<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:27:15 -0400 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:27:15 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Fussin’ and Fightin’!]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:06:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/177*120/1228943357mLL1.jpg

A group of city leaders joined D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton on Capitol Hill last week.

They were there to denounce Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie for successfully getting the House to pass a bill that effectively would kill the city’s gun control laws.

To everyone’s surprise, as reported by NBC4’s Mark Segraves, Massie showed up at the news conference to listen.

But only one speaker singled him out.

“And seeing the face of Mr. Massie as he participated in this press conference has been quite sickening to me,” said Kimberly Perry, a look of disgust on her face. Perry is executive director of DC Vote, the lobby group seeking voting rights in Congress for the city’s 650,000 residents.

Massie told reporters afterward that violent crime had gone down in the District since six years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city’s absolute ban on private handguns.

Several participants on the Hill, including Massie, said they were confident the Senate would kill the House measure. But Norton wasn’t so sure in this midterm election year. “I’m not confident of anything. I’m not confident that the Senate is going to do the right thing.”

■ You want fries with that? President Obama, who’s best known locally among some for dining in the city’s various restaurants or grabbing a quick lunch at our more popular carryouts, commented on the District’s lack of statehood this week.

“I’m in D.C., so I’m for it,” Obama replied to a question during an event Monday. “I’ve long believed that folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else,” The Hill newspaper quoted the president as saying.

Obama noted that national politics makes any real effort for D.C. statehood “difficult.”
Nonetheless, the president’s comments won praise from DC Vote’s Perry, who was much happier to talk about Obama than Massie.

“President Obama’s support ... shows that he understands the injustice we face every day,” she said in a statement. “The President has repeatedly proposed greater autonomy for DC, only to see those proposals die because of partisan squabbling in Congress. We hope the administration will now request that its Senate allies hold a hearing on the DC statehood bill.”

■ More praise? Obama also was praised this week by Norton for signing the executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no federal law on this subject.

■ Hobby Lobby high-five? Well, kinda. The owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores won national attention when they won their Supreme Court battle to limit contraception insurance coverage for their employees because of the owners’ religious beliefs.

That recently prompted Wayne Bensen of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out to “strongly urge” District officials to make it as difficult as possible for Hobby Lobby to get all the permits it needs to build a private National Bible Museum in Southwest D.C. (the old site of the Washington Design Center).

Bensen wrote that the project near the National Mall “would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship.”

Well, throwing up administrative hurdles didn’t go over so well with local activist Rick Rosendall, who is president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“There is no legitimate basis to block it,” Rosendall wrote this week in the Daily Kos. “GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents’ First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground. … We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us.”

Goodness, we better not let that kind of high-mindedness catch on. Maybe even the warring members of Congress might start working together. And then, what would the mean ol’ media report?

■ Bowser’s rough week. The Washington Post has run a series of stories on what some see as Ward 4 D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser’s tepid — or political — response to physical and financial mismanagement at the 700-tenant Park Southern apartment building in Southeast on Southern Avenue.

The Post stories leave the impression that Bowser, chair of the council’s housing committee and the Democratic mayoral nominee, was more interested in the rights of private managers (her political supporters) who were displaced than those of the low-income or no-income tenants.

Bower disputed the media reports and characterizations. She said she called for an Inspector General investigation once she learned more details. Still, that report likely would come long after the Nov. 4 general election.

Bowser asked to be on the Kojo Nnamdi “Politics Hour” Friday on WAMU 88.5 FM to discuss the incident and her campaign for mayor, but her explanations didn’t seem to dissuade host Nnamdi.

“It seems to me,” Nnamdi said near the end of the interview, “there are 700 people who are living in this property who need help and attention now!”

And Post columnist Colbert I. King also wrote about the controversy on Saturday, noting aggressive criticism of Bowser by rival mayoral candidate David Catania. King’s headline and final sentence on Saturday were stinging.

“Is Muriel Bowser going to bat for the taxpayers or her backers?”

