<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usFri, 01 Jul 2016 02:31:23 -0400Fri, 01 Jul 2016 02:31:23 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: The Car…No Longer Never Wrong ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 05:53:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Bike-Lane-Generic-2015.jpg

Bicyclists and pedestrians who are injured on city streets will have to wait longer to come out of the legal shadows.

The D.C. Council was set to vote Tuesday on a bill that would give cyclists and pedestrians more power to sue for damages should they be in a wreck with motorized vehicles. But Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie successfully won enough support among his colleagues to postpone a vote on the bill until July 12, after his move to withdraw the bill was overturned.

Currently, a pedestrian or cyclist cannot claim damages if they are partially at fault for a collision. It’s called “contributory negligence.” If you are a pedestrian standing just off the curb and are hit by a vehicle, you cannot successfully sue, even if the vehicle driver was drunk and speeding. If a cyclist happens to be turning left improperly and is hit by a driver running a red light, the cyclist can’t sue because of contributory negligence.

“If a cyclist or pedestrian is even a little bit at fault,” Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh told NBC4, “they cannot recover against the [automobiles] that really cause the injury. That’s it. They’re out.”

Under the Cheh measure, such cases would be more evenly decided. Plaintiffs (cyclists and pedestrians) would not be barred from seeking damages unless it is clear that the cyclist or pedestrian is the true cause of the wreck/injury.

Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association told NBC4 that the current law “allows the insurance industry to completely deny coverage to an injured person, and we think that should change.” Billing said, “This is a big change. This recognizes that when people who are walking and biking, if they get injured, they should be fairly compensated for their injuries.” He also said 46 states have the more-fair system of assigning blame.

Some representatives of auto insurance companies say the new law could raise insurance premiums for drivers by as much as 23 percent. Wrecks no longer would be slam dunk cases for drivers.

There are more bicycles and more pedestrians in our rapidly growing city. The supremacy of the automobile and other vehicles has to be more measured with the growing population. Cars are no longer king. Adjusting laws affecting responsibility is just a start in changing city laws to recognize all forms of transportation.

■ Statistical note. The District has about 1,600 incidents of pedestrians or cyclists being injured or killed each year. The new bill redefining contributory negligence still must be passed by the council, signed by the mayor and be passively approved by Congress.

■ Fun. We’ll be heading to the Republican National Convention in mid-July. Beyond the fact that many establishment Republicans are not going (we’re looking at you, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan), there’s fear of massive anti-Donald Trump demonstrations and even disruption of the convention floor.

■ Stamping your feet? Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen is trying to upend how labor disputes are settled by the county government.

Under current law, a mediator and arbitrator — often the same person — is empowered to make sweeping decisions about compensation and work rules. The county has lost about 75 percent of recent cases.

Floreen wants to change the system. She has proposed a bill that establishes a three-person panel to review labor disputes with county employees. Unions representing county workers say the proposal is an attempt to “gut” labor unions.

Asked about the union opposition during an appearance on the WAMU Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour last week, Floreen dismissed the union leaders’ criticism, saying, “Their job is to stamp their feet.”

Not the most conciliatory description to bring about change.

■ Trump and Virginia. Also appearing on the Politics Hour was Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, the Virginia state leader of the Trump campaign. Stewart, who also is running for governor next year, says despite Trump’s sometimes controversial remarks, the presumptive nominee has tapped into a real disquiet among American voters.

Stewart supports Trump but is not without a few misgivings and disagreements. For example, Stewart thinks the Trump proposal to ban Muslims temporarily is too sweeping. About 7 percent of Prince William residents are Muslim; Stewart said they are valued members of the county’s communities, and any sweeping ban of Muslims is just not realistic or fair.

■ A kinda final word. The Notebook was pleased to emcee a recent celebration honoring Richard Bradley of the Downtown Business Improvement District. In the late 1990s, Bradley, in his friendly but determined manner, helped create and run the first BID in the city in an area that desperately needed it. The watch words back then? The downtown area was dirty, desolate and dangerous.

