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July 25, 2014

Posts in "DC Mayor"

July 17, 2014

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

gun presser018 071714 440x292 Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Alfred Durham, prepare for a news conference in Rayburn on a House passed amendment by Rep. Thomas Massie’s, R-Ky., that would “block D.C. from enforcing its local gun laws, as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Services Appropriations bill,” July 17, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.

“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”

The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District. Full story

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

massie 056 050714 440x292 D.C. Could Become Nations Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

Massie is wading into the District’s gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of Congress’ most outspoken libertarians is the latest member to try to overturn the District of Columbia’s local gun laws. If successful, his proposal would make the District, home to cabinet officials, dignitaries from around the world and the president perhaps the most permissive gun jurisdiction in the country.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who in June rallied a bipartisan majority around an amendment to end warrantless collection of Americans’ online activities, attached language prohibiting D.C. from enforcing local firearm restrictions to the House bill funding the District.

“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down the D.C. handgun ban, as well as the unconstitutional gunlock provision, it is still difficult for D.C. residents to exercise their God-given right to bear arms,” Massie said Wednesday on the floor. “Congress has the authority to legislate in this area pursuant to article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever’ over the District of Columbia.”

In a move decried as an assault on Home Rule, Massie tried to wield that authority Tuesday night with a similar amendment, but the measure was ruled out of order due to a procedural flaw. To the outrage of Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, he tried again on Wednesday and the House adopted the gun rider 241-181, with the support of 20 Democrats. Full story

July 16, 2014

Pedro Ribeiro Leaves Gray for Obama, Will Be Replaced by Doxie McCoy (Updated)

DC budget 12 100913 440x312 Pedro Ribeiro Leaves Gray for Obama, Will Be Replaced by Doxie McCoy (Updated)

As Gray’s chief spokesman heads to the Obama administration, Norton’s former communications director takes his place. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:43 p.m. | As chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, Pedro Ribeiro tried to keep the focus on the scandal-plagued executive’s governing achievements amidst allegations of corruption against Gray from Justice Department prosecutors.

Now, approximately four months after “Uncle Earl“ reshaped the D.C. mayoral race and helped dash Gray’s hopes for a second term, Ribeiro will leave his side to join the Obama administration.

Ribeiro’s Aug. 8th departure for a senior post at the Department of Homeland Security was announced in a Tuesday email to members of Gray’s cabinet and quickly made the rounds in local media after a Tweet from WUSA 9′s Bruce Johnson. The announcement lauded Ribeiro, known for his sometimes tough, passionate defense of Gray.

“Pedro has been a trusted and valued advisor and counselor to the Mayor and his entire senior team as well as an effective spokesperson who managed to disagree with the press when he had to without being disagreeable,” Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy said in the email. “We are sorry to see him go.”

Ribeiro has been with the mayor for nearly three years. In an interview with the Washington City Paper, he said being combative was part of the job and said, ”There are instances where I have been a dick, and I know it.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Ribeiro said that it was “part in parcel” of his job to defend the Gray administration in instances where they clashed with the federal government.

During the October 2013 federal government shutdown, Gray sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget declaring all the city’s workers essential, in an effort to avoid putting the jobs of roughly 32,000 District workers at risk of furlough. He also demanded a meeting with President Barack Obama to talk about the harmful impact of the budget stalemate on the city.

Ribeiro pointed out that Capitol Hill veterans who go to work for the administration often have to deal with the same conflicts between their boss and the president and said that on the “vast majority of policies,” Gray was pleased with where the federal government was going.

The White House has lured other prominent Gray administration officials to its ranks. In February, Harriet Tregoning, then-director of the D.C. Office of Planning announced she would resign to go to work for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Several deputies have recently departed the lame-duck mayor’s administration.

Ribeiro is being replaced by his deputy, Capitol Hill alumna Doxie McCoy. The former spokeswoman for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., will be promoted to Gray’s communications director.

