<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington https://www.nbcwashington.comen-usWed, 13 Dec 2017 00:43:23 -0500Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:43:23 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Conservative Minister Joins Senate Race to Challenge Kaine]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:38:10 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110816+virginia+flag.jpg

A conservative minister announced he's joining the fight for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018.

E.W. Jackson announced his campaign Monday on The John Fredericks Show radio program. The lawyer-turned-preacher ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2013. 

He joins Corey Stewart, a former state campaign chairman of President Donald Trump, and Del. Nick Freitas, as announced candidates. 

Jackson on Monday previewed a possibly contentious fight with Stewart for the nomination, suggesting Stewart supports tax increases and may be sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Stewart said both claims were "ridiculous." 

Jackson's fiery rhetoric added a touch of drama to his 2013 race. He compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and said former President Barack Obama may be an atheist or a Muslim.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Downtown DC Residents Gripe About Street Musician Noise]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:08:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/121117+dc+chinatown+music+complaints.jpg

Street musicians drum on buckets day and night, and amplified music blares.

You live in a busy, bustling city, but how much noise is too much noise?

Dozens of downtown D.C. residents attended a D.C. Council meeting on Monday to ask for relief from street noise. They urged officials to enforce noise laws or pass tougher ones.

David Mitchell and his daughter, Emma Mitchell, said the commotion has a serious impact on their lives. Emma Mitchell is blind and uses voice-activated computer programs.

"The noise is so significant that our daughter cannot use her software voice-over programs to complete her homework, read or perform other tasks of daily living," David Mitchell said.

Emma Mitchell sometimes stays at George Washington University because the noise at home is so intense.

"I use [the program] VoiceOver on my Mac, and it allows me to write papers via dictation, and without the computer and my iPhone, I wouldn't be able to interact with the world," she said. 

The Mitchells moved to Gallery Place to enjoy the vibrancy of the city, not to endure the endless music that invades their upper-floor home.

Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans represents downtown D.C. He said nearly 10,000 people live there now with lots of intrusive noise.

Labor union leaders said noise laws can't be allowed to inhibit their demonstrations. John Boardman of Unite Here, Local 25 urged the city to enforce current laws worked out years ago.

"The Council was very, very good about drafting them. What we have in a number of situations is a lack of enforcement," he said.

It's unclear when or if the Council will take any new action on noise.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: A Taxing Time for Affordable Housing …]]> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:49:46 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Muriel+Bowser+Presser.jpg

Since 2010, D.C. has added more than 9,000 units of affordable housing in the city. Nearly all of it depends upon subsidies achieved through federal tax breaks.

Meanwhile, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration has separately budgeted $100 million in each of the past three years for housing.

This may all amount to an impressive sum, but housing activists say it’s far short of what’s needed in a city experiencing a boom in expensive housing amid rising costs for both home ownership and rental units.

Now, the federal tax cuts being considered by Republicans on Capitol Hill could strike another hard blow. Some provisions would eliminate federal housing tax breaks that developers use to build affordable units for seniors and low-income people.

“We are not going to wait to see what happens to affordable housing,” Bowser insisted on Monday. The mayor announced the city would issue a record $500 million in new bonds to fund more than 4,000 new units of housing. The bonds are to be sold by the end of December in order to qualify for federal tax programs.

“I’m taking this action to ensure that we can produce and preserve 4,000 more units of affordable housing regardless of how these tax reforms end up,” said Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for planning and economic development. Kenner said that means the city will go ahead with the ramped-up program even if the House and Senate back off eliminating the breaks during the tax bill’s reconciliation conference process.

“The conference may decide they have a heart, that they are going to be compassionate,” said at-large D.C. Council member Anita Bonds, chair of the council’s housing committee. “But you and I doubt that.”

Monday’s news conference was held outside of Delta Towers, a 147-unit senior citizen home run since the 1980s by a nonprofit arm of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, whose members serve without pay to run the project. With housing funds from the mayor’s plan, the Florida Avenue NE tower is to be replaced by a new building next door. The new facility will have 179 units for seniors.

“The city is very much under attack as far as the real estate and the cost of living here,” said Toni White-Richardson, president of the Delta Housing Corp.

“And these are seniors who were born here, raised here and they were having a hard time staying here,” White-Richardson told News4. “So it’s our intent to make sure they can live in the city where they were born.”

Subsidized housing can be found all over the city. The need is great.

Delta Towers is in a gentrifying part of the city near the “Starburst” intersection of Florida, Benning Road and H Street NE.

“When this building was built, we were the flagship on this corner when this area was considered to be blight,” White-Richardson told us. “And we kept it moving, and we’ve never turned around. What [the new funds] mean is that we get an opportunity to put in more affordable housing for the seniors!”

■Taking its toll. Monday’s inaugural day for new charges on Virginia’s Interstate 66 within the Beltway didn’t go as well as planned.

The new variable toll system hit $34.50 at the peak of the morning rush. That’s almost four times what the state’s highway officials had suggested might occur at peak traffic.

The high tolls got a quick response over in Maryland, where the Transit Opportunities Coalition slammed the costly rates in Virginia and warned it could wind up across the Potomac.

“Thirty dollar toll lanes are truly Lexus lanes,” said coalition leader Ben Ross. The group warned that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s toll plans for I-270 could result in even higher prices between Frederick and Shady Grove.

In September, Hogan proposed a $9 billion transit relief plan for the District’s Maryland suburbs, including toll lanes on I-495, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Hogan called it the largest public-private partnership for highways in the nation and said the tolling would make the additional roadways possible without raising taxes.

Critics have jumped on the $9 billion outline, saying many details are left for later and work would be done after Hogan’s 2018 re-election bid.

“This will cost drivers of our state enormous amounts of money,” said Maryland Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery County, who was quoted in The Washington Post. Madaleno is a candidate for the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan and is vice chair of the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Madaleno said based on Virginia’s experience with tolling, rates in Maryland could be as high as $40 an hour.

■ Pearl Harbor. With all the world events going on, it sometimes feels lost in history, but Dec. 7 is a date worthy of respect and remembrance.

