<![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, 01 Oct 2014 22:25:54 -0400 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:25:54 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[World Leaders Watch Hong Kong Protesters Closely]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:55:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP856523298624.jpg World leaders are closely watching the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray discusses that and a new poll on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Bowser Limits Exposure]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:51:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/mayor-composite-3.jpg

We'll get to the triumphant Nationals in a moment. But it's time for you to start paying attention to this unusual general election mayor's race.

Early voting starts Oct. 20. Election Day, Nov. 4, is just 34 days away.

A recent NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll showed that Democrat Muriel Bowser held a comfortable lead over independent David Catania, but the poll showed 30 percent either undecided or willing to change their choice. Independent Carol Schwartz trailed in third place.

This week, the three will meet for only their second forum of the campaign. WAMU 88.5 host Kojo Nnamdi will moderate a two-hour radio broadcast at the headquarters of National Public Radio on North Capitol Street. (All tickets are taken.) It'll be on the radio from 7 to 9 p.m. and streaming live at wamu.org. The Notebook will be one of the people asking questions.

Early on, Bowser agreed to only four debates, a break from traditional city politics in which dozens are held as communities and interest groups seek to hear directly from candidates.

Bowser's limited forum approach apparently extends to community questionnaires. This week we learned that the Bowser campaign did not respond to a questionnaire submitted by a group of established organizations, including D.C. Vote, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, D.C. Appleseed and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters.

That's a pretty involved group of organizations. They even gave the Bowser campaign extra time, and a response still wasn't forthcoming.

The groups are set to do live interviews with Catania and Schwartz on Wednesday morning. Bowser declined.

As we have reported, Bowser also turned down both the Federation of Civic Associations and the Federation of Citizens Associations, which together represent about 75 neighborhood groups citywide.

It remains to be seen if those left-out groups will hold it against Bowser. But she clearly holds the lead in the race and apparently believes her ground game will be more effective than forums and questionnaires.

Catania and Schwartz fill out the forms and attend the forums, but they still must find ways to rattle Bowser's comfortable lead.

■ Nats to avenge 2012? On Friday, the Washington Nationals begin their second playoff run in three seasons.

The spectacular 2014 season ended Sunday with a spectacular Jordan Zimmermann no-hitter against the Miami Marlins 1-0, thanks to a spectacular day behind home plate by catcher Wilson Ramos and a spectacular left-field catch by substitute player Steven Souza Jr. (who had entered the game in the ninth inning) for the final out. And we used "spectacular" four times on purpose.

It was the first no-hitter recorded by the Nats. Now the hope is that the team makes it to the World Series.

The Notebook shares all the excitement, but we admit to a more base emotion.

At minimum, we'd just like to avenge the heartbreaking 2012 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, who eliminated the Nats in the fifth game of the National League Division Series. On the night of Oct. 12, 2012, we were sitting in the stands when the Nats were an out away in the ninth inning, leading 7-5. The Cardinals came back to life, scoring four runs to win 9-7.

Kick in the gut. Painful. It was a long walk out of the ballpark.

The whole Washington region -- except for those die-hard Orioles fans -- can embrace this year's playoff team with first-year manager Matt Williams. He brought discipline to a talented team that needed it.

Congratulations. But keep an eye on those Cards.

■ Picture this: D.C. police debut body cameras. On Wednesday, 160 D.C. police officers began wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public whenever the officers are on a police call.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced the six-month pilot program last week, saying camera use in other jurisdictions has sharply cut civilian complaints. She says it's not just because officers are behaving better, but also because fewer citizens make false allegations against the officers.

"Now, we'll have the video," the chief said.

Fraternal Order of Place chair Delroy Burton appeared at the news conference to back the chief. (That was news in itself because former union leader Kris Baumann had such a toxic relationship with Lanier that they hardly could be in the same room.)

Burton said the successful use of body cameras in other jurisdictions helped persuade his officers to give them a try.
"It's no longer a he-said, she-said" situation, Burton said. "We can go back and review that film, review the audio and quickly clear the matter up."

