adversary for Bowser on the council.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[10 DC Schools to Have Extra Month of Classes Next Year]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:57:41 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Classroom-Generic1.jpg

Some Washington, D.C. students will spend an extra month in class starting next year. 

Ten elementary and middle schools will participate in an extended year program for the 2016-2017 school year, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday.

Raymond Education Center, a school in northwest Washington, served as a pilot site for the program this year. 

Students at the participating schools will spend 200 days in class next year. D.C. Public Schools students currently spend 180 days in school per year. Classes will begin in early August and the school year won't end until mid-July.

Students also will have shorter winter and spring breaks. There will be an added week off in October, and there are two weeks called intercession, when coming to school is voluntary.

Intersession is "time to focus on interventions and support for our most struggling students," said Kaya Henderson, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, at a press conference Wednesday. "One of the interesting tidbits about Raymond is that 96 percent of the kids are coming to intercession." 

The following schools will participate in the extended-year program:

  • Garfield Elementary School (Ward 8)
  • H.D. Cooke Elementary School (Ward 1)
  • Hart Middle School (Ward 8)
  • Hendley Elementary School (Ward 8)
  • Johnson Middle School (Ward 8)
  • Kelly Miller Middle School (Ward 7)
  • King Elementary School (Ward 8)
  • Randle Highlands Elementary School (Ward 7)
  • Thomas Elementary School (Ward 7)
  • Turner Elementary School (Ward 8)

"The students at these 10 schools will have more time in school to learn, grow and excel," Bowser said on Twitter Wednesday.

School leaders do not plan to expand the program to all schools, Henderson said. "It is not something that is going to be extended to all schools because not every school community wants or needs that," she said.

Reaction among students was, predictably, mixed. "When I first heard it I was like, 'Oh no, no,'" one student told News4.

"I think it's going to be good -- it will help our grades, because some people might need it," said another.

The cost of the extended year is about $5 million per year. 

The Washington Teachers' Union, which represents D.C. teachers, said late Wednesday that it supported "extended learning" for students -- but that it was "vehemently opposed" to an extended-year plan imposed by the District without negotiation with the union.

“This should not be a debate over more versus less time, the statement reads. "It should be a collaboration focused on how we reinvent the current school day and year.” 

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: So, Metro, Where You Going?]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 05:47:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/093015+metro.jpg

Have you stopped using the Metrorail transit system?


It’s not reliable or quick? It’s bad enough on weekdays, maybe worse on weekends? “Track work,” whatever that is, always seems to be happening on the line you’re using? The newest line — Silver — was hobbled by snow? You’re sick of non-working escalators and/or elevators?

And worse, whether you are young or old, you are feeling or starting to feel unsafe? Yes, when the train breaks down, but even more from the threat of serious violence and harassing crime?

You are certainly not alone.

The new chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board says he hears you.

“The whole [safety] element of the system and your feeling safe has to be addressed,” said Jack Evans, speaking Friday on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU “Politics Hour.” Evans, the Ward 2 D.C. Council member, said a lot more after being elected Metro chair last week:

  • “Public transportation works when two things exist, when it’s inexpensive and convenient. And Metro is neither.”
  • “Riders must have confidence [the system] is safe.”
  • “No fare increases. I will not support any fare increases while I am on the board.”

Evans said on the “Politics Hour” that he would support a simpler fare system, if the finances can be worked out, with maximum fares of maybe $5 for suburban rides and $2 in the city.

“You have to be a mathematical wizard with a computer to figure out these fares. It’s crazy,” he said. “Why not make it simple. You would fill your subway cars.”

Reports of more crime on Metrorail, specifically groups of young people screaming vulgarities and intimidating riders, could scare away even more riders.

But where are police? Metro Police Chief Ronald Pavlik says he has a force of fewer than 500 officers with a 10 percent vacancy rate. That’s for a rail system of 117 miles and 91 stations, not counting the expansive bus system.

Evans said riders must “have confidence it’s going to be safe. It may mean that we’re going to have to add additional police officers; I think that’s what we are going to have to do on Metro.” Even the subdued lighting in rail stations, initially seen as groundbreaking, is now seen as too dark. Brighter lights are coming.

Evans recalled the more hopeful days of Metro’s past. When he served on the Metro board from 1992 to 1999, “Metro was a shining example of regional cooperation,” he said. Now, “15 years later, we are anything but.”