That day in 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II. The Japanese attack killed more than 2,300 Americans, and destroyed or damaged 19 ships and over 300 aircraft.

The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt called Dec. 7 “a date which will live in infamy.” Congress declared war on Japan. Within days, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

On Thursday, the National Park Service and the Friends of the National World War II Memorial will remember this terrible day and honor all those who died in the attack, those who fought and those who assisted. The special event will take place at 12:53 p.m., the time the attack occurred. The ceremony is open to the public.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News4.

<![CDATA[DC Council Wants Proof of Residency for Sheltering Homeless]]> Tue, 05 Dec 2017 18:52:46 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC_Council_Wants_Homeless_to_Prove_Residency_Before_Getting.jpg

The D.C. Council wants homeless people to show proof they actually lived in the city before becoming homeless before they are given shelter. Tom Sherwood reports housing activists warn the new law will put more people at risk during the winter.

<![CDATA[House Tax Bill May Squeeze DC's Affordable Housing Budget]]> Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:12:35 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/House_Tax_Bill_Could_Affect_Affordable_Housing.jpg

The creation and maintenance of affordable housing developments may be at risk amid passage of the House of Representative’s tax bill, News4’s Tom Sherwood reports.

Delta Towers, a Section 8 housing facility devoted to seniors ages 55 and up, is an example of a development that would be affected by the House’s tax bill. Its 147 Northeast D.C. units are more than 40 years old and falling into disrepair.

The complex is currently in line for millions of dollars in federally subsidized housing funds, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Federal subsidies would help build a new Delta Towers with 179 units on the development’s side lot; however, the funds could disappear if the Republican tax bill goes into effect.

“The biggest piece of financing for this goes away if the tax bill moves forward as planned,” said Corey Powell, a member of the Delta Towers development team.

Bowser said she plans to rectify this projected deficit in affordable housing by expediting the issuance of tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs), she said Monday.

Bowser’s administration is issuing a record $500 million in housing construction bonds before the end of December to fund thousands of new units, she said Monday. Delta Towers is included in her project.

Before the Republican tax bill was drafted, Bowser’s administration committed about $100 million per year on affordable housing bonds. Now, because the tax benefits associated with PABs used for low-income housing could be eliminated, Bowser is seeking to deliver the funds all at once, instead of over time.

“We are not going to wait to see what happens to affordable housing,” Bowser said.

The District of Columbia's Housing Finance Agency anticipates that this expedited influx of funds will preserve its ability to leverage tax-exempt bonds for affordable housing development through the year 2020, as permitted by the House-passed tax bill.

This would allow for the production or preservation of 4,000 units of affordable housing, Bowser said in a press release.

<![CDATA[Democrats Request Recounts in 2 Virginia House Districts]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 17:06:15 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/voting-booth.jpg

Virginia Democrats have filed recount requests in two House of Delegates districts, and the challenges could determine partisan control of the chamber following elections that sharply reduced the GOP majority.

Democrats announced Wednesday they have asked for recounts in districts where Republicans hold razor-thin leads. One is in Northern Virginia and the other in Newport News.

In House District 40, which includes parts of Prince William and Fairfax counties, Democrat Donte Tanner is 106 votes behnid Republican Delegate Tim Hugo. the Virginia Democratic Party said in a statement.

In Newport News, the Republican incumbent Delegate Dave Yancy has a 10-vote lead over Democrat Shelly Simonds, Virginia Democrats said.

A Democratic tidal wave earlier this month wiped out Republicans' near supermajority in the House. The GOP currently holds a 51-49 House majority. Besides the two recount requests filed in court Wednesday, Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit over a close race in the Fredericksburg-area where election officials say several dozen voters were given the wrong ballot. That race could also head to a recount.

Recount results are expected to be completed next month.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Wrapping Up…Moving Up? ]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 05:35:54 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-632690128.jpg

Our neighbor to the south, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is entering the final six weeks of his term in office. But don’t think he’s finished with politics, either in his state or in the nation.

McAuliffe appeared last week on the WAMU Politics Hour with host Kojo Nnamdi, where your Notebook is the resident analyst. It was McAuliffe’s final appearance as governor, and we touched on a variety of issues that affect the District.

First up: the future of Metro. Although he gave no details, McAuliffe reaffirmed that the final biennial budget he’ll propose in December will include a "dedicated source of funding" for the troubled transit system. He first suggested he might do so last September.

But at the radio station, McAuliffe would give nary a hint of what that funding would be.

"I’m not going to get ahead of my skies on the budget," McAuliffe said when pressed. We asked him for a ballpark of ideas he considering.

“Listen, I know what I am doing,” the governor replied. "I’ve already plugged it into my budget. All I’m telling you is on Dec. 18, you will see in our great commonwealth budget that I have dedicated funding in it."

McAuliffe quickly pivoted to worries about Metro’s management structure. "This governance issue, we should not just jump over," he said, “because in fairness, it doesn’t work.” McAuliffe supports reducing the board from 16 seats to five.

Although some believe reducing the board would require a rewrite of the regional compact that created Metro, McAuliffe says it could be done more simply. Maryland, Virginia, the District and the federal government would decide what five members there would be and the others would resign. The board only needs five members for a quorum.

McAuliffe suggested the dramatic restructuring of the board may allow the state to approve that dedicated funding. "This is not easy," he said. "I’ve got to pass it through my legislature."

The District government has decided it would implement a 1 percent sales tax to come up with its “dedicated” funding. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed a short-term plan for each jurisdiction to come up with money for three years and then re-evaluate after more management reforms are in place.

"This is about showing leadership," McAuliffe said, "about showing persuasion." McAuliffe paved the way for his budget plan — whatever it is going to be — by commissioning a report from former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. That report has still not been officially released but was leaked to The Washington Post. In it LaHood recommended the smaller, more efficient board that would not include any elected officials.

In response, some local leaders said that changing the board was missing the point. "The idea that five technocrats somehow are going to usher in a new age of Pericles and provide the wisdom apparently we don’t have now is a false promise and raises expectations that will be quickly dashed," said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, quoted in a story by WAMU reporter Martin DiCaro.