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

Photo Credit: Washington City Paper]]>
<![CDATA[Primary Voter Turnout Hits Historic Low]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:06:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007255966_1200x675_311159875867.jpg Mark Murray joins Aaron Gilchrist in the studio to discuss why voter turnout for primary elections has fallen in 25 states. Murray suggests that American voters are tuning out.]]> <![CDATA[President Faces 'Delicate Diplomatic Situation']]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:14:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-18_1312.jpg NBC News political reporter Carrie Dann discusses President Obama's approach to the crash of MH17 in the Ukraine, specifically how the delicate diplomatic situation between the U.S. and Russia will effect his next moves.]]> <![CDATA[First Lady to Host 2014 Kids' State Dinner ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:03:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/michelle+obama9.jpg

First lady Michelle Obama will hold the 2014 Kids' State Dinner Friday.

The event, which is in its third year, will recognize 54 winners from the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

Contestants were asked to create a healthy, affordable and tasty original lunchtime recipe using the nutritional guidelines of "My Plate". Some of the winning recipes will be served at the event.

Ten-year-old Maxwell Wix, 10-year-old Ester Matheny and 12-year-old Sophie Haga will represent D.C., Maryland and Virginia, respectively.

You can check out their recipes, along with the other winners, here.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Not Everyone Is Ready for Hillary Clinton: Poll]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:26:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007201704_1200x675_306662979988.jpg Hillary Clinton would crush Vice President Joe Biden among Democrats in a hypothetical presidential match up in 2016 but not everyone is sold on her potential candidacy, according to a NBC News/Marist poll of Iowa and New Hampshire voters. S]]> <![CDATA[House Democrats Unveil 100-Day Action Plan]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:26:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007190686_1200x675_305961539800.jpg NBC News Political Reporter Carrie Dann explains the House Democrats' newly unveiled action plan, as well as some of the issues that matter to the Democratic base.]]> <![CDATA[D.C. Apt. Complex Financial Dealings Probed]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:24:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-16_1555.jpg

Several government agencies, including the IRS, are looking into allegations of financial wrongdoing at a Southeast D.C. apartment complex, the office of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray confirmed Wednesday.

The Park Southern apartment complex has been in the news recently after complaints from residents about living conditions -- and reports of missing money.

Until the spring, the building was run by Joyce Scott and Phinis Jones, Ward 8 political supporters of Muriel Bowser, who chairs the Council's housing committee that oversees government housing.

Park Southern is one of the District's largest affordable housing complexes. The city seized control of the property this spring, but Park Southern owes the District about $628,000 in mortgage payments and interest, according to the Post.

The Post reported:

Tenants... allege in a lawsuit filed in April that [Park Southern board president Rowena Joyce] Scott and the board racked up tens of thousands of dollars in unexplained travel expenses, salaries to nearly 100 people even as residents saw only two or three at the property, and let herself, her daughter and close associates she helped win seats on the board live rent-free.

Gray's office announced Wednesday that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development has reported concerns over Park Southern to the inspector general and attorney general, the Internal Revenue Service, and D.C.'s chief financial officer.

"The level of default around both the administration of the finances as well as the physical property created this unusual situation," said Michael Kelly of DC Housing.

The attorney general is still assessing whether to report to federal prosecutors, according to Gray's office.

Bowser denied Wednesday the Post's allegations she tried to help the former managers regain control of the building, News4's Tom Sherwood reported. The Washington Post reported that Bowser, D.C.'s Democratic candidate for mayor, had asked the inspector general to look into problems at Park Southern.

"The facts are the facts, and if there's anybody who's been accused of wrongdoing, I'm quite sure that the inspector general will get to the bottom of it," she said.

But Council member David Catania, who is running as an independent against Bowser in the mayoral race, says she's just trying to save face after protecting her political ally.

Scott had initially backed Gray in the Democratic mayoral primary this spring before throwing her support to Bowser, the Post reported.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Gray's office initially announced that the U.S. attorney's office was investigating. It then issued a correction.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more.

