<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Tue, 05 May 2015 18:23:31 -0400 Tue, 05 May 2015 18:23:31 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Director of D.C.'s 911 Call Center Steps Down]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 14:03:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc-flag-shutterstock_206336772.jpg

The director of D.C.'s 911 call center has stepped down after sources tell News4 she was forced to resigned.

Jennifer Greene and the Office of Unified Communications has been under intense scrutiny following several high profiled missteps, including slow response times during the smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza and the choking death of toddler who was not sent the closest paramedic.

The unsuccessful roll-out of a new computer tablet system also led to delayed response times.

"I’m very glad the mayor is looking at some of these agencies and cleaning them out, because we need, in her words, a fresh start in some of these agencies," Councilwoman Mary Cheh said. 

Sources tell News4's Mark Segraves that the last straw was Greene's testimony last week that the call center is unable to meet the national standard for response times.

"[T]hat’s really the last call that somebody may make," Cheh added. "So we need to do what we need to do, and it includes changing the leadership."

Green, who previously served as a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department, was promoted to director of the Office of Unified Communications by former mayor Vincent Gray.

Chris Geldart, the director of D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), will oversee the 911 call center until a replacement is found. He will also continue to head HSEMA.

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<![CDATA[Va. AG: Abortion Clinics Can Be Exempted From New Standards]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 14:31:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_226623193.jpg

Virginia Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring says new strict building standards should not be applied retroactively to existing abortion clinics, contradicting advice given by his Republican predecessor.

 

Herring issued an opinion Monday to the state health commissioner. The standards would treat abortion clinics as hospitals and cover issues such as hallway widths and closet sizes. Herring says applying them would essentially shut down abortion services in the state.

Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office said the opposite in 2012.

State officials say that of the 18 clinics operating in Virginia, five meet the code for new hospitals and 13 are operating under a variance.

Abortion rights supporters say the building requirements were designed to put existing clinics out of business. Abortion opponents say they are intended to protect women's health.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Carson, Fiorina Announce Run for President]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 12:43:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2015-05-04_1240.jpg Ben Carson added his name to the race for president Monday morning, just hours after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina did so herself. They are both Republicans and are both considered underdogs. Carrie Dann, a politcal writer for NBC News, joins us with the strength and weaknesses of these new candidates.]]> <![CDATA[Ex-Christie Aides Plead Not Guilty]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 18:56:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/kelly-Baroni.jpg

Two former political allies of Gov. Christie entered not guilty pleas Monday after they were charged for their alleged involvement in politically motivated lane closures of the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his former top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill Baroni, entered the pleas through their attorneys in the nine-count indictment unsealed Friday after a yearlong investigation.

"I would never risk my career, my job and my reputation for something like this," Baroni said after the brief court hearing. "I am an innocent man."

Kelly didn't talk to reporters Monday, but said she was also innocent at a news conference on Friday.

Bail for both was set at $150,000 and U.S. District Court Judge Susan Wigenton set a tentative trial date of July 7.

David Wildstein, who went to high school with Christie and later became a top official in the Port Authority, pleaded guilty Friday to two criminal counts. He admitted that he helped plot lane closures in Fort Lee on an approach to the world's busiest bridge as political payback against that community's Democratic mayor for failing to support Christie's re-election campaign.

"If David Wildstein was willing to repeatedly lie to settle a petty political grudge, nobody should be surprised at his eagerness to concoct any story that he thinks will help him stay out of federal prison," said Baroni's lawyer Michael Baldassarre. "We're confident that everyone will see this desperate ploy for exactly what this is."

Kelly's attorney, Michael Critchley, said that the case was built solely on information from Wildstein. He said that her brief appearance with Baroni in court Monday was the longest Kelly and Baroni have ever spent together.

Christie has not been implicated in the criminal case.

The charges provide mixed news for Christie as he tries to regain momentum in support of an expected presidential bid.

Christie appears to have been cleared of any allegations that he personally participated in the scheme, but the charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey still hit close to home.

