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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

D.C. Council members Mary M. Cheh and Tommy Wells have proposed a bill to ban corporate donations to city candidates and officials. It is a response to a "pay-to-play" culture that can influence policy decisions. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

D.C. legislation would ban corporate donations

Two D.C. Council members proposed legislation Tuesday that bans corporate donations to city candidates and officials, an aggressive proposal that comes four days after federal agents obtained records from one of the city's most prolific political contributors. Published March 6, 2012

Yvette Alexander (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)

Medical marijuana site issue weighed

D.C. Council members hope a medical marijuana site proposed in Ward 7 will not harm long-term development in the area. But they will not bar the proposed facility from opening if it jeopardizes the integrity of the city's tightly regulated — yet unfinished — program to aid the sick and dying. Published March 6, 2012

Council member Vincent B. Orange is one of the D.C. politicians who have reportedly received funds related to Jeffrey E. Thompson. (The Washington Times)

Raid on political donor shakes D.C. government

The full intent of a federal raid late Friday on an influential D.C. political donor's home and offices remains unclear, but by Monday the potential fallout of the incident reverberated through city hall, the campaign trail and a long-shot effort to recall the city's top elected officials. Published March 5, 2012

D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander hopes to relocate the only eligible medical-marijuana cultivation center to a site in her ward east of the Anacostia River. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Special to The Washington Times)

Ward 7 proposed for marijuana cultivation center

Seven weeks after the D.C. Council banned the excessive clustering of medical-marijuana facilities to assuage residents of Ward 5, a city lawmaker is hoping to relocate the only eligible cultivation center to a site east of the Anacostia River. Published March 5, 2012

**FILE** D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

D.C. set to relax gun laws, hesitantly

A bill that cuts training sessions and other impediments to registering a gun in the District is expected to pass, perhaps unanimously, when it goes before the entire D.C. Council in coming weeks. Published March 1, 2012

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.  (Drew Angerer / The Washington Times)

ACLU seeks limits on D.C. police tracking technology

The American Civil Liberties Union sounded the alarm on Wednesday over police officers' ability to use cellphone signals and license-plate-reading technology to track people inside the District. Published February 29, 2012

Political signs on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast are too big to be overlooked Tuesday by a pedestrian. Ward 5 D.C. Council candidates Shelly Gardner and Wilson Boston are among the 16 hopefuls running for the vacated seat of Harry Thomas Jr. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

No shortage of candidates to replace Thomas

Sixteen candidates are competing to replace former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., who pleaded guilty in January to stealing more than $350,000 from the District and left Ward 5 without direct representation in city hall. Published February 28, 2012

Harry Thomas, Jr., Ward 5 Councilmember, gestures during a legislative session at the John A. Wilson Building, in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, July 12, 2011. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

Graham wants to know how Thomas used trust to steal from city

Employees at a nonprofit organization that former council member Harry Thomas Jr. used as a conduit to steal from the city raised concerns about fast-tracked grants and the risk of becoming a "check-on-demand kind of place," according to testimony at a D.C. Council oversight hearing on Monday. Published February 27, 2012

A public-private trust at the center of former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr.'s theft scandal gave more than $100,000 to groups not registered as nonprofits and others not in city records. (The Washington Times)

'Substantial questions' await Thomas trust

A public-private nonprofit that played a pivotal role in former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr.'s theft of more than $350,000 from the city is expected to face tough questions from the council Monday. Published February 26, 2012

**FILE** D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

D.C. truancy report's absence raises ire

A D.C. Council member says the city's public school system violated the law by failing to submit an annual report on truancy, an urgent problem among city youth that has led to stricter monitoring and awareness campaigns across the District. Published February 23, 2012

The Washington Monument, seen through barricades on the Mall, remains closed since August's earthquake. Design for repairs should last into midspring, when bidding will begin. Work will be paid with $15 million in federal and private funding.

D.C. still years, millions away from fixing quake damage

Six months after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake stunned the nation's capital, the Washington Monument is still closed and awaiting $15 million in repairs, the D.C. government is looking for a federal reimbursement for its hodgepodge of damage and the Washington National Cathedral needs $18 million for major restoration efforts that could take up to five years. Published February 22, 2012

** FILE ** Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

McDonnell backs D.C. budget autonomy

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has thrown his support behind a proposal to allow the District to spend its local funds without tying the process to congressional budget bills, citing the risk of disruptions to services in the nation's capital in the event of a federal government shutdown. Published February 22, 2012

Marion Barry

D.C. Council tightens behavior rules after Marion Barry dustup

The D.C. Council passed a measure Tuesday that expands its self-imposed ban on profane or abusive language to any public meeting attended by members, a swift response to a blowup between two members at the council's retreat on Valentine's Day. Published February 21, 2012

**FILE** A woman walks through a line of cabs outside of Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

'Shared riding' in D.C. cabs set for Nationals Park

Baseball fans who would rather see pitcher Drew Storen close out a win for the Washington Nationals than beat the final-inning rush from the stadium will notice a major change to one of their postgame transit options this season. Published February 20, 2012

Capitol Police officer Angel Morales stands on guard Feb. 17, 2012, on the west side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, after a 29-year-old Moroccan man was arrested in an FBI sting operation near the Capitol while planning to detonate what police say he thought were live explosives. (Associated Press)

Terror suspect arrested near U.S. Capitol

A 29-year-old Moroccan man was arrested Friday on accusations he planned to detonate a suicide bomb in the U.S. Capitol before undercover agents thwarted him through a lengthy sting operation, the Department of Justice said. Published February 17, 2012

D.C Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

Education bills get mixed reviews from D.C. schools officials

A long line of witnesses testified Thursday in favor of legislation that requires D.C. high school students to take college entrance exams and apply to at least one college. Yet the city's charter school board feels the measure amounts to "overreaching" and the traditional public schools system could not offer unqualified support for the bill. Published February 16, 2012

Denny Jones (left) flanked by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (right) as he offers remarks regarding the settlement of the lengthy Dixon v. Gray case over the District's mental health system, in the John A. Wilson Building in the District on Thursday, February 16, 2012. (Rod Lamkey Jr/ The Washington Times)

Long-running D.C. mental health case settled

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Thursday the "historic" settlement of 37-year-old litigation brought by mental health patients who decried the District's lack of non-institutional treatment settings. Published February 16, 2012

D.C. bill would assess third-graders' readiness to advance

A D.C. Council committee is vetting a bill Thursday that ensures third-graders are ready for fourth grade, a reflection of efforts across the country to gauge academic progress in the early years of children's education. Published February 15, 2012