Now, it’s the polar opposite. There is life day and night, seven days a week. The Verizon Center hosts 220 events a year. The Downtown BID’s staff of hardy workers patrol the streets picking up trash, directing lost tourists and generally being alert to any mischief they see.

Bradley and Joe Sternlieb, who now runs the Georgetown BID, were early partners in the turnaround that the city enjoys today.

Our congratulations to Bradley, who is officially stepping down from the BID but says, “I’m not going anywhere.” He said he’ll still work on a variety of projects to make the District’s downtown even better than it is.

Maybe he’ll do something about the choking traffic that is becoming more of a threat downtown to the very success that’s causing that traffic.

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

<![CDATA[Former DC Congressman Released From Jail]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:48:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062816+walter+fauntroy.jpg

The civil rights activist and former D.C. congressman arrested Monday on a charge of passing a bad check for $50,000 was released Tuesday afternoon from jail in Virginia.

Walter Fauntroy, 83, grinned as he carefully walked out of the Adult Detention Center in Leesburg, Virginia. After nearly five years living in the Middle East and Africa, he hugged his wife. 

"He's in a great mood. He's glad to be home," family spokeswoman E. Faye Williams said at a news conference. 

Fauntroy did not speak there. His wife, Dorothy Fauntroy, only said she was "relieved." 

Fauntroy was granted release from a jail in Loudoun County, Virginia, after he agreed to appear next month in court in Prince George's County, Maryland, court documents show.

The former right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was detained at Washington Dulles International Airport after he arrived from Dubai about 8:15 a.m. Monday. He traveled extensively for years, pursuing vaguely described business opportunities. Loved ones expressed concerns about his health.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers saw there was an outstanding warrant bearing Fauntroy's name and took him into custody, an agency spokesman said. Fauntroy was accused of fraud, writing a bad check in Prince George's County, and failing to appear in court.

Fauntroy told The Washington Post in a phone interview last week that he was coming home and believed the bad-check issue had been resolved.

The check was written in the amount of $50,000, according to a representative for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. It was intended to help pay for a 2009 ball he had organized for President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Attorney Arthur Reynolds, who is representing Fauntroy in the bad-check case, said Monday he had not yet spoken to Fauntroy and could not comment on the case. He previously said Fauntroy had paid some of his debt.

Fauntroy was held for Maryland law enforcement in Loudoun County, where part of Dulles is located. 

He served in Congress for 20 years, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and founded the Free South Africa movement. 

News4 reported in January that Fauntroy's family and friends said the former pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. had gone missing. Dorothy Fauntroy told News4 she wanted her husband to come home.

Barnes and others were trying to find Fauntroy and persuade him to return. A small group of loved ones is preparing to raise money to help pay Fauntroy’s debts.

According to bankruptcy documents filed in March 2015, Fauntroy had been traveling for years and had little contact with family or friends. Longtime associate Johnny Barnes filed bankruptcy papers on behalf of Fauntroy and his wife to stave off the foreclosure of their home in Northwest D.C.'s Crestwood neighborhood.

Upon his return to the country, Fauntroy was eager to eat American food, Williams said on his behalf. He asked for a hamburger, french fries and a Coke, she said.

Fauntroy is due back in court July 20.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: A Bridge Too Far Gone?]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 06:05:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/2016-AP_588951409736.jpg

Monday was a beautiful day to spend along the Potomac River where the Arlington Memorial Bridge stands, its nine graceful arches belying the rot under the bridge.

“We just took a pretty sobering tour,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., calling it “the most vulnerable bridge in the whole federal system.”

Warner, Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser took a tour Monday of the underbelly of the bridge that was built to last a maximum of 75 years but now is in its 84th year and showing its age.

Despite millions of dollars spent to shore up the Memorial Bridge, it in fact needs a $250 million total makeover. It carries about 68,000 vehicles a day and could be at least partially shut down within five years if repairs aren’t made.