The pilot project will test five different cameras and cost about $1 million. The department has studied the issue over the past 18 months, since long before the national outrage over police conduct in Ferguson, Mo., prompted calls for more cameras.
There's still a lot to be worked out.

Will the media have timely access to the video through Freedom of Information Act inquiries? Will private scenes of nudity or other sensitive material be redacted? Who will decide that? Will the department be overwhelmed with video from 160 officers working full shifts?

Chief Lanier said the current plan is to keep all video for 90 days before destroying it.

New regulations for the officers say they are to turn on body cameras the moment they receive a call to a crime scene or when they respond themselves to any incident. The officers are not supposed to turn off the cameras until a senior officer clears them from the immediate activity.

■ Final word. Eric Holder is stepping down as U.S. attorney general. And no, no, no, he's not thinking about running for mayor in four years.

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

<![CDATA[D.C. Elected Officials Required to Use Translators]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vincentgrayclose1.jpg

Elected officials in the district now must have foreign language translators with them when they visit businesses and residents on official business, a change following a News4 report that showed Mayor Vincent Gray becoming frustrated while trying to speak with an Ethiopian shop keeper.

Ethiopian community leaders are still upset about this encounter between Gray and a shop keeper in Petworth last year

“Oh it was outrageous,” Ethiopian community organizer Bekele Wolde said.

Wolde spoke with the clerk after the incident.

“The pain was so much, and when I really started talking to him, he couldn’t even finish the statements that he wants to tell me and he broke into tears and I really understood the pain,” Wolde said.

Language access advocates applauded the mayor’s decision to institute the new guidelines.

“This protocol ensures that the government and the community at large in D.C. can effectively communicate because we have a very diverse population in D.C. and a lot of different languages,” said David Steib of the D.C. Language Access Coalition.

According to the Language Access Coalition, 16 percent of D.C. residents are foreign born. One in 20 residents say English is not their primary language, and a third of the businesses in D.C. are run by immigrants

The new guidelines are an important step forward, Gray said.

“If it does enhance communication, which facilitates relationship, of course it’s something I would be supportive of,” he said.

Photo Credit: File Photo]]>
<![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Americans Believe Ground Troops to Be Used Against ISIS]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:07:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/2014-09-29_1406.jpg According to a new poll, 72 percent of Americans believe that ground troops will be used against ISIS. However, President Obama insists that combat troops will not be playing a role in Iraq or Syria. NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray provides his insight.]]> <![CDATA[Eric Holder: D.C. Should Have Voting Rights]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:45:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/tlmd_ericholdernosabiaderapidoyfuriosojpg_bim.jpg

D.C. residents deserve representation in Congress, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday.

Holder mentioned the District's lack of representation in prepared remarks for a speech at a Congressional Black Caucus gathering on voting rights.

Holder announced his resignation Thursday. He's a longtime District resident and a former U.S. attorney for the nation's capital.

According to his prepared remarks, Holder says all Americans should be full participants in democracy, “including the more than 600,000 taxpayers, who, like me, live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress.”

President Barack Obama recently said “I'm for it” when asked about statehood for the District. A Senate hearing was held this month on a statehood bill, but no further action on the bill is planned.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Addresses UN General Assembly]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:01:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007961938_1200x675_332913731667.jpg Barbara Harrison is joined by NBC political writer Carrie Dann to discuss the president's latest attempt to rally support from other nations to help in the fight against ISIS.]]> <![CDATA[ Jim Webb Considering Run for President]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 09:53:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/jim-webb-140244132.jpg

Former Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) is considering a run for president in 2016.

Webb told reporters at the National Press Club that he’s gauging the “support base” for his policy priorities and that he will decide on a run “in a few months,” multiple media outlets report.

According to NBCNews, the Vietnam veteran's opposition to intervention in Iraq and Libya could offer an "important contrast" to Hillary Clinton, who will likely be the Democratic party's frontrunner.

During his appearance Tuesday, Webb also said the country's direction on foreign policy and economic inequality in the U.S. disturbs him.

