- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2011

Lawmakers are in Virginia are discussing redistricting, the Daily Press reports. “Based on population shifts and driven by 2010 census figures, the once-a-decade redistricting process has again become a venue where powerbrokers punish partisan opponents and attempt to protect political allies. The maps for the 100 districts in the House of Delegates and 40 districts in the state Senate passed both chambers late last week, but House members must approve minor changes to their own maps. They must also approve the maps drawn by Senate Democrats, who approved their maps Thursday on a straight party line vote – sending plans for new political boundaries over to the House on a 22 to 18 margin.”

Novelist Patricia Cornwell is entangled in a real-life federal investigation into the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, The Washington Times reported. A memo filed in federal court in the District reveals that Ms. Cornwell’s former wealth manager and his wife “gave more than $9,000 to Mr. Gilmore’s presidential and Senate campaigns, but later reimbursed the money from an account belonging to Ms. Cornwell. Federal campaign law makes it illegal for a person to reimburse someone else for campaign donations. Snapper’s memo said Ms. Cornwell wasn’t comfortable donating money to him directly because of philosophical differences on gay marriage. In 2007, Ms. Cornwell disclosed her marriage to a woman named Staci Ann Gruber, the memo said.” Ms. Cornwell and the wealth manager are involved in an ongoing legal dispute.

Ongoing concerns over the reliability of breathalyzer tests in the District has prompted Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier to order officers to take urine samples from suspected drunk drivers, The Washington Post reports. That is a more cumbersome and expensive way to handle the 120 tests a month the District runs. Drunken-driving arrests for the first quarter of 2011 were down by about 40 percent from the same period last year, according to the police union “D.C. officials spent more than $90,000 last year on equipment for a quick fix after the scandal. But the machines are idle because the city cannot decide who should run a new drunken-driving program. Without proper oversight, neither the police department nor the attorney general’s office has confidence in the reliability of breath tests.”

The District’s upcoming special election for the at-large council seat vacated by council Chairman Kwame Brown is previewed by The Washington Post. The Post says “unlike the mayor’s race, in which Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) had an overwhelming advantage in majority-black neighborhoods while former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) dominated other areas of the city, the nine candidates vying for the at-large seat are struggling to line up solid bases of support, political observers say.”

The winners and losers of the 2011 Maryland General Assembly session are outlined in the Baltimore Sun. “Lawmakers largely avoided new taxes, though they had no problem imposing millions of dollars in new fees. They tightened up a prohibition on texting while driving, but shied away from letting officers pull over drivers who are chatting away on their handheld cell phones. And while legislators decried the use of bisphenol A in plastic materials, they decided they needed more time to explore the harm caused by trace amounts of arsenic in chickens.”

The Metropolitan Police Department reported a fatal shooting early Sunday morning — the sixth D.C. homicide in five days.

Construction to update the aging eight lanes of Constitution Avenue began Monday morning. According to the National Park Service, the road between 15th and 23rd streets will be repaired one block at a time and the project is slated to finish by early 2012. Rehabilitation includes new pavement, lights and crosswalks. The project price tag is $10.2 million.

The former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of murdering a fellow student-athlete will appear in court Monday afternoon for a hearing as part of the ongoing murder trial that began a year ago. George Huguely of Chevy Chase was arrested May 3, 2010 in connection with the murder of Yeardley Love of Cockeysville, Md. According to earlier reports from police, Ms. Love was found dead in her apartment from blunt-force trauma to her head.