LaHood also said dedicated funding is critical but, in a move that irritated many, failed to recommend what type of dedicated funding, leaving it up to the governments.

"We’ve got to quit putting roadblocks up around Metro," said McAuliffe, who said the 40-year-old system can’t take more years of management inefficiency.

Whatever he proposes, McAuliffe won’t be around to see it happen. Virginia is a one-term state for governors. McAuliffe leaves office Jan. 13. Incoming Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam will steer the state through the next chapter.

During the WAMU interview, McAuliffe also said he still wants to see the Washington Redskins build a billion-dollar stadium in Northern Virginia. He says the state will work with the team on a site, but the team would pay for any stadium.

“We’ve had a lot of great meetings with them,” he said. And McAuliffe reiterated that the team’s name won’t be a problem. That could be a hangup in the District. McAuliffe said Virginia is more interested in economic development and entertainment in the state.

What of McAuliffe himself?

He and his wife are moving back from Richmond to Northern Virginia. But McAuliffe has his eye a bit farther east — on the White House. It’s early, and there are a dozen or two people "mentioned" as potential 2020 Democratic candidates. McAuliffe sees himself among them.

"I don’t know what I am going to do, yet," he told us. "But in order for a Democrat to win the White House, you have to have a jobs candidate … someone who focuses on economic development." He spent the next minutes rattling off positive economic statistics.

We pointed out on the show that past is prologue. McAuliffe first ran for governor in 2009 but was beaten by Creigh Deeds, the Democrat who went on to lose to Republican Bob McDonnell.

McAuliffe didn’t slink away. He spent the next four years crisscrossing the state, attending more than 2,400 events in support of local Democrats and Virginia businesses. By 2013, McAuliffe won his party’s nomination and the governorship.

Watch him in 2018. McAuliffe intends to campaign nationwide for U.S. House and Senate candidates. But he says he’ll also focus on the 36 governor races next year. "They like the way Virginia is going, and that’s the message we have to take to the country," he said.

McAuliffe enjoys campaigning, has a proven record of fundraising and could be positioned well if America looks for a competent politician rather than an outsider in the next election.

"I think anybody realistically who is thinking about running for president would probably be looking at early ’19 to make a decision," McAuliffe said.

Until then, watch his travel schedule.

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Gov. Disgusted by Reports of Sex Harassment in Entertainment, Media, Politics]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:27:18 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Virginia_Governor_Disgusted_by_Reports_of_Sex_Harassment_in.jpg

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he's disgusted by reports of sexual harassment taking place in Hollywood, media and politics.

<![CDATA[Maryland Official Wants Sweeping Change in Craft Beer Rules]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:50:13 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/beer+generic+glass.jpg

Maryland's comptroller is recommending sweeping changes to the state's regulation of craft breweries. 

Comptroller Peter Franchot unveiled a legislative package Monday that would eliminate limits on sales from taprooms and for take-home consumption for the state's breweries. It also would eliminate limits on beer production for breweries that faced caps and let localities set taproom hours, The Baltimore Sun reports. 

Franchot says those type of limits have stifled a promising economic engine. 

The comptroller's office says the proposals largely reflect the findings of the Comptroller's Reform on Tap Task Force. The panel held eight meetings on the state's current laws and the impact they have on the craft brewing industry. 

The task force's report found Maryland's regulations are far tighter than those in Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dems Opt for State-Run Primary in Virginia's 10th District]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 17:44:52 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110816+virginia+flag.jpg

Democrats will hold a state-run primary next year in their race to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock from a northern Virginia congressional district.

The 10th Congressional District is widely considered vulnerable after this month's elections, in which Democrats swept statewide office and picked up numerous seats in the House of Delegates. Democrat Ralph Northam won the district with 56 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race.

The 10th District Congressional Committee voted Saturday to hold a state-run primary, rather than a convention or "firehouse primary,'' to nominate a candidate for the 2018 race. Nine Democrats, including state Senator Jennifer Wexton, have already announced plans to run for the seat.

The district stretches from wealthy precincts of McLean inside the Capital Beltway, through suburban Loudoun County and west to Winchester.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Suit Filed for Absentee Votes Not Counted in Stafford County]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:55:06 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Norwich+Connecticut+voting+generic.jpg

Dozens of absentee ballots that were found at a post office in Stafford County, Virginia, the morning after this month's election will not be counted. The Virginia House Democratic Caucus filed a lawsuit demanding the ballots be counted.

The Stafford County Electoral Board voted Tuesday that the 55 ballots, some from members of the military, cannot be counted, per Virginia law. 

The Caucus said they were disappointed in the decision and filed a suit on behalf of the Joshua Cole campaign to get those ballots counted.

In the 28th District race, Republican Bob Thomas now leads Joshua Cole by 82 votes. Thomas previously had 84 more votes than Cole. The total changed after provisional ballots were counted. 

The board directed the registrar to ask the state election board to review their practices so absentee ballots do not fall through the cracks.

Of 50 provisional ballots that were opened and counted by the Stafford County Electoral Board, 10 were rejected. 

The race was watched closely because the Virginia House of Delegates is split, with 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. Just one district turning blue would create a 50/50 split.

Cole's campaign manager said he expects to call for a recount.

"This is making sure that every vote is counted. And if this is what it's been so far, I imagine that not every vote has been counted properly and we will have to call for a recount," he said. 

Clectoral boards met Monday and Tuesday to count provisional ballots, which voters cast when they arrive without photo ID. 

In the 94th District in Newport News and in northern Virginia's 40th, the GOP incumbents remained ahead. 

Democrats have picked up 15 seats so far. If they flipped one more, the chamber would be tied.

Recounts are possible in all three races.

<![CDATA[Provisional Ballot Count Underway for Key Virginia Races]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 18:43:11 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/certified+votes+virginia.png

Election officials in Virginia are counting provisional ballots, and the results could change which political party controls the state's House of Delegates.