Webb served as a senator from Virginia from 2007 to 2013. He chose not to run for a second term in 2012.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Freedom Faulted Again?]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 06:01:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP183397360031.jpg

The U.S. Secret Service is embarrassed. And who will pay the price for that? It looks like there will be another hit to the dwindling freedom of the American public to gather in our nation’s capital.

Despite all the flourishes of heavy security in place around the White House, last Friday a lone man scaled the fence and made it nearly 100 yards to the north portico entry. No dogs were loosed to bring him down. No weapons fired. No all-hands-on-deck deployed. It was an open field run by an intruder that was seen by tourists but not, apparently, by security guards.

As we said, embarrassing.

But instead of the embarrassed Secret Service saying it will reassess its procedures and make corrections, it apparently may go after the easier target of moving the public even farther from the White House. New temporary fencing is in place a few feet from the main fence. Media reports said the agency is considering airport-style screening stations blocks from what was once “the People’s House.”

That’s simply “securicrats” at work.

In Monday’s Washington Post, careful veteran reporter Carol D. Leonnig wrote this:
“The New York Times first reported Sunday that the Secret Service was considering screening visitors’ bags and identification farther away from the White House.

“The Secret Service and every presidential administration has struggled to strike an admittedly awkward balance of keeping the White House both open and secure. Officials have worked to keep the White House compound a ‘hard target’ but also to give the American people the feeling that it is ‘the people’s house’ and not an impenetrable fortress,” she wrote.

There’s no doubt the Secret Service officials have “talked” a lot about balancing openness and security, but the record seems to show security fear winning out.

The White House public tours? When were you last on one? The public is barely welcome. Americans have to apply through their local congressional office. At minimum you must apply at least 21 days ahead, and it can take as long as six months.

The 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. address ceased to exist back in 1996. That’s when President Bill Clinton approved the Secret Service decision to permanently close the avenue between 15th and 17th streets. Side streets along Lafayette Park — once teeming with American commerce — have long since been closed. And E Street on the south side of the White House remains blocked, cutting off ribbons of commerce on that side, too.

There’s no doubt that providing 24/7 security is a tough and demanding job. The potential for boredom or fatigue can sap even the most earnest guard. That’s why they change shifts, walk, ride and patrol. Staying alert is the crux of the job.

Simply enlarging the secure area is an easy way to lessen the task. Well, it is until some deranged person, criminal or terrorist decides to take out the new screening posts. Then will we need more expansion?

Over the weekend, one person, responding to the new restrictions being considered, tweeted:
“Man manages to climb the fence, the INTERIOR security fails at all levels, & the people outside need to stay further away? Um…”

That about sums it up.

We have to stop allowing tourists, veterans, families and foreign visitors to stand near the high White House fencing for souvenir pictures because the security team on the other side was caught napping?

Somebody needs a wake-up call. But it’s not the free American people.

■ Mayoral politics. We wanted to write about the mayor’s race, the lively first forum among the leading candidates at American University last Thursday and the NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll that shows Muriel Bowser with a comfortable lead but still at risk of losing it to challengers David Catania and Carol Schwartz.

We wanted to write about all that. But the unending issue of freedom and security trumped our concerns.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: This Is Real Action]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:36:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/211*120/2014-09-23_1233.jpg NBC political writer Carrie Dann discusses how the allies joining the air strikes in Syria will help the Obama administration talk about ISIS threats at a United Nations meeting Wednesday.]]> <![CDATA[ISIS Statement Urges Followers to Kill Americans]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:38:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007940646_1200x675_332151875911.jpg This is an important week for President Obama and his effort to get international support to fight ISIS. NBC political writer Carrie Dann offers insight.]]> <![CDATA[Virginia State Delegate Vince Callahan Dies]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 07:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Virginia+State+Delegate+Vince+Callahan.jpg

Virginia State Delegate Vince Callahan passed away Saturday. He was 82.

Callahan help develop several major places in northern Virginia including Wolf Trap and George Mason University.