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: A No Sale at Eastern Market]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:42:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/219*120/shutterstock_14633161.jpg

Eastern Market almost lost the Notebook as a customer this past weekend.

No more buying colorful raviolis.

No more roasted chicken or fresh flowers.

No more unique bars of soap or Amish goat cheese.

No more summer tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes.

No more impulse purchases from a variety of vendors.

We considered this boycott Saturday when, arriving on 7th Street, we found police chasing away citizens who were out collecting signatures on petitions to get various candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Eastern Market, by the way, is operated by the city government’s Department of General Services.

Your Notebook attempted to take a cellphone photo of one officer who kept turning away from us. Petitioners, some of whom have collected signatures here for many, many elections, were perplexed and, in your Notebook’s view, too passive about this assault on the District’s limited democracy.

The police finally showed us a mayor’s order declaring 7th Street between North Carolina and Pennsylvania avenues to be a special events zone for the street market and adjacent properties. The order forbids any unapproved vending.

Astonishingly, police decided that political petition gathering was “vending.” And although 7th Street was fully open to the public, whether visiting as customers or simply walking through, the police were chasing away citizens engaging in our local politics.

We immediately tweeted the blunt police action. A bit of a furor erupted online. A call was made to the mayor’s office. Surely Vincent Gray didn’t intend this (he didn’t, we’re told). Others got involved, and we were told the policy wouldn’t be enforced.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Tim Krepp, an independent candidate for D.C. delegate in November against Eleanor Holmes Norton, got an email from the market management saying the policy wouldn’t be enforced, but only while the management comes up with new, clearer rules.

And, more astonishingly, another email said those potential decrees might include “rules to allow one campaigner at a time at Eastern Market, for a fee.”

Many would say all this was no less egregious — maybe more so — than Maryland Rep. Andy Harris’ blunt assault on the city’s marijuana decriminalization legislation and our limited democracy. We have enough limitations without creating more. Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells told the Notebook on Monday that he was looking into this curb on democracy, especially the “fee” that might be charged of those doing civic political work. “Ridiculous,” said Wells.

If anyone succeeded in imposing unreasonable limits and a fee on 7th Street for political campaigners, the only option would be just to avoid going there.

None of this should have happened. But at least there is a good-news ending to all of this.

On Monday, we contacted the General Services Department and were happily told that there won’t be restrictions of political petitioners and there won’t be any fee imposed.

“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to sign petitions,” said agency spokesperson Kenneth Diggs. “The word has already has gone out” to police and Eastern Market employees, he said.

A formal policy will be written and available soon.

Your Notebook really likes the offerings at Eastern Market. But none is worth the loss we would have suffered.

■ Evil cigarettes. Wayne Curry is dead at 63. A three-term, forward-looking county executive of Prince George’s County, Curry succumbed to lung cancer earlier this month. In his dying days, after learning of his fatal illness, Curry joined the movement against smoking. But it was too late for him.
At his “going home” services last week, people sang sweet gospel songs and praised his leadership. The pews were filled with both regular citizens and the powerful from throughout the Washington region. Many eyes were filled with tears, and some lamented that they couldn’t get just one more day with this kind and decent man.

But it all went up in smoke. Those who interviewed him said he thought he’d be one of the lucky ones, not one of the 480,000 who die every year from smoking-related illnesses.

The mortality of smokers is three times higher than that of non-smokers, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Smoking has been a known cause of human cancer since the 1960s.

It shouldn’t make us sad that Curry and others die from smoking; it should make us mad. And weeping seems far from sufficient to mark such deaths.

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

<![CDATA[Md. Gov. O'Malley Reports $796K Raised for PAC]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:08:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Martin_OMalley.jpg

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is considering running for president in 2016, reported Tuesday that his political action committee raised about $796,000 in the second quarter of this year.