The House is split, with 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. Just one district turning blue would create a 50/50 split, with Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, holding the tie-breaking vote.

Three House of Delegates races in the state are too close to call, including in the 28th District, which includes parts of Stafford County and Fredericksburg.

Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by just 84 votes.

The Stafford County Electoral Board voted in a closed session Monday to seek a legal opinion on whether it can count 55 absentee ballots -- some from military service members -- that were found the morning after the election at a post office just down the street from the board's office. 

"The court will make the final decision as to whether these 55 ballots will be counted," electoral board chair Doug Filler said. 

In addition to the 55 absentee ballots, there’s an unknown number of provisional ballots. Provisional ballots often are cast because a voter failed to bring proper identification to the polls. They are counted after other votes. Also, some claim another 1,100 absentee ballots are not being counted.

Protesters chanted and held signs in Stafford County Monday morning, concerned that some votes would not be counted.

Thomas' campaign said in a statement: "The Thomas campaign is firmly committed to fair, open and honest elections -- based upon the laws of the Commonwealth. \We believe that every vote that was legally cast should be counted under the provisions prescribed within the Code of Virginia."

Cole told News4, "We have to make sure there is fairness and equality across the board, and that's really what we are concerned about -- to make sure everybody has an opportunity for their voice to be heard."

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus is concerned that voters "may have been improperly disenfranchised."

“We continue to monitor the canvass in Stafford County very closely and remain concerned that military and overseas voters may have been improperly disenfranchised in violation of the U.S Constitution and federal and state law," they said in a statement. "We will watch carefully what the board does [Tuesday] and will assess our options at that time. But make no mistake, we will do everything we can to ensure that every eligible voter has his or her vote counted."

Voters had the chance to defend their ballots to county officials. They initially had to do so by Monday at noon. On Monday afternoon, the Stafford County electoral board gave provisional ballot voters one more day to defend their ballots. Fifty people who voted this way were notified they could follow up to try to make their vote count.

In District 40, which covers parts of Fairfax County and Prince William County, Democrats claimed a victory before officials uncovered that a voting machine error gave Donte Tanner an extra 100 votes. Long-time Republican incumbent Tim Hugo now has the lead. 

On Monday, Fairfax County accepted 16 provisional ballots for this race. Tanner gained 12 votes and Hugo gained 4. Those results do not include the District 40 precincts that fall into Prince William County. 

Overall, the Fairfax County Electoral Board accepted 360 provisional ballots on Monday, out of 686 that were cast. 

Once electoral boards determine which ballots should be accepted, the final votes will be calculated. Then, the votes will be reviewed by a state office and certified. 

The results could be released as early as Monday, officials said.

<![CDATA[Alexandria Vice Mayor to Challenge Current Mayor in Primary]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 08:07:55 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Justin+Wilson+alexandria+vice+mayor.png

Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson announced his bid for the Democratic nomination to run for the city's next mayoral election.

Wilson will challenge fellow democrat and current mayor Allison Silberburg ahead of the primary election, which will be held in June 2018.

After serving his first term from 2007 to 2009, Wilson was elected to city council again in 2012. In 2016, he was appointed vice mayor.

Wilson says early childhood education and economic development, including bringing Metro to Potomac Yard, are among his top priorities.

"I believe Alexandria can be the progressive and dynamic community that not only talks about our vision for the future, but actually achieves it," Wilson said in a statement announcing his candidacy.

Mayor Silberberg began her term in 2016.

<![CDATA[Kaine Says Democratic Successes Show Rejection of Trump]]> Sun, 12 Nov 2017 20:55:48 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110916+tim+kaine.jpg

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine says the Democratic success in last week's Virginia election was like what he had hoped to accomplish when he ran on the Democratic presidential ticket last year with Hillary Clinton.

"Tuesday night was like the celebration I wanted to have a year ago," Kaine said Saturday, during a speech hosted by the Lynchburg College Democrats.

Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate, discussed Governor-elect Ralph Northam's win and numerous local elections that went to Democrats. He said Virginians used the election to reject what he called the ``divisiveness'' of Republican President Donald Trump's administration.

In an interview with the News & Advance after his speech, Kaine dismissed the notion of a presidential bid in 2020, saying he is running for reelection to the Senate in 2018.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Democrats Concerned About Vote Count in Tight Virginia Delegate Race]]> Fri, 10 Nov 2017 20:40:58 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Democrats_Concerned_About_Vote_Count_in_Tight_Virginia_Deleg.jpg

Three days after Election Day, some campaign headquarters remain staffed with volunteers, including the race for the House of Delegates in Stafford County, where there are claims some voters’ voices are being silenced.

Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by just 84 votes in Virginia’s 28th House District.

The House is split, with 49 Democrats and 51 Republicans, but three races are too close to call. Just one turning blue would create a 50/50 split, with Democrat Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax holding the tiebreaking vote.

Cole said he believes his race could be the one to create that split if the Stafford County registrar agrees to count certain ballots.

“We don’t know who those votes are for, but it’s the fact of the matter that citizens’ voices are being muffled, and we shouldn’t have that,” he said.

Democrats in Stafford County say 55 military absentee ballots aren’t being counted but should. Then there’s an unknown number of provisional ballots. Democrats say the registrar hasn’t told them that exact number and they want to know it. Some also claim another 1,100 absentee ballots that aren’t being counted.

Democrats say the military absentee ballots and the provisional ballots could determine the outcome of the election.

“If they were legally there on time, then I would want them to be counted, just like everybody would,” Thomas said.

Thomas believes the registrar is abiding by the rules.

The registrar didn’t respond to an email request for an interview.

“The people that will ultimately make that decision are the electoral board, not just the registrar,” Thomas said. “He works for them. Those three people will ultimately have the decision to finalize the numbers, and it’s two Democrats and a Republican. And I trust their judgment.”

Cole said he’s prepared for any outcome.

“Whether we win or we don’t win, I’m feeling good,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m preparing for 2018 already, to prepare to fight again. We, the Democrats showed their voice. We understand that this district is not as red as they thought.”

