- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Occupy D.C. protesters are one warning away from a National Park Service crackdown, officials said during Tuesday’s House oversight committee meeting on the decision-making process behind the handling of the encampment at McPherson Square. Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis told a packed room of congressional and D.C. leaders, as well as a dozen Occupy members, that the agency is “planning very soon to begin the enforcement of camping regulations.” The protesters will likely be allowed to stay but not sleep overnight, and citations will be issued to those who do, reports Meredith Somers of The Washington Times.

A Republican-controlled Virginia House committee Tuesday passed bills that would subject recipients of state welfare benefits to drug testing and repeal a mandate that girls receive vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV.) The two measures, priorities of the state’s conservative caucus for the 2012 legislative session, cleared the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee on 14-8 votes over the objections of Democrats, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.

As D.C. fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe touted the department’s accomplishments Tuesday during his first year as leader, firefighters and emergency medical services workers had a message for him: They want better leadership. Roughly 100 firefighters stood in unison, turned their backs, then chanted “DCFD” as they walked out of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Northwest as the chief finished his State of the Department address and opened the floor to questions, reports Andrea Noble of The Times.

A Virginia circuit court judge refused Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed over congressional redistricting and shot down a key argument the state and the GOP have used to defend a map recently passed by the legislature. The lawsuit, brought by six Virginia residents, claims that the General Assembly failed in its constitutional obligations by not reapportioning the state’s 11 congressional districts in 2011, the year after the decennial census, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.


A federal law that essentially bans more construction on the National Mall might prevent an attempt to “nationalize” the District of Columbia World War I Memorial, a National Park Service official said Tuesday, according to The Times.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s renewed fight to legalize same-sex marriage will depend heavily on assuring religious groups that his proposed legislation won’t infringe on their beliefs or opposition to the weddings. Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, appears to be aiming his message most prominently at black Democrats, who oppose gay marriage in greater numbers than other Democrats and often cite religious beliefs as the reason. He plans to show opponents that allowing gays to marry would afford gay couples a fundamental right but would not require religious institutions that disagree to perform or recognize the ceremonies, reports David Hill of The Times.

A game of political chicken between Senate Democrats and Republicans in Virginia threatened to bring the state General Assembly to a standstill Tuesday, foreshadowing future gridlock when the discussion shifts to funding roads and education. The finger pointing began when Senate Republicans pushed for a vote on legislation to elect 49 local judges, a traditionally routine procedure that met little resistance in the committee phase. But Democrats insisted they were not prepared to approve two new judges and asked to instead just OK the 47 incumbents, according to the Washington Examiner.

Metro says three workers have been disciplined after an incident in which an extra-long 10-car train rode through the transit system. Station platforms cannot accommodate more than eight cars. Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman, says the train left the Shady Grove yard on the afternoon of Dec. 2 and serviced stations on the red line. He says no passengers were in the rear two cars and no injuries were reported. Mr. Stessel says the three employees disciplined were a terminal supervisor, a train operator and an interlocking operator, who allows train out of the rail yard, according to the Associated Press.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has shut down a cab company for numerous violations. Commission Chairman Ron Linton said the Anacostia Cab Association has been told to cease and desist operations. Mr. Linton says the company could not prove that it had paid taxes, that it was a registered company and that it had a proper place of business. The company’s owner says he has done everything the commission has asked him to do and plans to fight the shutdown order, according to the Associated Press.