The second-quarter amount, which represents funds raised from April through June, is significantly higher than the $104,200 O'Malley reported raising for his PAC in the first three months of the year. He did not solicit money during Maryland's 90-day legislative session, which ended April 7.

O'Malley, a Democrat, now reports having about $894,830 cash on hand in the PAC, which is called O' Say Can You See.

O'Malley has a federal account as well as a non-federal one for his PAC. He reported raising about $258,670 for his federal account and about $537,360 in his non-federal account in the second quarter.

He raised a total of about $1.7 million last year.

In addition to his own fundraising efforts, O'Malley hosted fundraising events for some Democratic candidates outside of Maryland and for the Democratic Governors Association, which he chaired for two terms while governor.

O'Malley hosted a fundraising event for New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan in May. He also hosted fundraisers in June for three Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Vincent Sheheen in South Carolina, Mark Schauer in Michigan and Jack Hatch in Iowa, home to the lead-off presidential caucuses.

O'Malley is scheduled to host a fundraiser later this month with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Maryland's Eastern Shore for five Democratic congressional candidates.

O'Malley is term limited. His second term as governor ends in January.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Officials Hope to Locate Undocumented Children Living in the State]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:34:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0715-corey-stewart.jpg

The chairman of the Prince William County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors is hoping to put enough pressure on the county's executive to find out how many undocumented immigrant children are living in the county and what kind of financial impact they could have.

Board Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart said some undocumented children who showed up at the U.S. border have been transferred to Prince William County, and are possibly being housed at "Youth for Tomorrow," a home for troubled teens in Bristow, as well as other locations. 

"The facility told us they entered into a federal contract and that they were going to be housing these children," Stewart said. "They wouldn't say much more than that."

The county board agreed Tuesday to urge executive Melissa Peacor to find out where these children are living, how many there are and if the county has any authority in the situation. 

He's convinced the children will be a major strain to the community. 

“They should be sent back home," Stewart said. "And the reason they should be sent back home is to send the message that if you make that journey to the United States, you’re just going to be sent back home."

Some county residents agree with Stewart, though others do not.

"They are as human as you or I and they probably have the right to live anywhere and especially in this country, the United States of America," Nancy Vancoverden said. 

Federal facilities, many of them in Texas, have been swamped by more than 50,000 unaccompanied children who have poured across the border since October, according to NBC News.

"We have a process for people to come to this country, and it's not swimming across it and introducing yourself to federal agents," Prince William County resident David Baker said.  

News4 tried contacting the "Youth for Tomorrow" facility, but they did not respond to our calls.
Health and Human Services tell us they do not identify shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors for security reasons.

<![CDATA[Obama's Fight to Fund Road Repair]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:45:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-16_0844.jpg The White House is getting behind a Republican-backed bill to fix the highway funding problem in the short term. NBC political reporter Carrie Dann has more.]]> <![CDATA[How Would GOP Suit Vs. Obama Affect Both Parties?]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:17:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-11_1310.jpg NBC News Political Editor Carrie Dann joins Angie Goff in the studio to discuss what the impact of the GOP lawsuit against President Obama would be for both parties.]]> <![CDATA[Border Crisis: Pressure Is on the President]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:47:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007122592_1200x675_301238339787.jpg President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to cope with the Border crisis, but he has said he doesn't want make a spectacle out of the immigration issue. NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray has more.]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: When Andy Met Mary Jane… ]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:27:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/medical+marijuana+stock+cannabis+nursery+hold+seedlings+plant.jpg

It’s a continuing irritant to most District citizens.

Any member of Congress can stick his legislative nose into any local city issue because the U.S. Constitution gives Congress “full legislative authority” over the city.

It doesn’t mean those 535 legislators “should” interfere with home rule, it’s just that they can. (Our own D.C. Del Eleanor Holmes Norton isn’t included that figure, which represents the number of senators and voting members in the House.)

The subject rolls around now because of Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris, of the Eastern Shore.