<![CDATA[Danica Roem on Becoming Virginia's First Openly Transgender Legislator]]> Fri, 10 Nov 2017 20:17:50 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000020836957_1200x675_1093507651835.jpg

Delegate-elect Danica Roem talks about her Election Day win, transgender people in the military, and Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart's apology to her. She spoke with News4's Shomari Stone

<![CDATA[Maryland Dems Hope to Unseat Hogan in 2018]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 19:34:27 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maryland_Dems_Hope_to_Unseat_Hogan_in_2018.jpg

Maryland Democrats hope to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan next year, but Hogan is already putting up a fight. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.

<![CDATA[Why Virginia Is Still a Swing State]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 13:52:04 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110817+virginia+govenors+race+results.jpg

From the top of the ticket to the bottom, the Democratic Party swept all three statewide races in Virginia on Election Day.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon dismissed concerns about Republican Ed Gillespie's loss, saying Wednesday night on Fox News that the Commonwealth is a "blue state" now. 

But other political analysts told News4 they believe Virginia is still very much a swing state.

"The best measure of a swing state is whether both parties think it's viable," says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

Farnsworth says Virginia's diverse population is what makes it such a competitive state during election cycles.

"What you have in Virginia is a distinct culture compared to other Southern states. There are a lot of people that come to Virginia from other states, so messages about Confederate statues won't work as well here as in Georgia," Farnsworth said. 

And it's that electoral competitiveness that makes Virginia a swing state, not its recent trend of being a blue-leaning state. Electoral competitiveness is the product of having about the same amount of partisan voters in the electorate and depending on independent voters to settle the race.

"Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have always been covered as battleground states despite them voting blue, but 2016 was the first time they actually swung," said Rachel Bitecofer, the assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. "Just because it doesn't swing for a while doesn't mean it won't swing."

Bitecofer and Farnsworth say the Democratic Party's win in Virginia was not a surprising one given the current political atmosphere.

"The Republicans historically have been investing a lot in Virginia in presidential years and gubernatorial years," said Farnsworth. "I think what you saw in Virginia on Tuesday is a reaction to Trump."

Virginia is the only Southern state President Donald Trump lost last year.

"The signs of a wave have been there for months," Bitecofer added. "More voters participated in the Democratic primary, the Democrats fielded an unusual amount of candidates, they had more volunteers, money."

Both Farnsworth and Bitecofer agreed that if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, Gillespie may have had a better chance of becoming Virginia's next governor.

"The real enthusiasm would've still lied with the Republicans," Bitecofer said. "This is the type of condition in which you expect Democrats to make gains."

Virginia was solidly red until 2008, when it became a battleground state. 

"During the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, there was very little invested in Virginia as far as presidential campaigns," Farnsworth said. "Lyndon B. Johnson won the state in 1964, and after that, Democrats didn't win the state again until Obama in 2008."

Farnsworth said some states, like Florida, are perennial battleground states. But Virginia has only been tightly contested for the past three election cycles. 

"The best guess on whether Virginia will remain a swing state is whether the Republicans invest a lot of money in the 2020 election," Farnsworth said. 

Farnsworth said he thinks Virginia is moving in a "bluer direction," but it's definitely still a "purple state."

"Beyond 2020 we'll see, but at least for the next election cycle, Virginia will be very competitive," Farnsworth said. 

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Governor-Elect Northam Sets Out Priorities]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:41:03 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Virginia_Governor_Elect_Northam_Sets_Out_Priorities.jpg

Ralph Northam jumped right into his agenda the day after he was elected Virginia's new governor, saying he promises to stand up to President Trump on issues such as immigration. News4's David Culver reports Northam explained how he hopes to win over the people who voted for his Republican opponent.

<![CDATA[Meet Va. Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax After His Historic Win]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:27:21 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Justin_Fairfax.jpg

Justin Fairfax is Virginia's newly elected lieutenant governor -- and the first African-American man elected to statewide office since 1989. News4's Tom Sherwood introduces you to Fairfax.

<![CDATA[Surge of Women Elected to Virginia House of Delegates]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:14:49 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Surge_of_Women_Charges_into_Virginia_Politics.jpg

Virginians elected a slew of women to office in 2017. Most of them were new candidates, and many beat male incumbents. News4's Julie Carey speaks with several winners.

<![CDATA[A County-by-County Look at How Virginia Voted for Governor]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:09:47 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110817+virginia+govenors+race+results.jpg

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam handily won the hard-fought Virginia governor's race Tuesday, beating Republican Ed Gillespie with a nearly 9 point lead.

Northam won 53.9 percent of votes, Gillespie won 45 percent of votes and Libertarian Clifford Hyra got 1.1 percent.

In the Washington, D.C. suburbs, the governor-elect won big in Arlington, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County and Prince William County. He lost to Gillespie in Culpepper, Fauquier and Spotsylvania counties.

Statewide voter turnout was strong. As of late Tuesday, more than 2.5 million votes had been counted. That's up 14 percent from the 2013 governor's race, when more than 2.2 million votes were cast.

Here's a county-by-county look at how jurisdictions near D.C. voted:

Arlington County
Northam: 80.1 percent
Gillespie: 18.9 percent

City of Alexandria
Northam: 78.4 percent
Gillespie: 20.7 percent

Culpepper County
Northam: 36.7 percent
Gillespie: 61.9 percent

City of Fairfax
Northam: 64.8 percent
Gillespie: 34 percent

Fairfax County
Northam: 67.9 percent
Gillespie: 31.2 percent

Fauquier County
Northam: 39.2 percent
Gillespie: 59. 7 percent

City of Fredericksburg
Northam: 64.4 percent
Gillespie: 34.1 percent

Loudoun County
Northam: 59.4 percent
Gillespie: 39.5 percent

City of Manassas
Northam: 56.9 percent
Gillespie: 41.9 percent

City of Manassas Park
Northam: 63.6 percent
Gillespie: 34.6 percent

Prince William County
Northam: 60.7 percent
Gillespie: 38.2 percent

Spotsylvania County
Northam: 43.1 percent
Gillespie: 55.7 percent

Stafford County
Northam: 46.8 percent
Gillespie: 52 percent

Statewide, 57 percent of voters included in NBC News exit polls said they disapproved of how President Donald Trump is handling his job. Of those polled, 34 percent said expressing opposition to Trump was one reason for their vote. Seventeen percent said expressing support for Trump was one reason to cast their vote.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[2.5 Million Voters Went to the Polls in Va. Tuesday]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:08:00 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2.5_Million_Voters_Went_to_the_Polls_Tuesday.jpg

2.5 million Virginians voted Tuesday, but many said President Donald Trump was not a driving force behind their vote. New4's Chris Lawrence explains what voters say motivated them to head to the polls. 