Evans wants to help mend professional and personal strains among the 16-member board to ease management woes.

But mostly he wants to lend a strong hand to new general manager Paul Wiedefeld, who Evans says “knows what needs to be done.”

It’s not like Metro needs to fix this or that — it basically needs to fix everything: organization, finances, management, labor and infrastructure. You can arrange those in any order you wish.

Before he became chair, Evans said he went to a recent community meeting in Ward 2, where he is running for re-election. He said 13 of the 15 questions were about Metro, not the ward.

In the cruelest cut of all, Evans told the “Politics Hour” that Metro today reminds him of the near-bankrupt District government in 1995 when a federal control board took over city finances. “We have to show Congress and the jurisdictions that we can run this system,” he said.

That means Evans will approach Congress for operating funds, but not anytime soon. As much as 70 percent of rail riders in rush hour can be federal workers, Evans said. But Congress won’t be likely to support Metro operations for the first time if its reputation reminds everyone of the old D.C. government.

A management shakeup is necessary, Evans says, but the system also can’t continue to absorb soaring labor costs.

“Over the years, the contracts we have lost either by arbitration or entered into have produced a situation where all of our labor issues are the most expensive of any system in the country,” Evans told us. “I know the contracts are up and they will be coming back looking for increases, et cetera. If we don’t raise fares, which we are not going to do, the money has to come from somewhere if we are to agree to these changes.”

Evans and the Metro board don’t have a full plate — they have a full platter or two.

■ Costs of snow. WTOP radio reported that Metro lost about $7 million in revenue because of the big snowstorm, in part because of riders not showing up or the free rides offered on Monday. Metro still is adding up the overtime and other operating costs. General manager Wiedefeld said he expected the total to be “significant.”

■ Another surplus. D.C. officials on Monday announced a surplus of $293 million for the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30. It is the 19th year in a row of audited balanced budgets. And this audit is the first with no major accounting suggestions.

The city now has about $1 billion in its required reserves — a far cry from the days of near-bankruptcy and federal control in the 1990s.

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

<![CDATA[Campaign Workers Pose as Volunteers for Opponents in MD]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:25:02 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/159977439.jpg

A candidate for Congress fired two campaign workers accused of posing as volunteers for his opponents in Maryland’s 8th District.

Montgomery County businessman David Trone confirmed to News4 Tuesday workers posed as volunteers at the campaign of Kathleen Matthews and Jamie Raskin. Trone said he fired those workers and their supervisor.

Matthews’ campaign manager sent a letter to Trone’s campaign manager documenting an incident in which a man named Joseph offered to volunteer for Matthews and was sent out to canvass Monday. He raised suspicion when he returned in just 45 minutes with a completed walk packet, according to the letter.

Matthews’ campaign called the voters on Joseph’s walk list and learned he hadn’t knocked on their doors. The campaign then identified him as a staffer for Trone’s campaign.

Raskin told Bethesda Magazine his staffers noticed a young volunteer’s bizarre behavior with a large group of volunteers.

“I called Kathleen Matthews and Jamie Raskin to apologize and to assure them that this activity is unacceptable and contrary to how my campaign will operate,” a statement from Trone read.

Matthews, Raskin and Trone are running for the Democratic nomination for the seat of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is running for Senate.

Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Gov. on Gun Deal: 'My Job Is to Keep Virginians Safe']]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:17:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013538532_1200x675_613732419574.jpg

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the gun control leaders who don’t like the gun deal he struck with Republicans last week are more interested in a national agenda.

“My job is to keep Virginians safe,” McAuliffe said.

That's why he was willing to make a deal on gun regulations, he said.

“I have a state of Virginia agenda,” he said.

The compromise plan does not close the so-called “gun show loophole” but does put state police on site to do voluntary background checks for private sellers.

“Would I have loved mandatory? Sure,” McAuliffe said. “Hell will freeze over before I get this General Assembly to pass mandatory, so I did the next best step I could do.”

Perhaps more significant, a measure to require anyone subject to a long-term protective order to give up or sell their guns.

“We are becoming only the 16th state in America to take guns away from individuals under protective order,” McAuliffe said. “This is Virginia. This is historic.”