July 15, 2014

Mayoral Candidates Would Vary Approach to Hill on Home Rule

harris 011 080613 440x282 Mayoral Candidates Would Vary Approach to Hill on Home Rule

Harris says he knows best about marijuana policy in the District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A day after Rep. Andy Harris declared he was targeting with an appropriations rider a locally passed law that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia punishable by only a $25 ticket, Mayor Vincent Gray publicly denounced the congressman.

The Maryland Republican’s rider — strongly opposed by the White House — provokes questions about how the field of candidates vying to replace Gray in November would handle congressional infringements on home rule, which vary from face-to-face confrontations to economic boycotts, to Democratic nominee Muriel Bower’s plan to utilize a team of lobbyists. Full story

July 14, 2014

D.C. Council Overrides Gray’s Veto of Yoga Tax, but Beer Language Safe

HstreetYOGA 3 083106 224x330 D.C. Council Overrides Grays Veto of Yoga Tax, but Beer Language Safe

This yoga pose just got more expensive. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

The District’s fiscal 2015 spending plan will likely make D.C.-brewed beer more accessible, and working out a little more expensive.

Despite warnings from Mayor Vincent Gray about the ill effects of taxing gym memberships and altering funding for a 22-mile streetcar network, no members of the D.C. Council were swayed to change their vote on the city’s fiscal 2015 spending plan.

By a 12-1 margin, the council voted on Monday to override Gray’s veto of the $10.6-billion spending plan

While Gray declared his disappointment with the fiscal 2015 budget approved by the D.C. Council, brewery owners should be pretty happy. Tucked into the bill is a new law that establishes a permit for District breweries that will for the first time allow customers to purchase and drink the brewery’s beer while visiting the facility.

Under the Manufacturer Tasting Permit Emergency Amendment Act of 2014, a brewery can apply for the new $1,000 permit.

At the John A. Wilson building, debate focused on streetcars and tax packages, with no mention of the new beer provisions.

The lone “no” vote on the budget, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, said he feared the city was favoring income and business tax cuts over transit funding. He cited the city’s housing crisis and an “emerging transit crisis” and called the budget “shortsighted.”

Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser, who represents Ward 4, said she didn’t support the 5.75 percent tax on health club services but would not back Gray’s veto.

“At the end of the day, however, I recognize so many important things in this budget, including how we fund progressive and widespread tax breaks for residents and businesses in the District of Columbia,” she said. Councilmember David Catania, an independent who is running against Bowser for the mayoral seat, also voted to override Gray’s veto.

The lame duck mayor issued a statement saying he was disappointed that the council “did not see fit to work with me to craft a reasonable compromise that serves the best interest of District residents,” and reiterating the sentiment of his July 11 veto. Gray estimates the budget would delay the planned streetcar system until 2045.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Marion Barry alleged Gray’s priorities were out of whack and the District should be investing in shelters, apartments for the homeless and schools instead of the new rail network.

Barry said he thinks the project has no cost benefit and slammed the track work that has been completed on H Street Northeast. ”I’m going to continue to fight against another penny being spent on the streetcar,” he added.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:02 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

July 11, 2014

Gray Vetoes D.C. Budget, Cites Yoga Tax, Streetcar Funding

gray 221 052912 440x292 Gray Vetoes D.C. Budget, Cites Yoga Tax, Streetcar Funding

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lame duck D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced Friday that he plans to veto the D.C. Council’s fiscal 2015 budget, a move that could rekindle protests against the so-called yoga tax.

Gray cited the 5.75 percent tax on health club services as one of his main beefs with the measure that cleared the council on a 12-1 vote in late June, and asked lawmakers to delay their summer recess for 30 days to work with his administration on a compromise.

“I cannot, in good conscience, sign a budget that hurts seniors, taxes wellness, dramatically delays and drives up the cost of the D.C. Streetcar system, and ties the hands of future Mayors to respond to fiscal problems,” Gray said in his Friday statement, released along with a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

One of Gray’s greatest concerns is the long-delayed D.C. Streetcar project, which he said would be delayed until 2045 under the current proposal. He also says it would increase the cost of the program by 50 percent.

Because the council only needs nine votes to override a mayoral veto, the mayor’s objections might be moot. An amendment that would have killed the tax on wellness services was defeated by a 9-4 vote.