<![CDATA[Jaffe: Money, Power and Dead Bodies in DC's Worst Hospital]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:32:18 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/080917+united+medical+center+umc.jpg

Harry Jaffe, a longtime chronicler of the people and politics of Washington, D.C., writes a column for NBC Washington's First Read DMV blog.

It’s no secret that poor African-American residents of D.C. east of the Anacostia River get shafted while the rest of the nation’s capital basks in boom times.

The divide came into stark relief last week with reports of another poor person dying under questionable circumstances under the care of the United Medical Center, the only hospital east of the river. For decades the District’s publicly owned hospital has served up subpar health care, while largely white neighborhoods west of the Anacostia can choose from four hospitals that are among the nation’s best.

How come? The cost of caring for the city’s most poor and vulnerable is high with little return, for sure. But in sorting through the contracts and connections, I can’t help but see money, politics and mismanagement contributing to the undependable health care.

All of that will come into play Tuesday, when the D.C. Council is scheduled to weigh the extension of the contract to manage UMC.

The latest abomination came to light thanks to excellent reporting by the Washington Post’s Peter Jamison. Warren Webb, a UMC nursing home patient with AIDS, died Aug. 25 after begging for help, falling out of his bed and dying in his own excrement on the floor. The hospital then fudged reports on the incident.

Webb’s death followed a drumbeat of disheartening news reported by Jamison and the Washington Business Journal’s Tina Reed. In July the hospital lost track of a body. In August the D.C. health department shut down the obstetrics unit because of inadequate care. In early October the nurses voted “no confidence” in the hospital’s management company, Veritas

Last week the Council’s health committee grilled Veritas officials on why the company deserved a $4.2 million extension of a contract that’s already paid the firm $5 million in public funds.

David Boucree, the Veritas official running UMC, acknowledged he had no experience running a health care facility.

“It raises a lot of questions for me,” at-large Council member Elissa Silverman tells me.

How did Veritas, a company that’s been in D.C. for a couple of years, land such a sweet contract? Answer: great connections and campaign contributions, rather than stellar credentials.

Corbett Price is behind Veritas, though he’s not formally listed in its leadership.

“I am a senior advisor,” Price tells me.

Price has been in the business of working with troubled public hospitals for decades, starting in the 1990s with his company Kurron. But he has not always achieved positive results.

“During that time,” said a report by WNYC public radio, “Kurron and Price have cut a trail of financial and medical mismanagement, run-ins with regulators and public controversies -- not least repeated clashes with health care unions -- up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”

Price acknowledged the negative stories but says: “Most restructuring people get lousy press.” When Interfaith Medical Center, the public hospital he was managing in New York, went bankrupt, Price started Veritas in D.C., where he had family roots.

Price is married to Chrystie Boucree, a member of a well-connected Ward 4 family close to Mayor Muriel Bowser. Her parents, Dr. Stanley Boucree and Catherine, are said to be close to Bowser’s parents. In 2014 Bowser put Dr. Boucree on her transition team.

Bowser’s office did not respond to questions about Price.

When Corbett Price set up shop in D.C., the Boucrees asked him to raise funds for Bowser, who was running for her first term, he says. “I held a fundraiser for her in Martha’s Vineyard,” he says. “That’s were I first met her.”

Price, his companies and family would contribute more than $35,000 to the mayor’s campaign, campaign finance records show. Though Price had no transit experience and had not lived in the D.C. region, Bowser appointed him to the Metro board.

Enter Wayne Turnage, executive director of D.C.’s Health Care Finance Agency, responsible for funding UMC. Huron Consulting Group, hired by then-mayor Vincent Gray, had exited the hospital.

“Find an operator,” Bowser told Turnage, he tells me.

Without putting the contract out to bid, Turnage approached Price, because he believed Price had experience turning hospitals around. Turnage says Bowser “did not recommend Price but was aware of the contract.”

Did Price’s turnaround efforts in New York and another problem project in the Bahamas present red flags? “No,” Turnage says. “They did a good job in New York. You have to do unpopular things in that situation.”

Turnage presented the Veritas contract to the UMC board, which approved it.

Corbett Price installed his wife as Veritas president. She then brought on her cousin, David, to manage UMC. 

Capitalizing on political connections and installing family members doesn’t disqualify Veritas, but it doesn’t instill confidence either. UMC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Craig, last week charged Veritas with “mismanagement and malfeasance.” Veritas’ detailed response called his charges false.

On the surface, UMC shows well. Last Thursday David Boucree gave me a tour of the hospital, on Southern Avenue bordering Prince George's County. It’s in much better shape that the last times I visited a few years ago. The elevators worked, the floors were shined, the emergency department was bustling, and the nursing facility’s social room appeared to be well-organized.

Boucree has worked in corporate management for the last 36 years -- “from space to parking meters.” But no health care or hospitals.

“I saw it as a challenge,” Boucree tells me. “A way of giving back.”

He declined to divulge his compensation to me but told the Council his annual salary was $210,000.

Now the D.C. Council is poised to vote on the Veritas contract extension. Health committee Chair Vince Gray would like to use UMC’s failures to beat up Bowser, who he might challenge for mayor next year. But Gray has to share the responsibility. Huron, the consultant before Veritas, came in under his watch.

Says Elissa Silverman: “Everyone’s guilty.”

“Besides,” Corbett Price says, "the doctors and nurses there now were there in the Gray administration.”