Harris has held up the city’s marijuana decriminalization law on Capitol Hill. He got the House Appropriations Committee to pass an amendment prohibiting the city from spending any money to enforce the decriminalization law.

It’s not clear at all that the Senate will go along with Harris’ plan. But the Eastern Shore congressman says he fears for the health and future of D.C. youth and other citizens more than the scorn drawn by interfering with local District laws.

The outrage is not confined to D.C. The Baltimore Sun editorial page — which described Harris as a “preening pest” for his Annapolis legislative days and doesn’t think much of him as a congressman — this week assailed Harris’ attack on D.C. home rule.

The editorial noted that Harris is a “tea party acolyte who so often preaches against an overbearing federal government,” even to the extent of opposing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts to clean up pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Yet Harris wants to ban a decriminalization law in the District while Maryland has passed something similar.

Mild-mannered Kojo Nnamdi of WAMU 88.5 FM weighed in on Harris, denouncing “bullying, outside interlopers” who disrespect the District’s autonomy.

Well, if Harris had a legislative heart attack over decriminalization, he’ll bust a true gut over this week’s move to make “Mary Jane” legal in the nation’s capital.

The D.C. Cannabis Coalition on Monday turned in 57,000 petition signatures of registered voters to put legalization on the Nov. 4 ballot. The group only needed 22,445 signatures so it has a comfortable margin. The Board of Elections is expected to review the petition signatures and declare it on the ballot within the next 30 days.

The voter initiative No. 71 would allow possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults. You also could grow as many as six plants. But the initiative does not — not — allow retail sales in stores.
The cannabis coalition was having nothing of Harris’ marijuana maneuvers.

“If Andy Harris wants to represent Washington, D.C., in Congress, he should come here and run for office here,” said Adam Eidinger, who chairs the cannabis campaign.

Eidinger said he expects the ballot initiative to pass and denounced suggestions Congress might overturn it before it can go into effect.

“You know what countries overturn elections?” Eidinger asked Monday outside of the Board of Elections. “China! Russia! Are we going to do this to the people who live in the capital of the United States?”

Unfortunately for the vote-less District citizens, we know what the answer could be.

■ Still waiting. D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania made a trip up to Harris’ office more than a week ago to speak with the congressman. He wasn’t there at the time, and Harris still had not responded as of Monday to Catania’s request for a meeting. Some saw Catania’s move as grandstanding. Others applauded it.

Both Catania and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser voted for decriminalization. Catania said on Monday he’d support legalization. Bowser signed the petition to put legalization on the ballot.

■ Parading on the Fourth. Both Bowser and Catania had big showings during Friday’s Fourth of July parade in the Palisades, though Catania’s seemed larger. Catania’s included a lot of schoolchildren and parents who like his stand on boundary changes. Late-starting candidate Carol Schwartz also walked in the parade, but had a much more modest support group.

We are now three months into the general election campaign, but there still have been no public forums where citizens can measure the candidates side-by-side.

Bowser is maintaining her stance that she is the official Democratic nominee for mayor and the others (Catania and Schwartz) have yet to formally qualify for the ballot by submitting petitions. Those petitions are not due until August, so that gives Bowser more than another month to strategically ignore her opponents.

Normally, that’s a good political strategy to not give any attention to opponents. But in this little city, voters are paying attention to who’s doing what, even if they’re not getting their traditional forum fixes.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Controversial Appointment Could Impact D.C. Soccer Stadium Deal]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:30:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007097518_1200x675_299735620000.jpg

D.C.’s decision on whether to help build a new soccer stadium could be affected by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s decision to appoint his longtime girlfriend to a key panel assessing the soccer deal.

A stadium could be built on mostly vacant industrial land in near Southwest if the D.C. Council approves Mayor Vincent Gray's complicated, $300 million deal. The deal is so complicated the council, which is divided over the project, voted to spend $200,000 to hire consultants to help review it.

Now controversy has arisen over Mendelson's decision to appoint the woman he has lived with for six years, Carol Mitten, as chairman of the small panel that will select the consultants Friday.