But McAuliffe's plan also gives gun rights supporters a big win: Pulling back a plan to stop honoring concealed carry permits from other states.

Lori Haas, who has worked for tighter gun laws ever since her daughter survived the Virginia Tech massacre, said the governor gave up too much.

”Clearly opened a big, big, wide door and given the gun lobby a very strong footing to two of their top goals: Permit-less carry and blanket reciprocity with every state in the nation,” said Haas, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Legislators are moving the bills forward. Some will get an initial vote Tuesday.

<![CDATA[DC Mayor Promotes All-Boys High School Ahead of Opening]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 20:08:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013537188_1200x675_613678659629.jpg D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke Monday to prospective students of an all-boys high school set to open this fall in Northeast D.C. "You'll have a great opportunity for leadership and to learn how to be men," she said. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.]]> <![CDATA[DC Fire Lt. Can't Retire Without Review After Child's Death]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 18:45:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+Fire+EMS+Ambulance+Generic+Night+2015.jpg

The D.C. fire lieutenant set to retire with benefits after a 1-year-old boy died from choking on a grape under his watch has been told he cannot retire before he appears before a review panel, a D.C. fire department spokesman said.

The lieutenant was charged in July with neglect of duty, incompetence and failure to provide assistance to the public after the little boy died in March.

Earlier this month, he was poised to retire with a full pension because the department failed to enact a new regulation mandated by D.C. law, as News4 reported.

The toddler began choking the morning of March 13 on Warren Street NW, just three blocks from Engine 20 on Wisconsin Avenue.

A 911 call was received at 8:36 a.m. and paramedics arrived on the scene 11 minutes later, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser previously said. The 911 call center did not send the closest available unit.

An internal review found the lieutenant in charge of Engine 20 that morning did not properly notify dispatchers of the status of his medical units, which delayed the emergency response. The 49-page internal report also said first-responders were having trouble with new computer tablets, and the lieutenant was not familiar with the new technology.

The little boy died days later in the hospital.

The lieutenant filed for retirement in December, D.C. Fire and EMS department spokesman Tim Wilson said. He was scheduled to appear before a trial board in February.

After D.C. firefighters refused to help a man dying outside a firehouse in 2014, the lieutenant in charge also retired in order to avoid discipline. D.C. Council passed a law to close the loophole, but officials with the D.C. fire department failed to implement the law, Wilson said.

<![CDATA[Activist's Death Ends 35-Year White House Peace Vigil]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 19:58:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/Concepcion+Picciotto.jpg

Concepcion Picciotto, who maintained a protest outside the White House for more than 30 years, died Monday.

Tourists, D.C. locals and anyone who walked by the White House could see Picciotto’s protest camp in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Picciotto, known to many as Connie, had maintained the anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons vigil since 1981.

D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton praised Picciotto’s determination and upheld her as an example for activists pushing for D.C. statehood.

“At a time when people ask me whether I think we will ever achieve statehood, I think of extraordinary activists like Picciotto, who recognized that there is no progress without activism,” Norton said in a release. 

The Washington Post reports Picciotto was staying at N Street Village, a housing facility for women, when she passed away. 

After Picciatto's death, fellow protesters organized to replace her at her vigil, Neil Cousins said Thursday as he manned Picciotto's encampment.

If the encampment is ever not occupied, by law the National Park Service must remove it.

Picciatto's lawyer, Mark Goldstone, said it would be decided Monday if the encampment would be maintained or if it would be donated to a museum or history project.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Washington Post Celebrates Grand Opening of Offices]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 19:25:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/012816+washington+post+new+office.jpg The Washington Post celebrated moving into new headquarters in downtown D.C. "I think I speak for [D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser] and [Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan] -- we love reading the Post. I'm not saying we love reading it every single day," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe joked at a grand opening ceremony Thursday. News4's Tom Sherwood reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Lanier Not Interested in Job With Chicago Police]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 06:05:33 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Chief+Cathy+Lanier+011516.jpg

Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier turned down an opportunity to lead the Chicago Police Department.

Chicago officials reached out to Lanier to gauge her interest in the job, a Lanier spokesperson told News4. Lanier respectfully declined to be considered for the job.

Chicago has been searching for a new police superintendent since Garry McCarthy was fired.

McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel came under fire after dash-cam video of police shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Lanier has been with the Metropolitan Police Department since 1990, the past nine years as chief. She holds master’s degrees in management and national security.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Weary With the Weather]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:55:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-506456772.jpg

We’re just six weeks from the first pitch in spring training for the Nats.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is eight weeks away.

And... none of that helps.

You’re about three minutes away from being frustrated with our big snowstorm if you’re not already there.

Whenever there’s a big snowstorm, there’s a pattern in the reactions.

First there are hints of a big storm and meteorologists flail their arms across their maps telling you what might happen.

Then a few days out, we’re all told what probably will happen.

Then it happens. The snow falls.

There are cancellations and calls to stay off the streets to let first responders do their job.

A storm of reporters fan out over the area — ignoring the call to stay inside — to report on the storm’s effects and to relay the government message to stay inside.

There are warm stories about neighbors helping neighbors, and tragic stories of wrecks and emergency births and, unfortunately, reports of heart attacks for people exerting themselves with too much shoveling.

At first, the news conferences by mayors, county executives and governors are positive and upbeat. Everyone is prepared, but everyone is urged to be cautious. In extreme instances, whole interstates are shut down for safety reasons, as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did for I-270.

A couple of days pass.

The brilliant white snow starts to turn a sickly gray as pollution and road dirt take their toll. Along with the changing color of snow, attitudes begin to change among the masses.

They’re tired of staying home. The kids are restless. The big haul of provisions is starting to run low. The snowplow has not made it down this street or that street.

“We expect the [complaints] to increase after Day 3,” said one veteran of the cycle. “We just have to keep pushing and hope there aren’t many screw-ups.”

But nerves will be on edge, and complaints become the next storm.

At the start of the week Mayor Muriel Bowser clearly was anxious to get the nation’s capital back open for business. She announced that the city government would return to work on Tuesday and schools, barring a setback, would open on Wednesday.

Downtown, our NBC4 cameras on Monday captured a snowy wonderland of potential misery. Despite aggressive snow removal efforts, many multi-lane streets were barely one. Piles of snow on street corners made it difficult to drive, park or even turn corners.

Many private businesses link their leave policies with the District. If it closes, those businesses close. If the city opens, the businesses open.

The Notebook is hoping that Mayor Bowser’s decision to get the city moving again doesn’t result in thousands of angry drivers. Your Notebook again drove around Tuesday morning downtown and in neighborhoods, seeing many cleared streets but many multi-lane roadways with one lane open at best. The federal government remained closed Tuesday, a big help for continued snow removal.

If all goes well into the weekend, the mayor mostly will be praised and thanked.

If it is an ongoing mess, it will become a political storm for the mayor to handle next.

■ A good sign finally. It was late in the game, but the Bowser administration finally got an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing on Saturday morning. The interpreter is serving an important part of our community. Our region is more and more diverse, and so should be our outreach.

■ Soccer “stadium.” The reviews are in. And social media has not been kind.

Many people don’t like the new D.C. United soccer facility for Southwest Washington. The word “stadium” doesn’t seem to fit too well. It looks more like a couple of old-fashioned grandstands facing each other.

On last Friday’s WAMU Politics Hour, D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner told us the team committed as part of the deal to spend $150 million on the facility, matching the city’s $150 million investment.

It will be interesting to see the cost breakout of the design that’s been presented. A few people say the stripped-down stadium will be perfect for soccer, bringing fans closer to the action. We’re all for fans being closer to the action, but we hope the soccer stadium is better than its first reviews.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[If You Dig Out a Parking Spot, Can You 'Save' It?]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 20:26:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/012616+parking+spot+saver.jpg

If you shovel out a parking space, is it yours, or does the time-honored rule of "no savesies" apply?

As the D.C. area continues to dig out from under record snowfall, some drivers are clearing street parking spaces and then setting out chairs, tables and other objects in an effort to ward off other drivers.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier urged drivers to not try to reserve public parking spaces.

"When people try to start saving that space, we start to see little tensions flare up between neighbors," she said. "Nobody does have the legal right to save their own space on public streets."

Fights over "saved" parking spaces have led to violence. A man in Boston was shot Monday after witnesses say he moved a parking space saver and parked his car.

D.C. driver John Gerrety said he wanted to protect his hard work. He placed a chair in a spot he cleared.