“If you think the challenges we’re going through with Metro right now are significant,” Warner said at a news conference held by the officials adjacent to the bridge, “you close down the Memorial Bridge for an extended period of time, and you’ve got total gridlock.”

Given that the bridge is an integral part of the nation’s capital, the Virginia suburbs and the federal security presence, it demands repair.

“There could be no more important project to devote federal dollars to than this,” Kaine said, waving his arms in frustration.

Mayor Bowser noted the District itself is growing rapidly, and the bridge is a vital part of the regional transportation network.

The bridge is owned by the National Park Service. As the Notebook has reported before, the Park Service does not have funds for the bridge or much of anything else. It has nearly $12 billion — billion — in unfunded capital needs throughout the nation.

Mayor Bowser has joined with Virginia officials to request a federal “fast lane” appropriation of money to get the repairs started by late next year. The city and Virginia would redirect some of their federal money to help fund the project. Warner said the region should hear within a few weeks whether the bridge repair will get the official go-ahead.

■ Beach Drive closures coming soon. We’ve also reported about the millions of vehicles that travel the 6.5 miles of Beach Drive through the heart of Rock Creek Park. It is another Park Service project. The two-lane stretch of roadway is worn out. It hasn’t been resurfaced since 1990 and is way overdue. Park Service officials told NBC4 they hope to start a resurfacing project by the end of the year and may have an announcement soon.

The plan with the Federal Highway Administration includes five phases, work that will require motorists, especially commuters, to make alternate travel arrangements.

■ Unity breakfast or food fight? We predict polite expressions of unity, although you know the media would love to see a biscuit or two tossed around.

We’re talking about the D.C. Democratic Party’s traditional unity breakfast that occurs after each primary election. The next one is on Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Busboys and Poets at 5th and K streets NW.

Mayor Bowser has confirmed she’ll be there. That’s important because three of the four Bowser candidates on the ballot lost their council races last week. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, who lost his re-election bid as mayor to Bowser in 2014, returned the favor by beating Bowser ally Yvette Alexander in Ward 7. Gray has confirmed he’ll be at the breakfast.

Gray told the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour last week that he wasn’t elected to the council “to throw stones” at Bowser. He says he’ll work with the mayor and against her, based on his view of what her policies do for Ward 7. Anyone who knows Gray knows he harbors resentment over losing the mayor’s race, but anyone who knows Gray also knows that he will be measured in opposition. It wouldn’t do him any good to be an embittered council member.

Even close allies of Mayor Bowser say she took a tough hit in the primary election and will need to start working to mend fences and build support for her re-election effort that will begin by the summer of next year. Bowser told NBC4 last week that she will indeed be open to Gray and all the other council members as issues come and go.

One good way to start would be to make nice at the breakfast. And let’s hope the food is good. It usually is at Busboys. So that’s reason enough to get up early.

■ Graceful exit. At-large D.C. Council member Vincent Orange likely will show up Thursday. He lost his race to newcomer Robert White. Orange was graceful in congratulating White, and Orange said he felt like he had served the city well for 11 years.

Orange, Alexander and LaRuby May in Ward 8 (she lost to Trayon White) all will serve out their terms until Jan. 2, 2017. The winners in the primary still have to go through the formal general election in November. That’s plenty of time for the table of D.C. politics to be reset.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Push for Funds to Repair D.C.'s Memorial Bridge]]> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 21:11:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160620+Memorial+Bridge.jpg

The Arlington Memorial Bridge is one of D.C.'s most famous entryways, a grand connection between the monuments in D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery.

It's also rotting and rusting, in desperate need of $250 million in renovations to keep it open. Sitting in the doorway to the nation's capital, it's a constant reminder to some lawmakers of the money that's needed to reinvest in the nation's infrastructure.

If the money isn't found, officials say, the bridge could shut down by 2021.