In an interview with News4, Mendelson defended picking Mitten, a veteran of land-use issues for local and federal government who now works for the Department of Homeland Security.

“Well, there's no question that’s a risk I chose to take, but Carol is eminently qualified,” he said.

“There's no money involved in this for any of the members of the panel,” Mendelson added. “There's no payment for their participation.”

But the unannounced appointment of Mitten touched off many critical comments within government and inquiries Tuesday by Darrin Sobin, head of the city's ethics office. Mayor Gray's office also questioned the move.

"No doubt she's eminently qualified,” the mayor's office said of Mitten. "The question is the optics of it. There are plenty of people who could do this in the District of Columbia. Chairman Mendelson raises the opportunity for others to question the work of the committee."

Mendelson told News4 he did consider how some might react to the appointment.

<![CDATA[In Md., Pot's Been Decriminalized -- But Not Pipes]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-08_0941.jpg

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council will try to clear up a bit of confusion over Maryland's decriminalization of marijuana.

While the state has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, that's not the case for the type of pipes used to smoke it.

Under the new rules, adults in Maryland caught with less than 10 grams of pot will get a fine, with no jail time, court appearances, or criminal record. However, possession of drug paraphernalia is still a crime.

That means that someone could get in more trouble for having a pot pipe than the pipe itself.

Some lawmakers in Montgomery County see that as a major disconnect, and on Tuesday, the council will take up a resolution to fix it.

The resolution will call on the state's General Assembly to decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia as well.

Advocates say possession of small amounts of pot and drug paraphernalia should be among the county's lowest law enforcement priorities.

<![CDATA[Complete Legalization of Pot Could Be a Long Time Coming in DC]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:32:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/medical+marijuana+stock+cannabis+nursery+hold+seedlings+plant.jpg Polls show the majority of D.C. voters support legalization of marijuana, but as News4's Mark Segraves reports, even if a measure on the November ballot passes, it could be a long time before you can legally "light up" in the district.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia County Official Wants to Know Whereabouts of Undocumented Immigrant Criminals]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:59:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/2991786_WEBCoreyStewartonGeorgeAllensCandidacy_640x480.jpg

A county in Virginia hopes to turn up the pressure on federal immigration officials to reveal more details about undocumented criminals referred by the county for action.

Late Tuesday, supervisors in Prince William County voted to allow the county attorney to file a freedom of information act request to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, asking ICE for the location of almost 7,000 undocumented immigrants who were arrested in the county and then turned over to ICE.

The county leaders are frustrated that ICE won't tell them where the arrested immigrants are -- and if they are deported, or freed.

"I think the public has a right to know what their federal government has done with dangerous criminal illegal aliens that a local government has handed over to them for deportation," said Chairman Corey Stewart, who helped lead a crackdown in 2007 on undocumented immigrants who committed crimes in the county.

Since the crackdown in 2007, more than 6,300 undocumented immigrants have been arrested and referred to federal officials for action, but Stewart complains that 773 -- more than 10 percent -- wound up back in the county and were arrested for new crimes.

"This is a law enforcement issue, a public safety issue about finding the whereabouts of people that are very dangerous," Stewart said.

Some residents back up the call for information. Outside the Chinn Park Regional Library, Toni Kelly said she doesn't think undocumented criminals deserve special privacy protection.

"I think once they've served their time, their names should be on the list just like if you were in the United States," Kelly said. "I don't think they should be exempt because they are less legal."

But library patron Kevin Garbelman sees it differently. He believes there are privacy concerns even for undocumented criminals who are subject to federal action.

"I have to agree with the federal government on this one," he said. "It is personal information, it is private information."

His wife objects to the proposed resolution for a different reason.

"I think the county government and the supervisors spent too much time and money on this issue in the first place," Alicia Garbelman said. "I think they are focusing on an issue that involves so few people in the county. There is a lot more in the county that they should be focusing on instead that's more important."