"I think anybody who sees something here will know I spent time and energy digging myself out," he said.

What's he going to do about it if someone does take the space?

"If I'm here, I might do something about it. But if I'm not, what am I gonna do?" he said.

Driver Marena Wood said she wouldn't put out an object to try to save the space she cleared, but said she was still possessive over it.

"If anyone takes it, you better watch out," she said with a laugh.

Other drivers said they were counting on karma to get a spot.

"It's gonna be a free-for-all," Kayla Johnson said as she shoveled out her car. "If someone else takes it, hopefully there will be another spot I can take."

Like the police chief, the director of the District's emergency management agency also told drivers they cannot reserve public parking spots.

"People need to get their cars out, they're gonna dig 'em out, it's a lot of work, it's heavy work, but you don't own your space," Chris Geldart said.

"This is a debate that's going to rage on as long as there are cars and snow," News4 reporter Mark Segraves said Tuesday as he sat in a plastic chair in a parking spot.

"D.C. law is clear -- no savesies," he said.

<![CDATA[DC Mayor Sorry for 'Inadequate Response' to Inch of Snow]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 09:55:55 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Muriel-Bowser-AP_816174278725.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser apologized Thursday for the city's "inadequate response" to an inch of snow and ice that crippled the capital city Wednesday night ahead of a major blizzard expected to arrive Friday.

Wednesday's snowfall ground D.C. traffic to a halt, leaving drivers stranded in hours of traffic and causing some to abandon their vehicles. Even the president's motorcade fell victim to slick conditions, sliding around and bumping curbs on the way to the White House from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

"To the residents of the District of Columbia, we are very sorry for an inadequate response," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a news conference Thursday morning. "We believe that we did not provide adequate resources at a time when it could make a difference in last evening's commute."

Bowser said the first road crews were dispatched around 4 p.m. Wednesday, about an hour before the first flakes began to fall.

According to D.C. Department of Public Works Director Chris Shorter, however, many roads were quickly coated and stayed slippery throughout the evening commute.

"We should have been out earlier with more resources. We have a responsibility, and last night we did not meet those goals. For that, I'm very sorry," Bowser said Thursday.

The mayor assured residents the city will be prepared for a blizzard that could bury D.C. in up to 2 feet of snow Friday through Sunday. She called Wednesday's snow response "a pretty significant problem" and a "key learning" experience.

Bowser declared a state of emergency and said the city is treating the storm as a Homeland Security/Emergency Management event. A snow emergency will also take effect at 9:30 a.m. Friday, allowing the city to move cars parked along snow emergency routes.

Crews have already begun pre-treating roads and are prepared with a fleet of plows, loaders, excavators, dump trucks and 39 tons of salt, Bowser said, adding that city officials are coordinating with FEMA and the National Guard.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[White House Time-Lapse: Snow Hits D.C.]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 09:56:08 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013424335_1200x675_607400515877.jpg Over a foot of snow has fallen at the White House, and the snow is still coming down. Check out this time-lapse video of the snowfall at the White House. ]]> <![CDATA[Va. Gov. on State's Readiness Ahead of Storm]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:41:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/187*120/Terry+McAuliffe21.jpg Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called into News4 Midday to talk about the state's readiness ahead of what could potentially be a historic blizzard.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DC Officials: Be Inside By 3 p.m.]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:28:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013396202_1200x675_606780995854.jpg District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking residents to "hunker down'' and "shelter in place.'' The mayor said at a Friday morning press conference that snow is expected to start arriving between 1 and 3 p.m., a little earlier than reported Thursday. Christopher Geldart, director of the District of Columbia's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, asked residents to be where they plan to be for the storm by 3 p.m. Friday. ]]> <![CDATA[DC Government, Schools Closed Monday]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 09:54:44 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013442178_1200x675_608016451508.jpg D.C. government will be closed Monday in an effort to keep off the streets and out of the way of the cleanup effort. Tom Sherwood reports.]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Where’s Waldo, er, Wal-Mart?]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 06:54:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Walmart_Las_Vegas.jpg

Before even laying a brick, mega-retailer Wal-Mart pulled the plug last week on two promised stores for the District.

The pullout reminded us of the late Jerry Reed’s country music hit back in 1982, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft).”

