DMV Daily: Jack Johnson's Indictment

Ex-P.G. executive faces bribery charges

By P.J. Orvetti
|  Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011  |  Updated 11:00 AM EDT
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DMV Daily: Jack Johnson's Indictment

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Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson is led from his home in handcuffs.

Former Prince George’s County executive Jack Johnson was hit with a 31-page federal indictment Monday that says he accepted more than $200,000 in bribes, and was a key player in a broad corruption scheme at the top levels of county government. The Washington Times says “for virtually his entire eight years” in office, Johnson “sat atop an expansive and lucrative pay-for-play fiefdom” according to federal prosecutors.

The Washington Examiner says Johnson “promised one businessman ‘help on the council’ from his wife, Leslie, who was running for the County Council at the time, in return for money.” Leslie Johnson has yet to be indicted, but readers may remember the arrest of both Johnsons three months ago, charged with conspiring to hide nearly $80,000 in Ms. Johnson’s bra and flush a $100,000 check down the toilet.

If you missed that story, this Xtranormal video will help:

Elsewhere in the DMV:

* Good or bad? Two of Washington’s leading papers have different takes on how President Obama’s proposed budget will impact D.C. The Washington Post says the president’s plan “protects many District programs from the federal budget ax,” and “urges Congress to steer more federal resources to move the Department of Homeland Security to the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Ward 8, allocate additional funds to fight HIV/AIDS and create a $5 million fund for local nonprofit arts organizations.”

But the Examiner says the Obama plan will “hit local budgets,” noting Obama’s call for “cutting $300 million from the Community Development Block Grant program local governments use to pay for economic-development initiatives in impoverished areas,” a big cut in low income home heating assistance, and a ban on using Pell Grants to pay for summer courses.

Over in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley is praising the president’s budget. In the Baltimore Sun, O’Malley writes, “After eight years in which Washington squandered record surpluses in favor of record deficits, all of us, regardless of party, can agree that progress is only possible with fiscal responsibility and restraint. … What differentiates the president's budget from the House Republicans' proposal is the call to be responsible in how we cut.”

* DOES Needs Women -- er, men, according to Marion Barry. During a hearing on the nomination of Rochelle Webb to head the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the Ward 8 councilmember went off on Webb over the fact that her executive committee is all female.

Barry told the nominee, “I know it was not intentional but I wanted to point out to you that I’m a little disturbed that there are no men. I’m sure that going forward, as positions open up, that you’re going to find some qualified men to fill those positions.” According to Washington City Paper, Webb “tried to respond that she looks for the best candidates regardless of gender, but Barry kept interrupting her, saying: ‘Dr. Webb, that is unacceptable to me.’”

Barry later told the Post, “I sure did say that and don’t apologize for it. When there are no men on the labor council, what does that say to the community? That there are no qualified men to hold any of those positions?” But one of Barry’s colleagues wasn’t having it. Ward 4’s Muriel Bowser tweeted, “CM Barry insists that new DOES director hire a man as part of her executive team. Excuse me? I don’t remember any fuss w/ all male leadership.”

* At-Large D.C. Council special election contender Jacque Patterson, one of the four or five candidates with a shot at victory, did a live chat with Greater Greater Washington on Monday. Patterson said he would take on the city’s deficit by becoming “more efficient in claiming what’s owed us by the federal government, such as Medicaid reimbursements,” and that he would promote “job readiness, making sure D.C. residents are prepared to take and keep the jobs that we create in the District.”

* Mary Cheh is off to Gitmo. The Examiner reports the Ward 3 councilmember “is spending the week at Guantanamo Bay as an observer of the US military’s terrorist detention program there.” Cheh, a constitutional law professor at the George Washington University Law School, is “taking the trip as a private citizen, not in her capacity as a councilwoman.”

* Former governor Tim Kaine, currently the head of the Democratic National Committee, will address about 1,500 Virginia Democratic activists at the party’s Jefferson-Jackson this Saturday. It could be an indicator that Kaine is open to a U.S. Senate run.

* Gov. Bob McDonnell will meet today “with the 12 senior senators and delegates assigned to work out a compromise between the two chambers’ plans for amending the state’s two-year budget,” the Post reports. The budget conferees met for half an hour Monday, and “largely discussed scheduling future meetings.” Your tax dollars at work.

* The Post says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli “is accusing Arlington County of engaging in ‘legal thuggery’ with an ‘an egregiously frivolous’ and ‘dirty’ lawsuit against the state’s proposed construction of High Occupancy Toll lanes along I-95 in Northern Virginia.” Cuccinelli “issued a lengthy statement castigating the county for its lawsuit” -- even though the county agreed to drop the suit last week.

* The Examiner reports Prince William County may sue the Department of Homeland Security “for records on thousands of criminal illegal immigrants county police turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” ICE “missed Monday’s court-ordered deadline to release a report on Carlos Martinelly Montano, an illegal immigrant charged with killing a nun in a drunken driving accident.”

* The azaleas are saved!  DCist reports that “thanks to a private $1 million donation to the Friends of the National Arboretum,” Azalea Hill, “one of the most breathtaking collections of the plants in the world,” will not be eliminated.

* The Smithsonian American Art Museum is planning an exhibition on the “40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies,” and wants your help in picking the best examples, We Love D.C. writes.

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

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