The Washington Times - November 30, 2011, 08:39AM

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray campaigned on a promise to put an end to backroom dealings in city business and politics. But a looming dispute between the District of Columbia and Safeway regarding a covenant to keep other grocery stores out of a Ward 7 shopping center being developed by Wal-Mart raises the question of whether that is possible, in light of the mayor’s relationship with key players in a development that tops his list of priorities, reports Jeffrey Anderson of The Washington Times.

Cowboys fans need not apply. D.C. officials are paving the way for license plates that promote the Washington Redskins and eight other home teams, a quick-and-easy proposal intended to satisfy sports fans without sliding into a slew of offerings that have roiled political waters in various states, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Times.

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing to eliminate two state agencies and combine seven others as part of his 2012 government-reform agenda — an impressive-looking plan but one that will save the state about $4 million from an $80 billion biennial budget. Mr. McDonnell, a Republican who has made streamlining government a top priority during his 22 months in office, suggested eliminating 19 boards and commissions and consolidating 23 boards and commissions into 11. Three professions — hair braiders, mold inspectors and remediators, and interior designers — also would be deregulated under his proposal, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.

Maryland increased government spending this year more than any state in the mid-Atlantic region, according to a study released Tuesday.The Fiscal Survey of the States found that Maryland is slated to spend $14.7 billion in general funds during fiscal 2012, a $1.5 billion increase over the previous year. The 11.4 percent increase is the seventh-largest, compared with the other 49 states, according to the twice-annual study, which is sponsored by the National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers, reports David Hill of The Times.

Attorneys for the man who shot President Ronald Reagan will be asking a judge today to let him spend more time away from a Washington mental hospital with the goal of eventually allowing him to live outside the facility full-time. John Hinckley, who was found by a jury to be insane when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981, has for years been able to spend days at his mother’s home in Virginia.

The attorneys want Hinckley to be allowed additional visits of 17 and 24 days. The city’s St. Elizabeths Hospital also wants the ability to decide if Hinckley should live away from the facility full time, according to a court document, the Associated Press reports.

Iraq veteran Mark Grapin appear today before the Fairfax County zoning board in a final effort to save the treehouse he built for his two sons, according to AP.

Catholic University is allowed to segregate students’ living quarters into same-sex dormitories, according to a ruling handed down Tuesday. The D.C. Office of Human Rights said that same-sex dorms do not constitute discrimination or disparate treatment of either sex.The controversy over same-sex dorms erupted this summer when Catholic University President John Garvey announced plans to implement a same-sex policy for the school’s 17 dorms, saying he hoped to reduce incidents of binge drinking and casual sexual hookups, reports Andre Noble of The Times.

D.C. Council member Marion Barry has filed to run for a third consecutive term representing the poorest of the district’s wards. Mr. Barry, a 75-year-old Democrat who served four terms as mayor, filed his declaration of candidacy Tuesday. He said his top priorities are job training, placement and development. Mr. Barry has represented Ward 8 since 2005, when he returned to the council after six years away from politics. He faces several challengers in the April Democratic primary. In 1990, during his third term as mayor, Mr. Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting operation. He served six months in federal prison, AP reports.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is deflecting criticism of his trip to India. Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said Tuesday during a teleconference with reporters that the state could reap untold benefits from the six-day trip, on which he and more than 100 officials, educators and business leaders will meet with potential investors and trade partners. They arrived in India on Monday. The governor, who conducted the conference from Mumbai, said India’s growing economy and population of more than 1 billion provides the state and many Maryland businesses a “unique opportunity” to build partnerships and attract investments, The Times reports.