"This is the most vulnerable, threatened bridge in the entire federal inventory," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. 

He toured the bridge on Monday, joined by Va. Sen. Mark Warner, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Bob Vogel, regional director of the National Park Service's National Capital Region.

Warner said the bridge was expected to have a lifespan of 75 years when it was built. It's currently 84 years old.

Area leaders say the bridge, which carries 68,000 vehicles a day, is vital to the whole national capital region.

"it's not just a matter of convenience," Bowser said. "It's also about safety. How do we get people in and out of the city safely and around the city safely?"

The problem is that the bridge belongs to the federal National Park Service, which can't afford to fix it. Local governments are contributing their federal funds to help win more federal dollars for repairs that could start late next year or 2018.

The money would ensure "that we don't end up with a bridge closure, which would be an economic and traffic nightmare," Warner said.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Democratic Convention Is Saturday]]> Sat, 18 Jun 2016 15:00:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015117525_1200x675_708205635716.jpg Democrats are holding their Virginia state convention Saturday. Attendees will select their delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this summer. After the convention is the Jefferson Jackson Dinner; U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is the dinner's honored guest.]]> <![CDATA[Poll: Clinton, Trump Locked in Close Race in Virginia]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 01:07:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/split2-clinton-trump-somber.jpg

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running neck-and-neck for the vote in the battleground state of Virginia, according to the results of a poll released Thursday.

Clinton won 42 percent of voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling, the group said. Trump won 39 percent. The results have a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The poll taken in the days following the shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday surveyed 1,032 registered voters between Monday and Wednesday.

The results suggest that Clinton is having trouble winning the support of Bernie Sanders' supporters. About 68 percent of Sanders' supporters said they would vote for Clinton. Twelve percent of voters were undecided, 8 percent said they would vote for Trump, and 12 percent said they would vote for third-party candidates.

"If Clinton could get even half of those Sanders fans who are currently holding out right now to vote for her, her lead would expand from 3 points to 9," the polling firm said in a statement. 

Voters also were surveyed about gun laws. Nearly 90 percent of Virginia voters polled said they support background checks on all gun purchases, compared with 8 percent of voters polled who oppose the checks. That figure includes support from 93 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of independents.

PPP also asked voters, "Do you think Barack Obama was involved in the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday, or not?"

Eighty percent of people polled said they did not believe Obama was involved. Eight percent said they did believe Obama was involved. Twelve percent of people were not sure.

Of the voters polled who had a favorable opinion of Trump, 59 percent explicitly ruled out Obama's involvement in the Orlando attack that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub. Eighteen percent of people said they did believe Obama was involved. And 23 percent said they were not sure.

Dozens of demonstrators shouting "Love conquers hate" gathered in downtown D.C. Thursday. Trump was in town to give a deposition in a $10 million lawsuit involving the hotel he is building on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Democratic Primary Changes Political Landscape for DC Mayor]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 20:40:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+Mayor+Muriel+Bowser+GettyImages-492469062.jpg

Tuesday night was a rough one for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser as three of her allies on the D.C. Council lost their Democratic primaries, and former Mayor Vincent Gray's comeback could spell even more trouble.

Bowser wasn't on the ballot, but the political landscape changed for her with Gray defeating Council member Yvette Alexander in Ward 7, Trayon White winning Ward 8 over Council member LaRuby May and Council member Vincent Orange losing his at-large seat in the primary against Robert White.

“Voters came out to speak, so we will look forward to working with new members of the council,” Bowser said.

Gray lost the 2014 mayor's race to Bowser during an investigation of his 2010 campaign. His Ward 7 win offers some vindication, and now Bowser must face him on the council.

“That’s how I worked with him when he was the mayor, and so that's how legislatures and executives work,” she said.

Appearing on WAMU radio Wednesday, Gray said he could put aside personal feelings of his 2014 loss to Bowser.