Still, Gray maintains he could not in good conscience go along with the council’s proposal.

“Although I will not be in office when the majority of this budget is implemented, I cannot turn a blind eye to the impact that it will have on the next administration and District residents,” he said.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:17 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

June 27, 2014

David Catania Storms Office of Andy Harris to Talk D.C. Pot Decriminalization

catania 030 060714 440x311 David Catania Storms Office of Andy Harris to Talk D.C. Pot Decriminalization

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tensions ran a little high in Rep. Andy Harris’ office on Friday morning when D.C. Councilmember and mayoral hopeful David Catania showed up demanding to talk about the Maryland Republican’s attempt to halt the District’s marijuana decriminalization legislation.

Like most members of Congress, Harris was absent from Capitol Hill — back home in his district, according to deputy chief of staff Chris Meekins. Harris’ scheduler and chief of staff were also absent when Catania came calling shortly after 8:30 a.m., Meekins said.

“I’m here to address what has become a congressional pastime, which is interfering in the local affairs of the District of Columbia,” said Catania, who is campaigning as an independent for the November election. Full story

May 29, 2014

Were D.C. Voters ‘Duped’ by Attorney General Referendum?

A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals asked Thursday whether D.C. voters had been duped by a 2010 ballot referendum on changing the city’s attorney general job from a mayoral appointment to an elected position.

The referendum, approved by more than 90,000 D.C. voters, said: “If voters approve of this amendment and the U.S. Congress does not reject the measure, the residents of the District of Columbia would begin voting for the Attorney General in 2014.”

But the office did not appear on February’s primary ballot, due to a D.C. Council vote that delayed the election until 2018. Unless the court overrules the council, the election will be excluded from the November ballot as well. Full story

May 28, 2014

Westboro Baptist Church’s Plan to Protest D.C. High School Sparks Counterprotest

God Hates Fags 1 100610 440x321 Westboro Baptist Churchs Plan to Protest D.C. High School Sparks Counterprotest

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A local high school’s effort to support its gay students has drawn the ire of the Westboro Baptist Church, provoking the divisive, Kansas-based group to plan a protest next month in the District.

On Wednesday, mayoral candidate David Catania, an openly gay member of the D.C. Council, called on residents of the city to stand with students at Woodrow Wilson High School “in support of tolerance and respect.”

The Northwest D.C. school will host a Pride Day on June 4, welcoming more than 20 organizations with support and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students into its atrium for a midday event.

Five days later, the WBC is planning an anti-gay protest on the sidewalk outside the school, attempting to catch the attention of students as they arrive for morning classes.

“This generation cannot find wisdom at any of their institutions of elementary, secondary or post-secondary education,” organizers declared in a release posted to Westboro’s website on Sunday. The group is targeting Wilson for providing resources to gay students.

Last year, Wilson made history as the first public school in D.C. to have a pride celebration.

Catania spoke with the principal, faculty and students behind the second annual event and thanked them for their work. Some have announced plans to organize a peaceful counterprotest.

“As I told the students, they are reaffirming the District’s legacy of inclusiveness and respect,” he said in a release.

“This is the city where Mildred and Richard Loving sought refuge and the freedom to love the person of their choice when the state of Virginia barred them from marrying because of the difference in the color of their skin,” he continued, referring to the landmark civil rights decision that invalidated laws barring interracial marriage. “More recently, it is the same city that was at the forefront of the fight for Marriage Equality.”

Catania, a Republican-turned-independent who spent much of his childhood in Kansas, is urging D.C. residents to back the students against the protesters.

May 27, 2014

D.C. United Stadium Deal Could Be Hard Sell For D.C. Council

RFK 1 061313 440x293 D.C. United Stadium Deal Could Be Hard Sell For D.C. Council

Is D.C. United shedding Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium for Buzzard Point? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Soccer fans in the District finally have details on the long-awaited plan to make a new stadium for D.C. United a reality, although D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has signaled some initial skepticism and other concerns could derail the deal. Full story

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