He served in the Commonwealth's General Assembly for more than 40 years -- longer than any Republican in state history.

Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Majority Disapprove of NFL: Poll]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:43:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007913769_1200x675_331236419900.jpg A new NBC News/Marist poll shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of how the NFL has been handling recent scandals -- but 85 percent say it hasn't changed the amount of football they watch. However, Barbara is joined by NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray to talk football.]]> <![CDATA[Obama Closes Door on Ground Combat in Syria]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:48:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007900890_1200x675_330860611965.jpg President Obama made headlines in Florida during his speech to service members Wednesday, telling them there will be no combat missions in Syria. Mark Murray, NBC News' senior political editor has more. The Senate will vote Thursday on whether to train Syrian rebels.]]> <![CDATA[Excused McDonnell Juror Discussed Case at Bar]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:56:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_bob_mcdonnell_exgobernador_virgina_declarado_culpable.jpg

The McDonnell juror who could have changed history, Louis DeNitto, Jr., disobeyed the orders of a federal judge and discussed the case openly at a Richmond bar, a block from U.S. district court.

According to sources with intimate knowledge of the court proceedings, DeNitto was staying at the Broad Street Marriott, and discussed the case at the hotel bar.

"He considered the McDonnells innocent and didn't mind saying it," said a juror in an email Tuesday. "Judge Spencer was specific... Lying to the judge or discussing the case would cause severe consequences."

According to McDonnell juror Robin Trujillo, two U.S. marshals entered the jury room 12 days into the corruption trial and escorted DeNitto to Spencer’s chambers.

"The next thing we know, those two marshals come in and asked [DeNitto] to come out," Trujillo said in an interview Wednesday. "And he left, he just disappeared."

After a meeting in Spencer’s chambers with the McDonnells and attorneys from both sides, DeNitto was excused. Gov. Bob McDonnell emerged from the meeting visibly upset.

"We have no further comment on the matter," said Cullen Seltzer, DeNitto's attorney Wednesday. Spencer’s office also declined to issue a comment.

DeNitto declined to reveal the reason why he was dismissed in an interview with the Washington Post, but said the decision to remove him was “completely unethical.”

The McDonnells will be sentenced Jan. 6 in Richmond federal court, and have signaled they plan to appeal after the sentencing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bowser Leads, But Race Could Be a Tossup: Poll]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:50:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser has a double-digit lead over her opponents in the first poll on this fall's D.C. mayoral election -- but that doesn't mean the race is a done deal. 

Among likely voters, including those who are still undecided, Bowser leads with 43 percent of the vote, according to an NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll released Wednesday. (The poll has a 4.1-percent margin of error among likely voters.)

Independent David Catania received 26 percent, and another 16 percent of voters say they are planning to vote for independent Carol Schwartz.

However, that balance could change. With nearly seven weeks to go until Election Day, 14 percent of likely voters remain undecided, and a sizable chunk of likely voters admit they don't know enough about the candidates to render an opinion.

Moreover, among those likely voters who have chosen a candidate, slightly less than half strongly support their choice. A little more than one-third "somewhat support" their choice, and 16 percent say they might change their minds by the time they cast their ballots.

"Bowser has the advantage going into Thursday night's debate," said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a release. "But, when considering voters who are undecided and those who say they may still vote differently, there are enough persuadable voters to make for a lively give-and-take."

Only about half of likely voters who are supporting Bowser and Catania say they are "firmly committed" to their respective choice of candidate.

None of the candidates are struggling with likability; half of likely voters have a favorable view of both Bowser and Schwartz, and 46 percent feel the same about Catania.

However, Bowser has the strongest unfavorability rating; 22 percent of likely voters have a negative view of her. Catania was next, at 19 percent unfavorable. Just 15 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Schwartz.

And roughly a third of poll respondents conceded that they don't know enough about at least one of the candidates to render an opinion either way: 28 percent of likely voters said that about Bowser; 35 percent about Catania, and 36 percent about Schwartz.