“I don't have any intention to simply use this as an opportunity to throw rocks or to poke at Mayor Bowser,” he said.

But Gray won't rule out a possible run for mayor, and he said the three council losses were a statement of Bowser's poor leadership.

“It seems to me that it's a repudiation of some of the things that have occurred over the last year and a half,” he said.

Council members who congratulated Gray Tuesday night said the mayor may have to work with a less compliant council on homeless, crime and other issues.

“I think the council will actually be more cohesive with these wins because I think that you’ll have the greater independence of judgment,” Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) said.

“We’ll get, hopefully, a more deliberative body that's independent thinking and not just looking for votes,” Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) said.

New council members don't take office until Jan. 2, giving Bowser time to adjust.

<![CDATA[Maryland Governor Says He Will Not Support Trump]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 01:08:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/061516+larry+hogan.jpg

Gov. Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, will not back Donald Trump for president, he said Wednesday.

Asked if he would support the party's presumptive nominee, he shook his head.

"I'm not a supporter of Donald Trump, I'm not going to endorse Donald Trump, and I'm not going to get involved in the campaign," he said.

Hogan supported New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's candidacy for president. When Christie suspended his campaign and threw his support behind Trump, speculation arose that Trump might consider Christie as his vice presidential running mate.

Would Hogan support Trump and Christie as a package deal?

No, he said.

Speaking after a visit to Prince George's Community College, Hogan also said he would skip the Republican National Convention, set to be held in Cleveland in July.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Life, Liberty and…Death]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 06:03:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/orlando-GettyImages-540006698.jpg

It was just one moment on CNN in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting.

About 8:45 a.m. Sunday, a law enforcement official being interviewed by CNN was describing the horrific duty of those entering the Pulse gay nightclub and tending to the carnage that lay before them.

The person being interviewed said in the eerie silence, cellphones of the dead were going off. Urgent beeps, sometimes-comical rings and flashes of light from panicked family members and friends who would hear no answer.

He said the public safety responders inside could not and would not answer those phones. There was nothing they would be able to tell any caller at that terrible moment. Your Notebook, already trying to comprehend the slaughter, had not thought of our ubiquitous phones: on the other end of all those lines, those family and friends struggling with the horror of not knowing, as the cellphones would just ring and ring and ring.

■ Loving wins. Even as the LGBT community — and the rest of America — dealt with death in Orlando, there was an anniversary from the history books this past weekend. It was different, but it gave reason for hope that laws and attitudes can change. Although the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in June 2015, there obviously is more than pocket resistance to the equal rights of gay people.

It was not so long ago that straight people of different races could not marry in many states.

But on June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute — the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 — was unconstitutional, a violation of the equal protection clause.

The case involved Mildred Loving, a black woman, and her husband Richard Loving, who was white. They had been married in the District of Columbia in 1958. Faced with a year in jail or leaving Virginia, the couple returned to the District, where they ultimately filed suit in federal court against Virginia.

Interracial marriage was violently opposed in Virginia and many other states. Individuals were marginalized and attacked. It is one of many sad chapters in America’s past. On this past weekend of July 12, 2016, with hatred bleeding on the floor of an Orlando nightclub, it was just a little comforting know that Loving v. Virginia did change the law and ultimately minds. People of goodwill will wish that for our LGBT community, too.

■ A sidewalk message. In the Dupont Circle community on Monday, someone hastily scrawled the message, “DOWN with the Gay agenda.”

It was spray-painted in blue adjacent to the Thaiphoon restaurant in the 2000 block of S Street NW. But the Borderstan blog reported that the original didn’t remain long. Someone using red paint sprayed over the word “gay” with the word, “gun.” So the slogan read, “DOWN with the Gun agenda.” That likely got a lot more heads nodding in agreement.

And there even was a little more creativity. Someone suggested the original graffiti should have been left alone, except for adding “I’m” on the front of it. Then, it would have read, “I’m DOWN with the Gay agenda.” The ultimate message to haters: Don’t mess with the D.C. sidewalks.