A Monmouth University poll of 500 New Jersey residents conducted from Friday through Sunday and released on Monday found that half believe Christie was personally involved in the decision to close the toll lanes. Sixty-nine percent don't believe he's been completely honest about what he knew.

Less than one in 10 believe the three individuals who've been charged in the scheme were the only ones involved. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Several recent polls have found Christie's job approval rating in the state has also sunk to an all-time low.

Christie's aides and backers hope the developments will allow the governor to put this chapter behind him less than a year before the first presidential primaries, even as legal proceedings have just begun. In many ways, the outcome was the best he could have hoped for — little new information and no names mentioned beyond those Christie had already cut ties to.

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<![CDATA[Sen. Bernie Sanders Announces Presidential Bid]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 13:00:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010327331_1200x675_437030979677.jpg Sanders does not have the name recognition of opponent Hillary Clinton, but he says, "I am running in this election to win. NBC News Political Writer Carrie Dann discusses what's next.]]> <![CDATA[Sen. Sanders Announces White House Bid]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 12:21:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/sanders-announce.jpg U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses his plans to run for the White House in 2016.]]> <![CDATA[Ward 8 Race Still Too Close to Call]]> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 13:25:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010312668_1200x675_436404291557.jpg Brandon Todd is the winner of the D.C. Council's Ward 4 seat in Tuesday's special election, but as of midday Wednesday, the winner in Ward 8 has yet to be determined.]]> <![CDATA[Ward 8 Too Close to Call]]> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 13:26:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/voting-dfw-generic-01.jpg

The special election for the D.C. Council's Ward 8 seat appears to be too close to call, but Marion C. Barry, the son of former Mayor Marion Barry who held the seat until he died in November, is out with just 7 percent of the vote, News4's Tom Sherwood reports.

LaRuby May has 26.94 percent of the vote to 24.55 percent for Trayon White, but there's just 152 votes separating them with 163 absentee ballots and some special ballots still to be counted.

In Ward 4, Brandon Todd won easily with 42.42 percent of the vote to fill the seat vacated by now-Mayor Muriel Bowser. That's almost twice his closest opponent, Renee L. Bowser (no relation to the mayor), who has 21.57 percent of the vote.

Barry's son was one of 12 candidates trying to replace him on the council. The elder Barry represented the poorest section of the city for the last 10 years of his life, and he remained beloved in the majority-black ward even though his citywide popularity never recovered after his 1990 drug arrest.

It's been 17 years since a special election needed to be held because of a council member's death.

Twelve candidates also ran for Bowser's seat, which opened once she won the mayoral election in November.

Ward 4 candidates:

  • Acqunetta Anderson
  • Leon T. Andrews Jr.
  • Ron Austin
  • Renee L. Bowser
  • Gwenellen Corley-Bowman
  • Judi Jones
  • Edwin W. Powell
  • Glova Scott
  • Douglass Sloan
  • Bobvala Tengen
  • Brandon Todd
  • Dwayne M. Toliver

 Ward 8 candidates:

  • Jauhar Abraham
  • Marion C. Barry
  • Sheila Bunn
  • Greta Fuller
  • Eugene D. Kinlow
  • LaRuby May
  • Anthony Muhammad
  • "S.S." Sandra Seegars
  • Keita Vanterpool
  • Leonard Watson Sr.
  • Trayon "WardEight" White
  • Natalie Williams



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Demonstrators Outside Supreme Court for Same-Sex Marriage Debate]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 20:38:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010301230_1200x675_436039235885.jpg News4's Chris Gordon talks to local residents who converged on the U.S. Supreme Court as justices heard historic arguments over same-sex marriage.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Obama Jokes at Correspondents' Dinner]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 05:09:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Obama-White-House-Correspondents-Dinner-1.jpg President Obama poked fun at politicians, government officials and himself at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Republican Firehouse Primaries]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:37:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010260210_1200x675_434082371981.jpg A look at candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for Prince William County chairman of the board of supervisors and the candidates for the supervisor seat from the Sully District in Fairfax County.]]> <![CDATA[DC Mayor’s Proposal to Limit AG’s Powers on Hold]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 23:24:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/461046870.jpg

A showdown between the mayor of the District of Columbia and the first-ever elected attorney general has been averted for now.

