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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.

SEC joins scrutiny of D.C. CFO's office

Troubles mounted on disparate fronts for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi on Tuesday with fresh accusations of employee-driven fraud in his office's tax division and an "informal inquiry" from the Securities and Exchange Commission compounding the scrutiny the city's purse-minder has endured for weeks. Published October 23, 2012

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi

D.C. tax employee charged with stealing $300,000 from city

A city lawmaker and frequent critic of D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi is calling for a closer look at how the District evaluates people who are hired to work at the Office of Tax and Revenue amid allegations an employee bilked the city for $300,000 in fraudulent tax returns. Published October 23, 2012

Leonard Johnson, building manager for the Family Research Council who was shot on Aug. 15 when a gunman entered the lobby of the FRC building, was awarded a Medal of Honor by Mayor Vincent Gray on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The ceremony was closed to the media. Mr. Johnson was the first recipient of the Mayor's Medal of Honor and is credited with saving many lives. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

Gray awards medal to security guard shot by gunman

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Monday presented his first-ever Mayor's Medal of Honor to Leonard "Leo" Johnson, a security guard who was shot in the arm while thwarting a gunman who entered a conservative think tank near Gallery Place in August. Published October 22, 2012

** FILE ** D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times/File)

Enrollment fails to keep pace with D.C. voucher funds

A decision this year to add nearly $5 million in funding for federal vouchers that help low-income families in the District send their children to private schools is not guaranteed to result in higher enrollment under the program than last school year, according to preliminary data. Published October 22, 2012

Correction of King quote under way with talks

The National Park Service is actively engaged in discussions with the Chinese sculptor who crafted the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in its effort to amend a controversial quote at the monument by mid-January, officials said. Published October 21, 2012


D.C. takes over embattled political donor's company

The District has taken over a managed-care company owned by the man at the center of a federal probe into an alleged "shadow campaign" in 2010 that worked on behalf of now-mayor Vincent C. Gray, officials said Friday. Published October 20, 2012

D.C. sees modest drop in unemployment

Workforce data released Friday shows the District of Columbia continues to see a slow, but promising, decline in unemployment. Published October 19, 2012

Prosecutor alleges plan to avoid tuition at McKinley Tech

The District is suing a Maryland woman and a city resident who works at a D.C. public charter school for $31,294 on claims they conspired to let an out-of-District student attend McKinley Technology High School in the city without paying tuition, the D.C. Office of the Attorney General said Thursday. Published October 18, 2012

A marijuana leaf neon sign advertises a medical-pot provider in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. (Associated Press)

Feds put D.C. medical pot in a legal haze

While D.C. officials wait for six firms to grow medical marijuana in warehouses less than five miles from the White House, the role of cannabis in American life is taking center stage in political and legal bouts across the country. Published October 18, 2012

Legal opinion on D.C. budget referendum under wraps

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has made it clear he has misgivings over a D.C. Council-driven referendum to fast-track the city's effort to spend local funds as it pleases. But for now, a legal opinion that outlines those concerns is for official eyes only. Published October 17, 2012

Gray targets preference program for D.C. firms

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray vowed to hit the reset button on a long-standing program that was designed to provide advantages to companies based in the District but has been vulnerable to fraud. Published October 17, 2012

Natwar M. Gandhi

D.C. Council votes to require CFO to publish all audits

The D.C. Council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that requires the D.C. office of the chief financial officer to actively disclose its internal audits in the wake of scrutiny of the office's procedures and its ability to police itself. Published October 16, 2012

D.C. Council signals a turn on traffic-camera fines

City lawmakers on Tuesday answered a mounting chorus of motorists who say the District is burdening them with pricey traffic-camera fines in an attempt to balance the local budget under the banner of public safety. Published October 16, 2012

Jim Graham

Mendelson to talk to Graham before acting on Metro report

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Monday he owes fellow city lawmaker Jim Graham the "courtesy" of a sit-down meeting to discuss a recent report that claims Mr. Graham violated rules of conduct while representing the District on the Metro board in 2008. Published October 15, 2012

Activists for D.C.’s disabled see ‘red’ over parking meters plan

Advocates told a D.C. Council committee on Monday that legislation to reserve about 10 percent of the city's on-street parking spots for disabled motorists — yet require them to pay — appeared to be a revenue grab that overburdens a population with limited transit options. Published October 15, 2012

D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Norton walking tightrope on D.C. referendum

The District's non-voting member of Congress was put in a tough spot last week when all 12 members of the D.C. Council decided to support a springtime referendum that would allow voters to weigh in on budget autonomy, the long-sought ability to set the city's fiscal year and spend local funds without being tied to the spending-approval process on Capitol Hill. Published October 7, 2012

D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Norton in tough spot between budget autonomy bill and congressional cooperation

The District's non-voting member of Congress was put in a tough spot this week when all 12 members of the D.C. Council decided to support a springtime referendum that would allow voters to weigh in on budget autonomy, the long-sought ability to set the city's fiscal year and spend local funds without being tied to the spending approval process on Capitol Hill. Published October 5, 2012

D.C. Council incumbents Michael A. Brown (left), an independent, and Vincent B. Orange (second from left), a Democrat, attend a debate with challengers David Grosso, an independent, and Mary Brooks Beatty, a Republican, on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Debate for two D.C. Council seats maintains civil tone

Maybe it was the setting — a house of worship — but a quartet of candidates vying for two at-large seats on the D.C. Council eschewed the bitter rhetoric and personal attacks that have dominated the past few weeks for veiled swipes and even cordiality during a debate in Georgetown on Thursday. Published October 4, 2012