■ Statehood revival? The first of three meetings was held Monday night to draft a new constitution for the District if it were to become the 51st state of New Columbia. It’s a far cry from the months and months and months of debate that went into the city’s 1980s effort. District citizens approved a statehood effort in 1980 by 60 percent, and it took two years to write the constitution that went nowhere in Congress.

But Mayor Muriel Bowser is trying to jump-start a new statehood movement. The draft constitution is a simple document modeled after the city’s current home rule government. Bowser wants a proposed statehood constitution to be submitted to the Board of Elections in July and on the ballot in November. Assuming voters will pass it — a good assumption — Bowser intends to send the constitution to Congress early next year as part of a demand for statehood if the Democrats take back the Senate (and perhaps the House, too, but that is a long shot).

The New Columbia Statehood Convention will meet again on Friday at 6 p.m. and on Saturday at 9 a.m., both sessions at Wilson High School. Many activists say the process is not long enough or open enough to citizens for serious deliberations. Bowser doesn’t want the proposal to become mired in local and possibly petty fights that might derail the whole thing.

“We absolutely have been taking public comments for the last week and a half that we put on the New Columbia Statehood Commission website,” Bowser told NBC4’s Mark Segraves. One issue is whether to create a legislature bigger than the current 13-member council. “We’ll hear some more conversation about that,” Bowser said.

Some of the most active activists are worried the constitution will be rushed and not well-thought out. But they are trying to be cooperative.

“I want this process to work,” tweeted Josh Burch, one of those activists. “We deserve a great constitution that reflects our principles, values & aspirations. We coulda done better.”

■ D.C. Democratic primary. Results came in too late for this Notebook deadline. But if you’re seeing this early Wednesday, former Mayor Vincent Gray — who ran for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat yesterday — is scheduled to be on Wednesday’s Kojo Nnamdi show at noon on WAMU 88.5 FM. Your Notebook will be there asking questions.

■ Who is Jim Vance? Come hear the veteran NBC4 anchor talk about his life and career Friday at 7 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. He’ll be interviewed by yours truly and NBC4 reporter Mark Segraves as part of our “All Politics Is Local” series. A few seats are left — reserve yours at hillcenterdc.org/home/programs/2885.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-DC Mayor Trying to Win Back Ward 7 Seat From Incumbent]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:11:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Gray+Alexander+Signs+at+Dennys.jpg

Voters will decide Tuesday whether former mayor Vincent Gray will return to the D.C. Council.

Polls in the District opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

Gray is trying to win back his Ward 7 council seat from incumbent Yvette Alexander.

Both candidates campaigned at the Denny’s restaurant on Benning Road NE Monday.

“Ward 7 seems very supportive,” Alexander said. “I’ve been here, and there’s still a lot of work to do, so I’m excited about tomorrow.”

After Alexander left, Gray arrived for his turn, but suddenly Alexander was back, circling near Gray outside, heckling inside.

Gray -- seen leading the race by many -- focused on the families inside and ignored Alexander.

“We've worked very hard during this campaign in order to make sure voters know what we stand for, the issues important to the people here in the ward,” he said.

Some diners told News4 the Alexander was rude to follow Gray back in to the restaurant.

“Well, it’s a campaign,” Alexander said. “I think it's rude that he's running against me.”

Gray once had the Ward 7 seat before becoming council chair, then mayor. He endorsed Alexander when she first ran for the seat in 2007, then she backed him in his primary for mayor in 2013.

Gray has more endorsements, particularly organized labor, and more money. Mayor Muriel Bowser endorsed Alexander, a reliable vote on the council.

D.C. voters also will decide candidates in an at-large race and three other ward races. The seat of chair of the Arlington Board also is being challenged.

