D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER HARRY THOMAS JR. has stepped down as chairman of the key Committee on Economic Development as he fights a $1 million lawsuit accusing him of siphoning public funds for personal use. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown announced Mr. Thomas‘ decision. The duties of Mr. Thomas, a two-term Ward 5 Democrat, will be assumed by the council’s Committee of the Whole — a committee made up of the full 13-member council that will allow each member, including Mr. Thomas, to have some input, according to The Washington Times.
D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER JIM GRAHAM was “tested” by the FBI, which offered him a series of bribes through constituents and a trusted aide as part of the public corruption probe that ensnared his chief of staff, The Washington Post reports. He tells the paper in an interview that “he was shocked” by an offer of $2,600 in cash presented to him by Ted Loza. “The attempted payment illustrates how investigators working a long-running, wide-ranging inquiry into the D.C. government’s ties to the taxi industry tested the longtime council member,” The Post says.
VIRGINIA LEGISLATORS WILL MEET TODAY IN RICHMOND to advance competing congressional redistricting maps that reflect partisan divides over how much influence to give black voters. At issue is whether the Democrat-led Senate will prevail in its efforts to turn Rep. J. Randy Forbes’ 4th Congressional District into a minority-majority district by reducing the number of blacks. The district is held by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, the only black member of Virginia’s 11-person delegation, The Washington Times reports. The shift would give black voters significant influence in two districts instead of just one.
METRO TRANSIT POLICE ARE CONFISCATING MORE GUNS from riders, finding more firearms in the past two years than in the previous 12 years combined, according to agency statistics, the Washington Examiner reports. Police recovered 65 weapons last year, including a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, a 9 mm Beretta, a Colt .38 semiautomatic handgun and rounds of ammunition. That marked a huge spike over the 21 firearms seized in 2009.
PATRICK MARA, A REPUBLICAN who recently lost in a special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, has jointed the group DC Vote. The city’s pre-eminent D.C. voting rights organization invited Mr. Mara to join its board of directors, making him the first Republican to serve in that capacity since the group was founded in 1998, according to the blog dcist. Mr. Mara, who represents Ward 1 on the D.C. State Board of Education, says he hopes to use his political affiliation to his advantage and plans to lobby Republican members of Congress on issues such as budget autonomy.
METRO WILL NOT EXTEND WAIT TIMES between trains on weekends to save money in its budget for next year, The Washington Post reports. The transit system had suggested that widening the gaps between trains on Saturdays and Sundays was a move that, along with other cuts and changes to bus service lines, would save $7 million a year. But the Metro board said that it will not support the change after riders speaking at public hearings opposed the additional wait times. The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia will bring subsidies to the table to cover the costs.
MARYLAND STATE SEN. C. ANTHONY MUSE, Prince George’s Democrat, wants to temporarily halt plans to build a collection of high-end outlet stores just outside the Beltway in Prince George’s County. He says that Indian Head Highway near National Harbor, where the stores will be built, will not be able to handle increased traffic, according to The Washington Post.