Wal-Mart walks away with three operating stores in the city while the District government is left to scramble for replacement retail just as the national economy, or at least the stock market, seems to be tanking.

Retrenching, refocusing and reconsidering are all part of profit-making businesses. But the Wal-Mart decision in the District is especially cold-blooded.

Although it has opened the other stores, the two it dropped were in the neighborhoods that most desperately need quality jobs and reliable retail and grocery options — the long-neglected Skyland Center on Alabama Avenue SE and the Capitol Gateway project on East Capitol Street near the Maryland line.

After NBC4 first broke the story, an angry Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters she was “blood mad” at the company’s decision. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, who brokered the original deal for six stores, was furious, too — and not just because he’s about to launch a D.C. Council comeback attempt for a seat either in Ward 7 (home to the two jettisoned sites) or at-large.

The Bowser administration, which doesn’t want to see Gray back in office because he’d likely run for mayor again in 2018, notes that Gray didn’t nail down one of his signature deals.

Wal-Mart says it’s undergoing an international restructuring, and one representative told The Washington Post that the D.C. stores already operating are seriously underperforming projections.

Whatever the balance sheets may be, Wal-Mart as a company has damaged its relationship with the city. Truth be told, our city is not even a pimple on the cheek of this retail giant with a market value of about $230 billion. Wal-Mart will move on with its mega-restructuring. City lawyers are promising to search for legal penalties, but Wal-Mart has lawyers, too.

The District needs to rethink how it structures such commitments to retail projects. Your Notebook on several occasions reported that the Skyland Wal-Mart seemed to be going nowhere despite an ambitious “groundbreaking” in 2014 that Gray desperately wanted.

While Gray was still mayor, the Notebook on several occasions kept pointing out that once he left office, Wal-Mart would not feel pressure to continue with Skyland. It remains to be seen how Bowser will deal with the company now.

Last year, to remove a final hurdle Gray left unfinished, the city agreed to pay Safeway about $6.4 million to compensate it for Wal-Mart's expected across-the-street competition for grocery sales.

Wal-Mart also had played a role in the city’s minimum wage battles. It threatened to abandon D.C. stores if the council approved a “living wage” requirement — then $12.50 an hour — for big-box stores. The measure failed. Now, the prospective workers for the unbuilt Wal-Marts won’t get minimum wage or anything at all because those jobs are gone, too.

■ A Jerry Reed side note. The “I Got the Shaft” country singer died just a few years after that hit. The cause? Emphysema. Smoking. He was 71.

If you follow the Notebook on Twitter (@tomsherwood), you’ve seen how we criticized the glorification of cigarettes by entertainer David Bowie, who died last week of cancer at the age of 69. Even a laudatory photo spread in The New York Times of his fashion style included three photographs with ubiquitous cigarettes in hand.

Other media outlets offered similar images despite the killer reputation of cigarettes. Just this past week, the Notebook learned of a friend our age who smoked for years and now has been diagnosed with deadly cancers.

Too many addicted smokers either shrug off warnings of cancer ahead, or offer weak responses like, “I know, I know. I’m going to quit.” And some say, “I’ve quit a dozen times.”

But they don’t quit, they’re just pausing until the next time. If they get a next time.

■ See something, “save” something! Almost everywhere you look in our city there is new construction. But the DC Preservation League doesn’t want to lose historic or other significant buildings to the bulldozer or neglect.

“Demolition by neglect and permit violations are a matter of public safety and also stand to destroy the character of our historic neighborhoods and the city’s built heritage,” the organization said in a news release last week. “Action is required to ensure that fines and penalties effectively curb the frequency of these issues.”

The league is asking the public for help in finding properties that it might highlight in its annual listing of endangered places. Take a look at this online link: tinyurl.com/DCPLproperties.

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

<![CDATA[Compare Presidential Candidates on the Issues]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:11:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/candidates-grid.jpg


New England Cable News reached out to each presidential campaign for its position on select issues. Candidate positions from official campaign websites were used for the campaigns that didn't respond; those cases have been indicated in the graphic. 

Note: Some of the responses have been edited for clarity and length. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[DC Program Offers Rebates for Security Camera Installation]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 16:57:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013321395_1200x675_602487875698.jpg D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed legislation that would provide rebates to property and business owners who install security cameras and register the system with police department. News4's Molette Green has more on the program. ]]>