D.C. Council At Large
Incumbent Vincent Orange, who returned the council in 2011 after previously serving as the Ward 5 Council member from 1999-2007, faces two challengers. David Garber, 32, of Shaw calls himself a real estate project manager. Robert White, 34, of Brightwood Park, has been serving as director of community outreach for Attorney General Karl Racine. White is making his second try for an at-large seat. He ran the first time as an independent. Mayor Bowser endorsed Orange.

Ward 4
When Bowser became mayor, Brandon Todd won a special election for her seat on the council. She endorsed him then and has done so again. His main challenger is Leon Andrews, an urban planning specialist who came in third in that special election two years ago. Calvin Gurley and longtime ANC Commissioner Ronald Austin are also running. Gurley is a perennial candidate for several races. Austin is a newcomer.

Ward 8
In the election to replace former Mayor Marion Barry, LaRuby May beat Trayon White by less than 100 votes, and they’re facing off again. White is a former member of the State Board of Education and a staffer for Attorney General Karl Racine. May is strongly backed by Bowser.

Arlington Board
Arlington Board Chair Libby Garvey has been in public office there for almost 20 years. Her seat is being challenged by Erik Gutshall, a planning board member who received a number of endorsements from people wanting change. If Gutshall wins he will not take Garvey’s place as chair. The board would among the members for chairmanship. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Many D.C. voters also will cast their ballots Tuesday in the final Democratic primary election in the nation. Bernie Sanders held a campaign rally in the District last week, the same day President Barack Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton after she clinched the nomination.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[DC Will Hold Final Primary of Campaign Season]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 08:14:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TLMD-hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-EFE.jpg D.C. Democrats will cast their vote for the presidential nomination on Tuesday. Watch Reporter's Notebook Sunday for more on the D.C. primary.

Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Speaking at Northwest DC Conference]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 11:21:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DonaldTrump-AP_16160060488984.jpg

Donald Trump, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Carly Fiorina are among the speakers at the Road To Majority conference in D.C. Friday.

The three are speaking during a 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. session at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park.

The three-day conference, which closes Saturday, is being held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Following the conference, Trump will head south to a rally in Richmond at the Richmond Coliseum. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 8 p.m. rally. Tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hogan Declines to Say if He'll Vote for Trump]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 06:02:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/larry+hogan.jpg

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan still won't say if he'll vote for Donald Trump.

Hogan was asked three times at a news conference Thursday about the presumptive GOP nominee. He says: "I'm not interested in talking about Donald Trump any further.''

He also declined to say whether he thought the billionaire was fit to be president.

Hogan is a Republican governor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

In a March interview with The Associated Press, Hogan said he didn't think Trump should be the nominee and had "no idea who I'm going to vote for.'' He also said he has no plans to attend the Republican National Convention next month.

Hogan says he believes he's talked about the issue "ad nauseam,'' and his thoughts haven't changed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Auditor Finds Dead People, Other Errors on DC Voter Rolls]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 09:10:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014999591_1200x675_701716547604.jpg

A report by the D.C. auditor sharply criticizes too many errors -- including dead people -- on the city's voter registration rolls.

With the Democratic presidential primary and local races on next Tuesday's ballot, plenty of people were voting at the Dorothy Height Library in Ward 7 Wednesday, including 22-year-old Robin Smith with her mother and grandmother. It’s a family tradition.

“I believe every person should come out,” said Smith’s grandmother, Doris Ann Porter. “Nobody should have to encourage anyone.”

“I've only missed one time and that was when I delivered my daughter,” said Smith’s mother, Robin Porter Smith.

But when Robin Smith tried to vote, she wasn't listed despite voting there before.

“And she had to do a special ballot,” her grandmother said. “I don't understand that.”

The new auditor report says there are too many voting roll mistakes -- including dead voters.

“There are lots of duplications,” D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said. “There are lots of folks who are deceased and should be removed from the rolls.”

Even properly registered voters have address or other errors, Patterson said.

“One of our concerns is the scrubbing of the voter rolls,” she said.

