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Morning Read: Troubles and Political Fights Still Surround Silver Metro Line

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There are still many issues, controversies and political squabbles surrounding the expansion of the Metro to Dulles International Airport.

Steven Pearlstein of the Post writes in his weekend column that Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors’ handling of the extension of Metrorail out to Dulles Airport is the perfect example of why government has become dysfunctional.

He reports that a majority of the newly elected, all-Republican board has threatened to derail the extension because of a requirement that the general contractor for the project negotiate a “project labor agreement” with local construction unions.

"No, what’s truly astonishing is that Republican politicians would even consider killing a project of such overriding importance to their county, their state and the Washington region just to stick it to labor unions and their Democratic allies.

What we’re dealing with here is yet another example of government by hijacking. If we don’t get everything we want, we’ll kill the project, we’ll close the government, we’ll put the U.S. Treasury into default. As the infamous general said in Vietnam: We had to “destroy the village in order to save it.”

In this poisonous political atmosphere, every little disagreement becomes a test of wills that must be fought until a total victory is won. It’s not about what’s good for the country, or the state, or the county — it’s all about politics and winning."

Columnist Robert McCartney of the Post also weighed in on the Silver Line project, asking how many times will the Washington area have to call in U.S. Transportation Security Ra LaHood to referee its squabbles before finally agreeing to the extension.

"LaHood had to get involved last year, as well, when internal disputes over costs threatened to kill the project. He brokered a deal that trimmed the price tag by about $1 billion.

The secretary plans to retire at the end of this year, so we probably can’t depend on him to bail us out a third time. If our region is finally going to achieve the eminently desirable goal of linking our biggest airport to our principal mass-transit system, then we will have to mature sufficiently to solve these problems for ourselves."

* Applicants who were rejected from the District’s medical marijuana program are asking the courts to force the reconsideration of their submissions, claiming they were rejected by a review panel despite meeting or exceeding stated criteria, according to The Washington Times.

Three firms filed a combined five civil complaints to challenge the way the D.C. Department of Health reviewed their applications to open a marijuana cultivation or dispensary center.

In late March, six applicants were approved to register to grow medical marijuana in the city.

According to the Times, health officials are now scheduled to approve up to five dispensaries where the drug is actually doled out to patients on June 25

* Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley may create a commission to study the expansion of gambling in the state—a move, The Washington Examiner reports, that could delay efforts to have gambling issues placed on the November ballot.

The commission would study some potential issues of adding a sixth state casino in Prince George’s County.

But according to officials and analysts, creating a commission or panel to study gambling could be a political static to stall the issue and prevent it from making it onto the November ballot.

* As part of the $43.9 million in amendments Governor Bob McDonnell made to the two-year, $85 billion state budget, he included a provision to treat state legislators and statewide elected officials the same as state employees regarding pension contributions.

The amendment would require elected officials to contribute 5 percent of their income toward the state pension, offset by a 5 percent increase in compensation when constitutionally permitted.

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the governor proposed revisions in his amendment to a 3 percent performance bonus for state employees in November 2012, calling for it to be funded through savings from state agencies. He also suggested adding an addition $1 million each year to the budget for the Governor’s Motion Picture Opportunity Fund.

In all, McDonnell proposed 17 amendments to the budget that outlines spending through June 30 and 88 amendments to the budget that runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014, the RTD reports.

* Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Day Dinner, where he still didn’t endorse Mitt Romney but accepted that he would be the nominee.

VIA Des Moines Register:

“I expect to be campaigning for Romney as soon as they ask me. But they haven’t asked yet,” he said in an interview. Cuccinelli is a Republican candidate for governor in Virginia. Both of his GOP primary opponents have endorsed Romney.

* President Barack Obama launched his re-election campaign Saturday with Rallies in Ohio and Richmond.

About 8,000 people were at his rally at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, according to The RTD..

The president said Romney will “rubber stamp the agendas of conservatives in Congress and spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and stop the regulations of Wall Street’s “reckless behavior.”

VIA RTD:

"But Virginia, I tell you what, we can't give him the chance. Not now. Not with so much at stake. This isn't just another election. This is a make-or-break moment for America's middle class," he said to an eruption of applause.

*

The Washington Examiner

writes that Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine—former state governors and the two main Virginia senate candidates—will likely “ride the coattails” of their respective party’s presidential nominees in a key Senate race that will help decide which party has control of that chamber.

 

 

Polls show Allen and Kaine in a deadlock, while President Obama leads Mitt Romney—a potentially good sign for Kaine.

Successful Virginia Democrats tend to be more moderate than their Washington counterparts, meaning their appeal to independents is greater. Republicans, like Allen, emerge from primaries more conservative. In that respect, Kaine is more likely to appeal to a Romney voter than Allen is to an Obama voter.

"Kaine has a slightly better chance if Romney wins Virginia but only if its by less than a few thousand," Skelley said. "It's easier to imagine a Romney-Kaine voter than it is to imagine an Obama-Allen voter."

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