That balance could change, however, as voters learn more about the candidates in the coming weeks.

The poll also shows that the candidates' political parties may not have as much of an effect on the race as expected.

Two-thirds of likely voters who are Democrats say they'd consider voting for a non-Democratic candidate -- news that Bowser's independent opponents might be interested to know. The figure includes 38 percent who would very seriously consider doing so. However, another 31 percent would not.

Bowser also scored strongly on some of the issues that likely voters say are most important to them: jobs and the economy, education and temperament. "Her strong suits are people who rate jobs and the economy as their number-one issue," said Miringoff. "...She clearly has that point of identification with voters."

But when it comes to who has the clearest vision for the city and experience, those prove to be more of a tossup.

Bowser and Catania are in a statistical tie among likely voters on those issues, and Schwartz isn’t far behind when it comes to voters’ perception of her experience.

"In a sense, [Bowser] has some work to do in establishing her image, cementing that with voters, beyond just the jobs and economy..." Miringoff said.

In other words, it's not just Catania and Schwartz who have a ways to go before the election, Miringoff said: "They have work in gaining support, and she has work in cementing her image."

"The pursuable votes are there to be had, but they have to make their case to get that," he said.

As for shifting allegiances, Bowser's defeat of Mayor Vincent Gray in the April primary is coming back to help her in another way: 47 percent of Democrats who voted for Gray in the spring are now backing Bowser.

However, Catania has syphoned support from those who voted for third-place primary candidate Tommy Wells back in April. More than half of those voters are now in Catania's camp.

Catania is also leading Bowser by 11 percentage points among likely voters who are white, although Bowser is showing crossover appeal among both white and African-American voters. More than half of black voters, 55 percent, favor Bowser, as do 30 percent of white voters.

Nearly two thirds of likely voters said they don't think it's important to have an African American mayor. Of those voters, 38 percent said it's not important at all.

But more than 30 percent of likely voters do think it's important, and that includes 13 percent who report it's essential.

"The bottom line in all this, is it does put Bowser in the driver's seat, but she certainly doesn't have a lock on this, " Miringoff said.


About two-thirds of adults said the District is moving in the right direction; another 24 percent think it is on the wrong track. Eight percent are unsure. The results show a slight polarization on the question since it was last asked. When this question was asked in a March poll, 65 percent of residents thought D.C. was on the right path, and 21 percent felt the opposite. At the time, a much higher ratio, 14 percent, was unsure.

Most D.C. residents, 71 percent, say Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier is doing a good job. Another 14 percent disapprove, and 15 percent are unsure.

While D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson didn’t score as will, she still came away with a 52-percent approval rating. The poll shows that another 22 percent of residents disapprove, and a little more than a quarter are unsure.

As for proposed changes to D.C. school boundaries, 55 percent of residents support the proposal. Another 23 percent oppose it, and 22 percent are unsure.


This survey of 1,249 adults was conducted Sept. 14-16 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with NBC4 and The Washington Post. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the District of Columbia were interviewed by telephone using live interviewers.

Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the District from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. To increase coverage, this landline sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. The two samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2010 Census results for age, gender income, and race.

Respondents in the household were selected by asking for the youngest male. Results are statistically significant within ±2.8 percentage points. There are 1,070 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 572 likely voters defined by a probability turnout model. This model determines the likelihood respondents will vote in the November 2014 election based upon their chance of vote, interest in the election, and past election participation.

Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: It’s Not Debatable…]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 05:42:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Something is going to happen that hasn’t happened all this campaign season on Thursday.

Mayoral candidates Carol Schwartz, David Catania and Muriel Bowser finally — some would say at last — will be on the same stage at the same time taking media and voter questions.

But don’t get used to it.

The candidate conversation Thursday night at the American University’s Katzen Arts Center is just one of four that Democratic nominee Bowser is agreeing to do. As recently as this week, her campaign declined to give any indication she might do more.

That’s bad news for some significant community groups that traditionally run candidates through a wringer of debates.