Veritas and UMC are in talks with the GW Medical Faulty Associates to take over its emergency room, which could be a move forward. But UMC’s efforts in the past to partner with Medstar failed.

What’s next?

The District has invested $316.8 million in capital and operating funds since 2007, according to the chief financial officer. It might make fiscal sense to close UMC, but not having a hospital east of the Anacostia River is not politically possible.

Bowser is developing a plan to build a new hospital on the St. Elizabeth’s campus for $330 million. Even that’s problematic, because it still leaves open the question of whether a successful hospital group like Johns Hopkins or Medstar would agree to operate a facility on the city’s east side.

“Even if the District serves up a brand-new facility,” one Council member says, “the hospital company is not assured of making the financial side work.”

Turnage says he sees the problem and a way forward.

“No big hospital with the preponderance of patients under Medicaid and Medicare can survive financially,” he says, “and that’s the situation right now.

“But,” he predicts, “there’s potential for success if there’s gentrification.”

In other words, a hospital for poor people can work, once more white people move into the neighborhood. Perhaps. But it certainly doesn’t help D.C. residents who still rely on UMC -- and will for years go come.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Boyfriend of Journalist Killed on Live TV Wins House Seat]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 06:29:49 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_6519743333231.jpg

A former Virginia news anchor whose girlfriend was fatally shot during a live broadcast in 2015 has defeated a Republican incumbent for a seat in the House of Delegates. 

Chris Hurst beat Joseph Yost Tuesday in the high-profile race for the Blacksburg-area seat. 

Hurst was living with fellow journalist Alison Parker when she and a cameraman were killed by a former co-worker while reporting for WDBJ-TV. 

After the shooting, Hurst became the public face of the grieving Roanoke station, bringing national attention and a large social media following. The Pennsylvania native quit his TV job and moved to Blacksburg to run in the 12th District. 

Hurst's campaign was backed by gun-control groups, but that wasn't his main campaign issue. Instead, he focused on education, health care and the environment.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber, File]]>
<![CDATA[Election Day FAQ: ID, Selfies, Bringing Kids & More]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 06:27:39 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-587789666senate.jpg

This campaign season has been rough -- don't let your Election Day end up that way, too! Check out our guide to voting etiquette and rules to make sure your Tuesday is a breeze.

Virginia is one of only two states electing a new governor this year, but several towns in Maryland will head to the polls for local elections. 

Photo Identification

Virginia: If you're voting in Virginia, you must bring a photo ID with you to the polls! Bring a valid driver's license or identification card with you -- check out Virginia's Department of Elections for more forms of valid ID.

Maryland: First-time voters in Maryland will be asked to show ID before voting. Make sure to bring a valid photo ID or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement or government document that shows your name and address. It must be dated within three months of the election. 


Virginia: Under Virginia law, you can use electronic devices inside the polling place so as long as you're not a representative of either candidate or political party. However, if you're disrupting the voting process in any way with an electronic device, then an election officer may ask you to leave. Even if you are asked to leave because of your cell phone or video camera, you'll be able to cast your ballot before doing so.

Maryland: In Maryland, it's illegal to use phones, cameras or other electronics at a polling place or early voting center. Keep them in your bag or pocket.

Ballot Selfies

Virginia: Snap away if you want; ballot selfies are legal in Virginia. Nothing in Virginia law prohibits voters from taking pictures of themselves, fellow voters or their ballot within the polling place, Attorney General Mark Herring has said

Maryland: It's not a good idea to take a selfie with your ballot in Maryland at the polling place, since it's illegal to have electronic devices at the polling place. (The only exception to the rule is members of the media, but they are not allowed to take a photo of you casting your ballot.) Otherwise, save the "I voted!" selfies until after you leave the polling place. Photos of mailed ballots are OK, though. 

Clothing, Buttons or Stickers With Political Messages

VirginiaVirginia prohibits wearing campaign apparel within 40 feet of any entrance of a polling place.

Maryland: Maryland allows voters at their polling places to wear clothing, buttons or stickers with political messages written on them; however, they will need to leave immediately after casting their votes.

Campaigning For/Against a Candidate or Ballot Issue

Also called electioneering, this practice includes handing out fliers, holding signs and encouraging voters to support or oppose a candidate or ballot question. 

VirginiaElectioneering is prohibited within 40 feet of any entrance to a building which houses a polling place. No one is allowed to wear campaign apparel, hand out campaign literature or encourage election or defeat of any candidate or issue on the ballot.

Maryland: Any electioneering must stay outside of designated boundaries, which can be up to 100 feet from the polling place entrance used by most voters. There should be signs reading "No Electioneering Beyond this Point" to mark the border. 

Bringing Children

Some students may not be going to school on Election Day, which means that you might be bringing your kids with you to the polls if you can't find a babysitter -- or if you want to making the voting process a teaching moment. 

Virginia: In Virginia, you can bring a child age 15 or younger into the voting booth with you.

Maryland: In Maryland, you can bring one or two children under the age of 18 years old with you to vote. Under Maryland law, so as long as they're not disrupting the voting procedures, they're allowed with you.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Record Number of Va. Voters Cast Ballots Early]]> Sun, 05 Nov 2017 14:27:20 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/i+voted+generic.jpg

Over 41,000 Virginians have already cast ballots for the 2017 elections -- up about 61 percent from 2013’s early voting levels.

Voters are likely turning out in record numbers for this off-year race because it is widely seen as an early referendum on President Donald Trump’s performance.

Those people are casting ballots for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, school board members, state delegates and more.

Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are vying to win the Virginia governor's seat in an election marked by record-breaking last-minute donations.

News4 outlined a number of ways the outcome of the election could change day-to-day life for Virginians. Reproductive rights, student loans, education and criminal justice reform are all hot issues for Northam and Gillespie.

Many counties also have referendums on the ballot. A full list of the refurendums can be found here.

Enter your address at this site for a full run-down of where you can vote and what you’ll be voting on Nov. 7. 

