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December 21, 2014

Posts in "DC Mayor"

December 8, 2014

As D.C. Bids Farewell, a Look Back at Marion Barry’s Battles With Congress

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Barry is interviewed about his book at an event in D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., was likely the most surprising name in the program at Marion Barry’s funeral service on Dec. 6, considering the former District of Columbia mayor’s tumultuous relationship with Capitol Hill.

“We will all remember him with affection, with respect, and with an amazing sense that here was an American who made a real difference in our national capital,” Gingrich said in a video tribute. Though Gingrich spoke kindly of Barry, the former mayor’s relationship with Gingrich’s Republican caucus was contentious, reaching a boiling point in the late 1990s, and contributing to Barry’s decision not to run for a fifth term as mayor in 1998. Full story

Bowser Joins Mayors in NYC to Develop Immigration Strategy

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Immigration activists gathered in front of the White House listen to the president’s speech on his executive action. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two days after House Republicans took a largely symbolic vote condemning the president’s executive immigration action,  District of Columbia Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser joined mayors from around the country in New York City to discuss strategies for implementing the order.

“Mayors across the country recognize the important contributions immigrants have made in our nation’s history – and that they continue to make in our cities every day,” Bowser said in a statement Monday. “We applaud the Obama Administration for looking to address immigration reform in a responsible and respectful way. These new policies will ensure that thousands of undocumented immigrants in the District of Columbia are given a fair shot at the American Dream.” Full story

November 26, 2014

Marion Barry to Be Memorialized With Citywide Procession, Public Viewing

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(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia plans to bid farewell to its “mayor for life” over the course of three days, with a procession through all eight wards of the city and a massive celebration at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Tens of thousands are expected to attend the Dec. 6 viewing and memorial service for Marion Barry, the former four-term mayor and Ward 8 councilmember who died Sunday at age 78. President Barack Obama’s name may even appear on the guest list, organizers suggested Wednesday.

Mayor Vincent Gray declared Barry the most iconic figure in the history of the District of Columbia, then quipped, “and remember, that includes the federal government also.” He recalled Barry’s pride in 2008, when he saw Obama receive the Democratic nomination in Denver. ”He saw everything that he had stood for, and everything he had tried to do embodied in this African-American man being nominated to be the president of the United States,” Gray said.

Barry will lie in repose in the John A. Wilson Building for 24 hours, beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4. The last person bestowed with that honor was Barry’s ex-wife, Effi Barry, in 2007. A brief service will honor his contributions as an important civic leader in the decades after Home Rule, who served 16 years as mayor and 16 years on the D.C. Council.

“His passing is hard on the institution,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Wednesday.  District employees will be allowed up to two hours of administrative leave on Thursday to visit the closed casket.

Barry’s body will be transported through the city on Dec. 5, along a route yet to be determined, to one of the churches he regularly attended. The Temple of Praise on Southern Avenue Southeast will host a musical and video tribute from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by a community memorial service from 6 to 9 p.m.

The convention center viewing begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 6, with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. A private burial will follow.

Related:

Marion Barry, 4-Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:27 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

November 25, 2014

D.C. Statehood Activists Looking Toward GOP Congress

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Activists say local controversies, such as the case against Gray, can’t thwart cause. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If anyone understands what a “grungy game” politics can be, it’s Capitol Hill staffers.

That’s what Johnny Barnes, an attorney who spent 25 years working for members of the House, theorized when the front page of The Washington Post reported that federal prosecutors might be moving closer to indicting Mayor Vincent Gray. Barnes huddled on Nov. 18 with about a dozen D.C. residents in the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building, preparing to pitch staffers on why the District deserves to be the 51st state.

“These folks,” Barnes said, “are less sensitive or less focused on that kind of thing, because they know what politics is about.” He chuckled during the interview, recalling his interactions with the late Ohio Democrat James Traficant, who was booted from the House for corruption. “It’s a grungy game, and they know that.” Full story

November 23, 2014

Marion Barry, 4-Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

barry 001 112314 440x292 Marion Barry, 4 Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

A “Thank You” card to Marion Barry sits on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building, DC’s City Hall, on Nov. 23. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former D.C. Mayor and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry died Sunday at the age of 78.

Barry’s family did not indicate the cause of his death in a statement released Sunday morning, but said Barry passed away at United Medical Center early Sunday after having previously been hospitalized at Howard University Hospital on Saturday.

“Marion was not just a colleague but also was a friend with whom I shared many fond moments about governing the city,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray said in a statement. “He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him.” Full story

November 7, 2014

Not Everyone Loves the New Columbia Statehood Commission

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D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown, right, fears his office is being “nickeled and dimed.” (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown fears legislation packaged as an effort to streamline the statehood movement will effectively turn the District of Columbia’s two shadow senators and shadow representative into “employees” of the D.C. government, instead of elected officials.

For the past eight years, Brown has effectively served as a pro bono statehood lobbyist with no voting power in Congress. In that time, he believes the debate has shifted from whether the District becomes the 51st state to when. Brown is proud of the progress a New Columbia statehood bill with a record number of sponsors has made in Congress, and warns “interfering with the movement is not going to help it.”

Leaders in the executive and legislative branches of the District government say they are trying to bring coherence and new resources to the unpaid statehood delegation. The trio currently works out of a small office in the basement of the John A. Wilson building, with no salary, and no formal coordination with Mayor Vincent Gray or the 13 members of the D.C. Council. Full story

November 6, 2014

Norton and Bowser Optimistic About GOP Congress

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Norton and Bowser discuss D.C.-Hill relations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser traveled to Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon to meet with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and discuss how they will coordinate with each other and lawmakers in the new Republican-controlled Congress.

