The Washington Times - April 7, 2011, 08:30AM

HEARINGS ON D.C. MAYOR VINCENT C. GRAY’S hiring practices resume Thursday. Mr. Gray, a Democrat, is facing allegations of nepotism and cronyism in hiring; specifically, that he gave high-paying jobs to campaign supporters as well as their family members.

The hearings are being conducted by the D.C. Council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment. Among those scheduled to appear today are former Gray Chief of Staff Gerri Mason Hall, Gray campaign manager Lorraine Green and Sulaimon Brown, a fired city employee who says the Gray campaign gave him cash and offered him a job when he was running in the 2010 mayoral race to bash incumbent Adrian M. Fenty.

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OVERNIGHT VIOLENCE IN WASHINGTON resulted in at least 9 victims dead or wounded. The shootings and stabbings occurred from roughly 9:15 p.m. to midnight Wednesday. Seven people were shot and two were stabbed in at least five incidents, D.C. police said. At least three people died, according to The Washington Post.

A D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER on Wednesday cried foul over a four-member city agency slated for a budget increase that would cover the salary of the daughter of a close confidante of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, The Washington Times reports.

Council member David A. Catania singled out the 22.4 percent increase in funding to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development during a hearing Wednesday on Mr. Gray’s proposed $9.6 billion 2012 spending plan. Mr. Catania, at-large independent, noted that the funding increase would offset the salary of Leslie Green — the daughter of Lorraine A. Green, who served as Mr. Gray’s campaign and transition team director.

A D.C. MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM approved by voters in 1998 is finally close to starting, reports WTOP.com. City leaders have drawn up rules covering the use of medical marijuana, and those rules are expected to take effect April 15. The District of Columbia will allow as many as 10 cultivation centers and five dispensaries. Permit applications should be available April 17, provided the federal government doesn’t shut down the program. If it does, then there could be a delay.

THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY has returned to Richmond this week to decide some remaining 2011 legislative issues, including votes on amendments proposed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican. Among the key issues decided Wednesday were banning from the state’s health-care exchange any insurance plans that cover abortion costs, according to The Washington Times.

Virginia legislators rejected the most controversial change to a bill requiring insurance companies to cover treatment for autism. They also raised Virginia’s medical malpractice cap, allowing it to increase by $50,000 annually until it reaches $3 million in 2032. And Virginia elementary and middle schools will not be required to provide 150 minutes of physical education every week. The legislature passed the bill to require the activity, which was vetoed by Mr. McDonnell. However, the state Senate failed to get enough votes Wednesday to override the veto.

VA GOV. BOB MCDONNELL’s office has confirmed that it is taking steps to block proposed rules that would compel private agencies to place foster children with unmarried couples, including gay couples, The Washington Times reports.

“This was language proposed by the Kaine administration. We are working with the agency to remove the language,” McDonnell spokeswoman Taylor Thornley said Wednesday. Mr. McDonnell told reporters Tuesday he supported Virginia’s current adoption policy, which welcomes single individuals and married couples as caregivers for children.

 

WASHINGTON DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT will get an underground Metrorail station, more expensive yet more convenient for travelers, following a vote Wednesday by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The underground station is $300 million more expensive than the above-ground option. Authority officials are still uncertain about the financing, according to The Washington Times.

THE MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY is in the stretch run of its legislative session and will consider several key bills Thursday, as just five days remain before the session ends, The Washington Times reports. The House agenda Thursday includes bills that would allow in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, change the parole process for criminals on life sentences, and establish a state-run venture-capital program.