WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07: People attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol December 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. This year�s tree, a 67-foot Engelmann spruce, came from Wyoming�s Bridger-Teton National Forest. As part of the U.S. Capitol's commitment to save energy, strands of energy-efficient LED lights and hand-made ornaments made by Wyoming residents decorate the tree. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By edict of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, today, Dec. 24, is "Christmas Day." That's not nearly as impressive as OPM's pronouncement that New Year's Day 2011 will fall on Dec. 31, 2010 this year (or next). In any case, in the words of "30 Rock"'s Dr. Milton Greene, I wish you "the best Winter's Eve light festival ever."
But while the District and the rest of the nation are off today, a new year and a new round of politics loom. On Thursday, eight candidates picked up nomination petitions for the April 26 special election for D.C.'s upcoming At-Large Council vacancy. The candidate list was mostly as expected: Sekou Biddle and Vincent Orange, the frontrunners for the interim appointment to the seat, as well as fellow interim pick contenders Stanley Mayes and Kelvin Robinson; and previously rumored candidates Leo Alexander, Josh Lopez and Jacque Patterson.
Those seven are all Democrats, though one candidate with no party affiliation is also making a bid. Arkan Haile picked up papers, leading D.C.'s reporters and bloggers to ask, who's Arkan Haile? He's a founding partner at downtown law firm Gray Haile LLP, and a former attorney with power law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Washington Post reports that on Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved President Obama's nominations of Beryl Howell and Robert Wilkins, two of four pending nominees to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Senate did not act on the nominations of James Boasberg and Amy Berman Jackson, meaning Obama will have to resubmit those nominations when the new Congress convenes.
* The D.C. Republican Party has asked incoming GOP House Speaker John Boehner to reconsider his decision to strip Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of certain voting rights.
* Washington Business Journal reports a study commissioned by the city of Baltimore finds that "a new soccer stadium in Baltimore for D.C. United would generate a greater economic impact for the state than a minor-league soccer venue, and the city cannot support both." D.C. United, currently housed at ramshackle RFK Stadium, "has been scouting for a new stadium for years and talks with D.C. officials broke down last year."
* Towson Patch interviews Bob Ehrlich, who again says he does not expect to ever run for office again -- at least in Maryland, where he says the environment is just too hostile to Republicans. Ehrlich may rejoin the Baltimore office of big-money law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, or take a lucrative association presidency in Washington.
* What does Gov. Martin O'Malley do with all the holiday gifts he gets in his official capacity? Maryland Reporter says he gives most of them away.
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to name Julia Hammond of the National Federation of Independent Business as a policy adviser. The official announcement could come next week.
* ARLnow reports Rep. Jim Moran and wife LuAnn Bennett are splitting up after six years of marriage. In a joint statement, they said, "While our marriage may be ending, our friendship and respect for one another is not. We will continue to be supportive of one another as we move forward with our lives."
* Washington City Paper's Alan Suderman writes that not only is the D.C. Democratic State Committee's headquarters not in Executive Director David Meadows's basement, but Meadows also seems a bit touchy about the subject.
* The Washington Examiner pokes Save Western Maryland and the Maryland Conservation Council for "suing to prevent a wind-electricity project from going forward, on the grounds that it could hurt a protected species of bat." The Examiner said, "If we believed the world was going to end unless we started using wind power, we probably wouldn't worry so much about bats."
* "How Do You Know" may have flopped (as we all did know it would), but there's another D.C.-set film on the horizon: "Adams Morgan: The Movie." You can tell it takes place in Adams Morgan because no one is seen eating individually purchased slices of pizza.
* The Post profiles veteran Metro employee Willita Wright, who decks her kiosk at Farragut West with blinking lights, plays Christmas songs on CD, and hands out candy canes at the exit gates.
* ARLnow picks the winner of its Arlington holiday poem contest.
* Media Bistro reports star writer Moe Tkacik is leaving City Paper after just four months. In related news, I still have no idea who Moe Tkacik is.