At issue is Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal in her new budget to water down some of the new attorney general’s powers, particularly when it comes to reviewing government contracts.

After a five-hour council roundtable on the dispute Wednesday, D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie issued a statement saying the matter needs more public discussion and it appears the mayor and attorney general agree.

"The mayor is happy to have more public debate on the matter and separate the proposed changes to the AG’s powers from budget negotiations," Bowser spokesman Michael Czin said.

While Bowser is not withdrawing her proposal, the council is expected to remove it from the budget and hold more public hearings on the issue in the coming months.

Attorney General Karl Racine not only opposed Bowser’s proposal, he also would like to see his office given more power and a larger budget.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lamwkers Fight in Annapolis Over Funds to Help Students]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:23:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010215684_1200x675_431692867823.jpg Maryland lawmakers are fighting in Annapolis to get the governor to release more money for schools. News4's Chris Gordon takes a look at how the funding battle could have a big impact on school children in Prince George's County and Montgomery County.]]> <![CDATA[Clinton Has Qualms on Trade Deal]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:16:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/l_apclintonburritox1200.jpg

The second day of her first 2016 campaign visit to New Hampshire found Hillary Clinton at another roundtable, this one at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.

Clinton says community colleges need to reinvent themselves and better market what they offer.

"It's one of the reasons why I really support President Obama's efforts to try to raise the visibility of Community Colleges and make it even more affordable for even more people to go," said Clinton.

Obama's proposal calls for community college to be free.

In contrast, Clinton expressed qualms over the trade deal the Obama administration is negotiating with Pacific nations.

Clinton's campaign previously said she would be closely watching efforts by the administration to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Her comments Tuesday were her first on the subject on the campaign trail.

"We need to build things, too," she said. "We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and skills to be competitive," while getting back to "a much more focused effort, in my opinion, to try to produce those capacities here at home."

Even so, she stopped short of rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership - an agreement opposed by many manufacturing unions.

The next stop for Clinton is the Concord home of 94-year-old Mary Louise Hancock, a New Hampshire Democratic Party stalwart who has hosted dozens of Presidential candidates in her living room over the years.

In keeping with Clinton's no media strategy, reporters were held at bay. And it's not just reporters frustrated by the lack of access.

"She is being insulated to the degree that she should not be as a candidate," said independent voter Brian Blackden. "We don't run campaigns in New Hampshire, never have, with one candidate from the party, and it's wrong."

The Clinton campaign doesn't disclose most of her stops - but Hillary Clinton is not difficult to find. Just look for the crowd of people, motorcade of cars and secret service.

Another stop, not on the public schedule, a visit with Democrats at party headquarters where Clinton is warmly supported - though the progressive wing of the party is listening closely and Clinton is responding.

Political analyst Dean Spiliotes says, "She's sounding much more populist, much more progressive. Wall Street supporters for now seem to be kind of okay with that . They see it as a strategic choice that she has to make."

Besides free community college, Clinton now supports same sex marriage as a constitutional right and she is talking about limiting "unaccountable money" in politics.

 

Content from the Associated Press was used in this report.



Photo Credit: AP | Charlie Neibergall]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: And They’re Off…!]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 06:31:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc-flag-shutterstock_206336772.jpg

Just how big is the District of Columbia budget for 2016?

$12,900,000,000.

Or you can simply write it as $12.9 billion.

Over the next six weeks or so, you’re going to hear a lot about how Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council members are sparring over streetcars, school construction, sales taxes, parking garage taxes, reserve funds and any number of other fiscal issues.

But remember this: Despite the huge budget of nearly $13 billion, the council and mayor likely will fight over only a few hundred million here or there, if that.