Immigration officials hsaid they will provide numerical data to counties that ask but will rarely provide details about individuals. ICE public affairs officer Karissa Fraxca Cutrell provided this statement:

“ICE has implemented clear priorities that focus resources on convicted criminals and other public safety threats, those who repeatedly violate our immigration laws and recent border crossers. The federal government places detainers on individuals arrested on criminal charges to ensure that dangerous criminal aliens and other priority individuals are not released from prisons/jails and into our communities. This equates to sensible, effective immigration enforcement in counties across the country.”

Some of Chairman Stewart's critics suggest the Republican is making a push now just to build his political profile and possibly seek higher office. Democratic Supervisor Frank Principi said he'll support the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request but doesn't want to authorize legal action until that process is exhausted. He's among those who believe Stewart is trying to score political points.

"Everyone knows that Corey Stewart's reputation is built on the illegal immigration debate that took place here in 2006 and '07," said Principi. "It's unfortunate we have to readdress this issue in the context of possibly Sen.Colgan's decision last week to retire. Mr. Corey Stewart lives in Sen. Chuck Colgan's district and many of us believe this is politically motivated."

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[How Republicans Can Gain Senate Seats]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:52:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-07_1350.jpg Many lawmakers are coming back from their Fourth of July recess after spending a week in their districts and states preparing for the midterm elections. NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray has more.]]> <![CDATA[Ballot Set to Replace NoVa Delegate]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:18:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_12836902.jpg

The ballot has been set to replace a Northern Virginia delegate.

Residents of north Arlington, Crystal City and McLean will be selecting a replacement for Bob Brink, who represented Virginia's 48th district for 17 years.

In firehouse primaries Sunday, Richard "Rip" Sullivan Jr. won the Democratic nomination, receiving more than double the votes of any other candidate. Sullivan is a lawyer and Democratic activist.

Republicans nominated Dave Foster, a former Arlington County School board chairman.

Brink is vacating the seat after being appointed to a state post by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

You can vote in the special election Aug. 19.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Berkeley Set to Require Free Medical Pot for Poor]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:55:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/06-11-2014-medical-marijuana-generic.jpg

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Sinks in Polls as Immigration Protests Heat Up]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:04:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-02_1303.jpg NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray discusses recent immigration protests, and Obama's request for $2 billion to help pay for costs near the borders.]]> <![CDATA[Wayne Curry, Former Pr. George's Co. Exec., Has Died]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:45:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/0612-waynecurry.jpg

Former Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry has died, reports Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins.

A beloved fixture in the community, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer last summer. He died Wednesday morning at home, Wilkins reported.

In a recent conversation with News4's Jim Vance, he said the news of his diagnosis hadn't frightened him.

"I prayed, consulted with God, I managed myself because I had to present my kids with the appropriate imagery with the challenge that beset me. The really compelling thing is that I wasn't scared," he said.

Born in Brooklyn, Curry spent the vast majority of his life in Prince George's County, an area that was still largely segregated when Curry was young. He and his brother became two of the first African Americans to attend Cheverly-Tuxedo Elementary School.

In 1994, Curry broke ground again, becoming Prince George's first African-American county executive. He was considered a mentor to a generation of young politicians in the county.

During his eight years in office, Curry brought unprecedented change to Prince George's, including a 150 percent increase in home sales, a significant expansion of business development, and a 68 percent drop in police misconduct -- though he remained modest about it.

"I was much more interested in making sense than making history," Curry said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley said Wednesday morning, "I witnessed his tireless advocacy on behalf of the people he served and his fearless efforts."

Curry was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2013.

Last month, he told Vance he felt "pretty good," but wanted to publicize the disparities of cancer treatment in the United States, where African Americans are beset by lung cancer more than any other people.

He also vowed to educate other African-Americans about the dangers of smoking and the real threat of cancer.

He had another message, too.

"I just want to remind people that there's another doctor on duty. And that one's not controlled by any of this," Curry said.