The city has about 440,000 registered voters.

At the elections office, officials say there's a new three-member board, which takes the audit seriously but is busy with Tuesday's voting.

“Once we're done with the June 14 primary, we'll be able to submit a response to the audit,” Margarita Mikhaylova said.

Patterson urges everyone to vote despite the problems.

<![CDATA[DC Mayor Asks DNC to Add Statehood to Platform]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 08:01:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/220*120/20160608Bowser.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked the Democratic National Committee to add D.C. statehood to its platform Tuesday.

The DNC held its Mid-Atlantic Democratic Platform Forum in the first event of a series that aims to engage a variety of voices from the party. Bowser took the opportunity to present the issue of statehood.

“Despite the fact that we perform all the functions of a state, Washingtonians do not enjoy the rights of all Americans,” Bowser said.

She pointed out that residents in the District pay federal taxes and fight in the military. But with one congresswoman without voting power and no senators, D.C. does not have adequate representation, she said.

And while residents of the District elect local government officials, Congress can override elections and overturn laws passed by those officials. Bowser said this was a violation of residents’ rights.

“We are Washingtonians, and we are Americans too. And we want to be considered just like every other American,” she said.

Bowser said the issue of statehood should go beyond politics. She said the District needed help from all 50 states to fix the inequality.

“Access to democracy is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” she said. “It’s an American issue.”

In April, Bowser advocated adding a ballot on the statehood issue to the November election. She also released a draft of a constitution for the District in May and set plans to hold a constitutional convention June 17 to 18.

But Bowser said in order to pursue statehood, D.C. needs support from the Democratic Party.

“We share the belief that all men and women are created equal,” she said. “No matter the color of their skin, who they love, their native tongue, or certainly, no matter where they live.”

<![CDATA[Fairfax County Considering 4 Percent Tax on Meals]]> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 10:31:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_167577659.jpg

Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to put a meal tax referendum on the ballot this November.

If approved, Fairfax County residents would vote on a measure that calls for a tax of as much as 4 percent tax on prepared foods at restaurants and at grocery stores, such as those from a deli or salad bar.

The tax would include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served with a meal. The tax would not apply to groceries or to food purchased at vending machines.

The tax is estimated to bring in almost $100 million to Fairfax County.

There is currently no meal tax in the county.

Fairfax County's government website said Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and the city of Fairfax also have 4 percent meal taxes. The District's is 10 percent.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Highlights From the 2016 Campaign Trail]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:17:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16181063167338-campaign.jpg The 2016 presidential race has been contentious and full of surprises, with candidates fighting to the finish in superdelegate states. Check out scenes from the campaign trail and keep track of the candidates as they vie for a spot on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2016.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[People Gather to Watch Clinton's Historic Night]]> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 23:34:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014985482_1200x675_701094467792.jpg News4's Shomari Stone talked to people as Hillary Clinton becomes the first female presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.]]> <![CDATA[Fairfax County Voters to Decide on Meals Tax in November]]> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 21:47:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014983949_1200x675_700954691604.jpg The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved putting a meals tax referendum on the November ballot.]]> <![CDATA[DC Council OKs Plan for Homeless Shelters Throughout City]]> Tue, 31 May 2016 18:18:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20150517+DC+General.jpg

D.C. Council approved a plan Tuesday to close the large and aging D.C. General homeless shelter and open new sites in almost every ward.

The plan would house homeless people in new family shelters built in almost every ward on public-owned land. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser had originially proposed closing D.C. General and building shelters on privately owned land. Council changed the plan to build the new shelters on land that was owned by the city; that could save taxpayers more than $100 million, according to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

But the mayor has contended it will delay closure of D.C. General. 

The change led to a heated battle that included the mayor cursing at the council chair, a WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle had reported.

"You're a f---ing liar! You know it can't close in [2018]!" the mayor shouted, according to a tweet from Austermuhle.

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