After the meeting, Bowser and Norton spoke briefly with reporters, and were optimistic about accomplishing District of Columbia priorities despite challenges with a wider GOP majority in the House and a Republican Senate.

“Knowing that there will be more Republicans here tells you nothing,” Norton told a group of reporters in her Rayburn office. “I got more done when Newt Gingrich was here than I think I’ve gotten under perhaps almost any speaker here. So you just can’t tell. And the way we’ve gotten it done is by working very closely with the mayor.”

Norton said their first priority would be passing a D.C. appropriations bill. The current continuing resolution funding the government expires Dec. 11.

The congresswoman said she was optimistic a clean appropriations bill, free of any policy riders, would pass, despite opposition to the recent legalization of marijuana in the District. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., has said he will work to halt legalization.

“I’ve already gotten decriminalization through,” said Norton. “We still have the same makeup that we had at that time, so I would say prospects are good.”

Over the summer, the District decriminalized marijuana, making possession a civil offense subject to a fine. Harris had also attempted to block decriminalization by attaching an amendment to the appropriations bill, but the spending bill ultimately passed without his amendment.

Norton and Bowser both stressed that close collaboration between their offices will be key to advocating for the District on Capitol Hill. Their meeting Thursday was Norton’s idea and Bowser said she hoped to gain a better understanding of D.C.-Hill relations with the new Congress.

“I also wanted [Norton] to give me her analsysis of how the District is going to work with the new Congress,” said Bowser. “And how those committees may lay out and make sure that we’re working hand in hand to establish those relationships.”

Norton and Bowser clasped each others’ hands at one point, showing that they are a united front.

“I want you guys to get used to two women being in charge now,” said Norton.

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November 5, 2014

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan Resigns

The District of Columbia’s Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, tendered his resignation Wednesday, effective Nov. 17. Nathan’s resignation comes the day after D.C. voters elected attorney Karl A. Racine to succeed him.

“As this administration winds down in the six weeks after my departure, it is time for me to move on, to focus on some long neglected personal issues, and to formulate professional plans for the future,” Nathan wrote in his letter to Mayor Vincent Gray.

Gray said in a statement Wednesday that Chief Deputy Attorney General Eugene Adams will be named interim attorney general upon Nathan’s departure.

In his resignation letter, Nathan assured Gray he would help Racine transition to the office. Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, will be sworn in in January.

“I pledge that we will make available to the full resources of our office to make a smooth transition to an elected Attorney General,” wrote Nathan, “so that the excellent team we have assembled can function for the benefit of our citizens for years to come.”

When Racine takes over the office, he will be thrust into an ongoing legal battle over the District’s attempt to achieve budget autonomy through an act passed by a voter referendum. The council, along with Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, support the Budget Autonomy Act, but Racine agreed with Nathan’s decision not to comply with the legislation. So, the District may have to turn to Congress to receive authority over its budget.

Related:

D.C. Faces Statehood, Marijuana Challenges With Republican Congress

Rand Paul: Let D.C. Legalize Marijuana, If Voters Want

Could Nov. 4 Render D.C. Budget Autonomy Fight Moot?

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

D.C. Faces Statehood, Marijuana Challenges With Republican Congress

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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with Norton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican wave didn’t crash in the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t mean the victors won’t have to contend with the GOP Congress.

As local Democrat Muriel Bowser celebrated a double-digit victory in the mayoral contest over independent challenger David Catania, she also took time to speak with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., about the makeup of the House and Senate.

Bowser has promised statehood and legislative autonomy would both be priorities when working with Capitol Hill, and told CQ Roll Call she supported the D.C. Council’s attempt to force Mayor Vincent Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt to comply with the local Budget Autonomy Act via the court system.

“Well I supported the council’s action in that,” Bowser said Tuesday. “I would expect that to be my policy as well.”

That might put her at odds with the newly elected top lawyer in the District, though. Voters chose veteran attorney Karl A. Racine to serve as the city’s first elected attorney general, who said the lawsuit is “not a winning case” during an Oct. 23 debate. The former associate White House counsel under President Bill Clinton defeated Paul Zukerberg, the attorney who appealed to the courts to get the race on the ballot, and three other candidates who also ran as Democrats. Full story

October 28, 2014

DC Council Looks to Streamline Statehood Efforts

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Mendelson and Gray both support new statehood efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the four decades since Home Rule, elected officials in the District of Columbia have created four different commissions aimed at making the city the 51st state. Looking at the current condition of those panels, it might be obvious why the flag only has 50 stars.

Each one has no members, according to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. None one of the four have been functioning for years, “if ever,” he said Monday at a briefing previewing the council’s Tuesday legislative agenda.

Included on that agenda is a complicated piece of legislation designed to streamline more than 200 mayor-appointed boards and commissions in D.C. would consolidate and bolster the statehood effort. Introduced in January 2013 as the “Boards and Commissions Reform Act,” the council recently revamped the bill by adding “New Columbia Statehood Initiative” to the title and injecting more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars into the fight.

The bill, expected to get a final vote Tuesday, would eliminate 31 panels deemed inactive or unnecessary, including the Statehood Commission, the Statehood Compact Commission, District of Columbia Statehood Delegation Fund Commission, and the 51st State Commission. It would establish two new independent agencies: the Office of Statehood Delegation, and the New Columbia Statehood Commission. Full story

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