In-person absentee voting ended Saturday, and mail-in ballots must be returned by Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Candidates for Governor Rally in Northern Virginia]]> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 22:48:00 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Candidates_for_Governor_Rally_in_Northern_Virginia.jpg

Get-out-the-vote rallies drew some big names ahead of Tuesday's election, and northern Virginia was the prime target Saturday for both candidates for governor. Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports one of them turned to Maryland's governor to help fire up supporters.

<![CDATA[Law School Students Offering Voter-Rights Hotline on Tuesday]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 04:30:54 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Cell+Phone+Generic.jpg

Students at William & Mary's law school will run a non-partisan hotline for Virginia voters on Election Day. 

The university in Williamsburg said in a statement Wednesday that it will specifically provide information on individuals' voting rights. 

The phones will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The number is 757-742-3095. 

The school said its goal is to prevent any confusion at the polls. 

The William & Mary Election Law Society has operated its VOTEline service since November 2007. It's only available on Election Day.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Governor Hopefuls Sprint to Get Out the Vote]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 17:09:20 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Virginia_Govornor_Hopefuls_Sprint_to_Get_Out_the_Vote.jpg

News4's Tom Sherwood reports on aspiring Virginia's Governors' final dash to election day on Nov. 7. Candidates are close in the polls -- so it's all about getting out the vote. The state is holding one of two Gubernatorial races in the U.S. this year.

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Carol Schwartz (No, She’s Not Running)]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 04:35:43 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/199*120/carol_schwartz-recrop1.jpg

Carol Schwartz has something to say.

And it takes her 745 pages to do it.

The former school board member, D.C. Council representative and five-time mayoral candidate is out with her new self-published book, “Quite a Life: From Defeat to Defeat ... and Back.”

She jokes that she initially intended to call it, “An Interesting Life — But Don’t Ask Me to Live It Again.”

But Schwartz does live it again in her book. And she says it’s the whole story. It’s self-published because she wanted total control over its content and “nobody was beating the door down” to publish it, she said.

Schwartz, 73, has a website (caroldc.com) to order her book or schedule a book party. She has begun a local book tour. She’s hitting all eight wards. But she’s not thinking of running again. She laughs and vigorously shakes her head “no” at even the suggestion.

The book is $30.

So what’s in it?

Well, among many other things, she says it puts to rest rumors that she and political villain-friend Marion Barry ever had sex.

“It wasn’t for his want of trying,” she laughed during a book stop Sunday at the Dupont Italian Kitchen. A friendly crowd ate pizza as she regaled her audience. “He tried with everybody,” Schwartz explained. “I would have been insulted if he hadn’t tried with me.”

There was knowing laughter about Barry. But the current outrage over sexual harassment in the workplace was not lost on Schwartz. She said she always felt like Barry’s equal as an elected official and was never intimidated. She agreed that too many women, including herself in younger years, faced and still face outrageous sexism and harassment.

The book also chronicles her early life in Midland, Texas, where Jewish families were few and her “abusive” father was “brutal.”

She recalls as early as age 4 her father “throwing a pot of hot soup across our small living room at my mother. It was so scary. But little did I know at four, it was just the beginning of many such experiences which made me frightened my whole life.”

About the mayoral races, she says she feels the media gave some mayors and candidates “free rides” while she was held to tough standards as a Republican in a Democratic city.

Much of the book, of course, is looking back. Some political opponents may disagree with her interpretations, but as Schwartz says, it’s her record. She writes that 1998 opponent Anthony Williams “feigned” the draft-Tony movement that got him started.

But for almost everyone who may be on the end of a critical remark, Schwartz also has something nice to say. That’s not true of former at-large Council member David Catania and her rocky time with him. “We were friendly, or so I thought,” she writes dismissively. Catania helped get her defeated in 2008.

The Notebook asked Schwartz if her political memoir — which also includes current issues — might get her in trouble, given her blunt assessment of people, politics and places.

Trouble because Schwartz is a sitting member of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, which “investigates alleged ethics laws violations by District government employees and public officials.”

As for her current role on the board, she told the Notebook, “Where I talk about local issues, it’s usually in the past tense. Where I speak of a few that are more present tense, that may be more debatable.” She says she didn’t tell the board or virtually anyone about her memoir because she wanted to get it done without distractions.

Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Schwartz to the ethics board after winning the 2014 race for mayor. Schwartz also ran that year. Many thought her campaign was an effort to sabotage — pay back — Catania, who was also running as an independent in the general election. Schwartz denies that allegation.

She acknowledges the book of personal and political ups and downs is long. “It could have been 1,500 pages,” she writes. “It’s not a tweet. It’s my life.”

■ The Confederacy, reconsidered. We jump over to Virginia for two new developments in the ongoing debate over Confederate memorials and memories.

Christ Church in Alexandria is 244 years old. Its leadership took a dramatic step this week.

George Washington was a founding member. Ever since 1870 — that’s 1870 — twin plaques on the altar wall have honored Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose family also worshiped there. The twin plaques were put up just two months after Lee died. They were not thrown up in the 1950s when Southerners began erecting all sorts of Confederate memorials in the wake of civil rights and school desegregation efforts.

The church vestry decided this week to remove both plaques and reposition them somewhere on church property where Lee’s full history can be put in context.

Why not just leave up Washington and take down Lee?

“We want to put them together, in places where we can tell the story of their religious history, the story of their connection with our parish,” said the Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, rector of Christ Church. She acknowledged some people would be angry but said the racial violence in Charlottesville in August had prompted the church’s move. The presence of Lee had long bothered many in the church, but just removing Lee would have disrupted the balance in the sanctuary.

“We are not removing George Washington from our community,” the rector told us. She said a large plaque about George Washington will remain at the church entry. Smaller plaques noting where the Washington and Lee families sat or kneeled also will remain.

Also in Virginia, Fairfax County this past week agreed to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School. It was named for the Confederate in 1959. It was seen as resistance to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision on desegregating schools.

Fairfax was a far different place then. Now, the name no longer was a source of pride or resistance. The new name? “Justice High School.”

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

Photo Credit: Andy Jones]]>