The fact is, final city and state budgets most often reflect what is originally proposed. Legislative members try to shoehorn pet projects or correct egregious spending. But it’s pretty much the mayor’s or governor’s budget.

Here in the District, about 35 percent of the entire budget goes for human services, the largest segment of city spending. The next highest is education, at 17 percent, followed by public safety at 10 percent, public works at 6 percent and economic development at 4 percent. The remainder goes to government overhead and other miscellaneous spending.

The city’s many commercial parking garages often have been a target for extra money. For a long time the tax was 12 percent of the parking fee. Mayor Vincent Gray raised it to 18 percent three years ago. Now, Bowser is suggesting 22 percent to raise an additional $10 million to put toward Metro funding.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans has more commercial parking garages in his downtown-to-Georgetown ward than any other council member. At the first council hearing on the overall budget Monday, Evans spoke out against this tax.

“Twenty-two percent is a very high tax,” he said. “Maryland and Virginia do not have a parking tax. They’re at zero.” Evans went on to note that about one-third of garage parkers are District residents, so it’s a tax on them as well as suburban commuters. “And frankly [it’s something] I don’t think we need to do,” Evans said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson appeared almost furious at the Bowser proposals to raise the sales tax from 5.75 percent to 6 percent, the same as that of Maryland and Virginia. And he objected to Bowser’s plan to dip into some reserve funds to help close a $193 million projected deficit. The chairman said raising taxes was not the message Bowser took to Wall Street recently to discuss bond ratings on city debt.

“When we met with Wall Street last month, we emphasized that we did not need to dip into reserve funds or raise taxes,” Mendelson said. “And yet the budget before us does not [follow] this. It does dip into the fund balance. It does raise taxes.”

Mendelson complained that Bowser calls her budget “balanced,” but he said, “Next year we will be spending faster than the money is coming in.”

Every mayor has had to sit through these council budget hearings. Every council member praises the mayor for appearing and then launches into what isn’t in the budget that the member wants. Bowser throughout was gracious and polite even when the criticism seemed endless.

It was a surprise to see Bowser’s elderly parents come into the council chamber. If they were there to soften Bowser’s performance, or restrain council comments, it didn’t work.

Late in the day Monday, the budget hearing shifted to Bowser’s surprise move to take control of a half-dozen city jobs that now have set terms, like the medical examiner and chief contracting officer. Instead of filling the positions for specific, independent terms, those appointees would serve at the will of the mayor, making them more politically sensitive. Council member Cheh pretty much called it a power grab buried in the budget.

And council members are expressing concern that Bowser is attempting to dilute the power of elected Attorney General Karl Racine by essentially gutting his ability to rule on the legal sufficiency of her contacts. The mayor instead would shift that power to her own legal counsel. On Friday, Racine said on WAMU’s Politics Hour that he would not have run for the office under the terms Bowser is trying to set.

The mayor’s office says all of this is overblown. But these issues and the budget disputes may also highlight another element that could hamper Bowser. Like her mentor, former Mayor Adrian Fenty, Bowser built few personal relationships with the council members she served alongside.

The mayor doesn’t have to like the council members, or kowtow to them. But their lingering perceptions of her as someone who just wants to get her way could spell trouble.

Still, expect the mayor to prevail on all but a handful of issues in this $12.9 billion budget. That’s the way the system works.

■ Notebook note. We’re off to see Cuba on a fact-finding mission. (What’s the best rum on the island, among other things?) We hope to be back in this space May 6.


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

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<![CDATA[New Tax Proposed on E-Cigs in Montgomery Co.]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:38:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/454246108.jpg

People using e-cigarettes in Montgomery County may soon be forced to pay a little more.

The county council introduced a bill Tuesday that calls for a tax on e-cigarettes, vaporizers and related paraphernalia that would match the current tax on tobacco.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers are two versions of the same thing: They heat a flavored liquid electronically, creating a cloud of vapor that looks like smoke. It hasn't replaced tobacco, but it's growing in popularity.