For example, the age-old Federation of Civic Associations and the Federation of Citizens Associations together represent about 75 neighborhood organizations. For more than four months they’ve been planning a forum for Oct. 21 at Eastern High School.

Catania said yes. Schwartz said yes. Bowser’s campaign hasn’t said anything.

One organizer, who said she’s tried to get a Bowser campaign commitment, sourly recalled a recent campaign event: “She has time to clean hotel bathrooms, but she doesn’t have time for us?”

In Southwest, community leaders like Andy Litsky are hosting a Southwest/Southeast mayoral debate Oct. 9 at Arena Stage. Participating groups include Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, the longtime Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and the Navy Yard Neighborhood Association.

Schwartz said yes. Catania said yes. Bowser?

As of Monday, Bowser “has not even acknowledged the invitation,” Litsky said in an email to us. “We will have a chair on the stage with her name on it if she deigns to show up.”

The Catania and Schwartz campaigns said they also have invites from the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, anchor Bruce Johnson at WUSA-TV Channel 9, the Washington City Paper, the local AARP chapter and others.

Joaquin McPeek, Bowser’s press person, said Bowser stands by her Sept. 12 announcement on forums. In addition to American University on Thursday, Bowser has accepted the Oct. 2 debate being hosted by WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi at National Public Radio on North Capitol Street.

Bowser also agreed to the NBC4/Washington Post forum to be held Oct. 15 (and broadcast later by NBC4) and the Oct. 16 Ward 8 Collaborative Forum sponsored by 35 community groups.

Nearly every candidate for public office – especially for mayor — has groused at least a little bit about the wearying, dizzying pace of multiple forums, Bowser included. The marathon of events to win the April 1 Democratic Primary wasn’t that long ago. She’s now doing small-scale events every day, and her campaign says she’s meeting voters one-on-one all the time. Attending the forums is not seen as a necessarily efficient use of her time.

Her critics say Bowser isn’t good in debates and is making a campaign gamble that voters won’t care enough about her absences to affect the outcome.

Schwartz is making her fifth run for mayor and is a veteran of citywide council races.

“I think that [Bowser’s decision] is very worrisome,” she told NBC4 on Monday. “I think voters want to see debates, see us in person, and they want to ask us questions.”

Catania, who released a 126-page platform of ideas and issues on Monday, said voters need more from unsheltered candidates.

“There’s simply no way that voters are going to be able to come away after four debates with an understanding of what me and my opponents would like to do as mayor,” Catania said.

■ Statehood fantasy. If you’re tired of fantasy football, you can start a new game of fantasy statehood.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., held a well-attended hearing on D.C. statehood Monday. Well, it was well-attended by citizens. Not many senators show up on Mondays or Fridays on Capitol Hill. And certainly not for D.C. statehood.

Carper gave an impassioned opening statement in favor of full American citizenship for D.C. residents.

“My goal for this hearing is to educate a new generation of people about this injustice and restart the conversation about finding a thoughtful solution,” he said. “We have tolerated this situation for a long time.”

But just to be clear, there is no plan to bring the statehood issue to a vote in committee or, even less likely, on the Senate floor. And after November’s elections, the Democrats may lose control of the Senate to Republicans.

Fantasy football, anyone?

■ Food for thought. The DC Central Kitchen, which does hard-core work to help feed the neediest among us, is holding a fundraiser Thursday. It’s at 6 p.m. at the Liaison Capitol Hill Rooftop Pool & Bar, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW.

Participants will be celebrating a new book, “The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First 25 Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty.”

The heartfelt story is told by Alexander Justice Moore, the kitchen’s chief development officer. It tells the story of Robert Egger, “the cocky nightclub manager” who opened the kitchen and changed the face of poverty assistance in Washington. It’s a good read to pick up even if you can’t make the party.

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

Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: Ebola an Issue of National Security]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:10:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-09-16_1708_001.png President Obama plans to send 3,000 military personnel to create Ebola treatment centers in Liberia. In an interview on "Meet the Press," Obama said that Ebola is not only an issue of health care, but also a national security problem.]]>