"Cigarettes are taxed at $2 per pack. Smokeless and other tobacco products are taxed at 30 percent as an excise tax. So we picked the same level for e-cigarettes," said council member Tom Hucker, who sponsored the bill. All other council members co-sponsored it, with one exception.

If the tax passes — and it's believed that it will be — the bill will go into effect July 1.

Daryl Mauhay, who uses a vaporizer, said he wouldn't vape less frequently if a higher tax were enacted.

"No," he said. "Because I love vaping and stuff; that's why."

Others say they may purchase the product and paraphernalia outside of Montgomery County.

One other regulation will launch June 1, when Montgomery County makes it illegal to use e-cigarettes or vape in public places where smoking tobacco is prohibited.

That law bans e-cigars, e-hookahs, e-pipes and vape pens from anywhere where smoking traditional cigarettes is banned. It also bans retail outlets from selling certain liquid nicotine or liquid nicotine containers unless they're in packaging that makes it difficult for children to get into.

Only a few states have extended their tobacco laws to cover e-cigarettes. New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah have specifically prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in public places and work places, the council said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Early Voting Begins for D.C. Council Special Election]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 06:16:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/voting-dfw-generic-01.jpg

Early voting is underway to fill two seats on D.C. Council.

There is a crowded field to fill Muriel Bowser's Ward 4 seat and the late Marion Barry's Ward 8 seat.

Early voting for the 2015 special election began Monday at One Judiciary Square. The building will be closed Thursday for Emancipation Day. On Saturday, three additional early voting locations will open.

Early voting will close April 25, just days before the April 28 special election.

Click here to find an early voting location near you.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DC Streetcar Funding Questioned During Mayor's Council Hearing]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 23:09:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000010119742_1200x675_427435075662.jpg D.C. council members say Mayor Muriel Bowser's new budget slashes funding for the city's new streetcar system even more. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.]]> <![CDATA[Lawsuit Against Rep. Paul Ryan, Chief of Staff Dismissed]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 17:10:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/455128679.jpg

Attorneys agreed to dismiss a $100,000 lawsuit against 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his top aide.

Rep. Ryan and his chief of staff were being sued for damages stemming from a 2014 car accident. No reason was specified in the court order which confirmed the dismissal of the suit.

Ryan’s Chief of Staff Kevin Seifert was driving the congressman’s car along I-395, without passengers, when he rear-ended the vehicle carrying a pair of D.C.-area men, the suit alleged. The men said they’d suffered injuries.

The story was first reported by the News4 I-Team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2016 NH Primary Candidate Tracker]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:28:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/candidate-tracker-NH.jpg

The candidates included in the tracker are individuals identified by necn as potential 2016 presidential contenders. The list will change as the race develops. Information about candidate stops was collected from media reports, candidate schedules and plans confirmed by necn.

For more coverage of the 2016 New Hampshire Primary and politics throughout New England, check out necn.com's "Politics First" section.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Former RI Gov. Lincoln Chafee Exploring Presidential Bid]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:59:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/183*120/72123949.jpg

Lincoln Chafee, the former governor and U.S. senator from Rhode Island, announced Thursday that he has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

His launch was made on his website, Chafee2016.com.

Chafee will spend the next few months in New Hampshire, Iowa and other key battleground states, according to a statement issued Thursday morning. 

"Throughout my career, I exercised good judgment on a wide range of high-pressure decisions, decisions that require level-headedness and careful foresight," Chafee said. "Often these decisions came in the face of political adversity. During the next weeks and months I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts about the future of our great country."

Chafee served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican from 1999 until 2007. That same year, he left the Republican Party and became an independent. He switched his affiliation to Democratic in 2013.

He served as governor until 2014. He did not seek re-election.



Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baker Endorses Rep. Chris Van Hollen]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:54:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2015-04-08_1327.jpg Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has endorsed U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in his run for U.S. Senate.]]>