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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.

Journalists wait outside the Supreme Court for a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Supreme Court health care ruling draws mixed reaction locally

The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on Thursday to uphold President Obama's health care mandate as a tax prompted Democratic leaders in the District and Maryland, as early adopters of Mr. Obama's vision, to rejoice while Virginia's Republican governor denounced it as "a blow to freedom." Published June 28, 2012

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli waits his turn to talk  about the Supreme Court decision on the Health Care law during a press conference Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Richmond, Va. Cuccinelli said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding President Barack Obama's health care overhaul makes this "a dark day for American liberty."  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Cuccinelli finds solace in aspects of ruling; Maryland, D.C. officials cheer

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Thursday upholding health care reform was a loss on policy but a victory for the Constitution, while across the Potomac in Maryland leaders said the ruling affirmed their decision to act quickly to implement the controversial law. Published June 28, 2012

Joe Lieberman

Lieberman defends D.C. on city affairs

Sen. Joe Lieberman on Wednesday publicly defended the District's right to govern its local affairs, noting "no one in Congress would dare to impose laws on any of the states." Published June 27, 2012

Pedestrians, veterans and members of the media walk around the grounds of the newly renovated District of Columbia WWI Memorial after a rededication ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 10, 2011.
(T.J. Kirkpatrick/ The Washington Times)

Congressman abandons plan to 'nationalize' D.C. WWI memorial

A Texas congressman is no longer pursuing a plan to nationalize the District's World War I memorial, a contentious proposal that had prompted D.C. officials to focus on downtown's Pershing Park as a "fitting alternative" to the local monument's prized site on the National Mall. Published June 26, 2012

Councilmember Muriel Bowser, chair of the committee on government operations, listens to testimony during a public roundtable Monday, June 25, 2012 at the Wilson Building in Washington, D.C. on the nominees for the Board of Ethics and Accountability. The three nominees -- Robert Spagnoletti, Deborah Lanthen and Laura Richards -- all testified. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

Conflicts will be few, says D.C. ethics panel pick

Former D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti told a D.C. Council committee on Monday he can be an effective member of the newly created ethics board - despite what his critics may say - and that his ties to city government are unlikely to force his recusal from many cases. Published June 25, 2012

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan tells a D.C. Council committee that restoring "the public trust in our electoral system" a priority. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Council hears Gray's outline in reforming campaign finances

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray will send a package of campaign finance reforms to the D.C. Council by mid-July that answers mounting calls to eliminate pay-to-play politics without resorting to sweeping bans that the nation's highest court has deemed unconstitutional, the city's top legal officer said Monday. Published June 25, 2012

** FILE ** D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

Investigation finds cheating at D.C. schools

Standardized test scores from three D.C. classrooms were invalidated because teachers helped students choose the right answers or flouted security protocols in April 2011. Published June 22, 2012

**FILE** Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals, fields questions during an editorial board meeting in Washington on March 18, 2011. (The Washington Times)

Leonsis: Flat screens on arena mean cash

Ted Leonsis told a D.C. Council committee on Wednesday that his controversial plan to put high-definition flat screens outside the Verizon Center could help teams inside the downtown arena lift the Stanley Cup or don championship rings one day. Published June 20, 2012

Michael A. Brown

At-large races for D.C Council draw a crowd of non-Democrats

The field of candidates for the pair of at-large seats on the D.C. Council is taking shape, an uphill battle against incumbents Michael A. Brown, an independent, and Vincent B. Orange, who earned the Democrats' nomination in April. Published June 19, 2012

Michael Kelly is Mayor Vincent C. Gray's pick to lead the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development despite some controversy in his previous job in Philadelphia. (Associated Press)

Gray administration hired new DHCD head despite scandal

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray's pick to lead the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development had an affair with a subordinate at his last job in Philadelphia but was hired anyway after an investigation debunked claims that he offered her preferential treatment, officials said. Published June 19, 2012

**FILE** House Speaker John A. Boehner, who attended Catholic schools, has made resurrecting the federally funded D.C. school-voucher program a legislative priority. (Associated Press)

White House relents on D.C. school voucher bill

The Obama administration reversed course Monday and agreed to fully implement a controversial school voucher program that provides federal tuition assistance to a limited number of D.C. youths despite historically mixed opinion of the program among city leaders and the White House's own efforts to eliminate it. Published June 18, 2012

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi

Gandhi formally reappointed D.C. CFO

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray formally transmitted his reappointment of the city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, to the D.C. Council on Friday, a move that had been widely anticipated, but is already facing criticism from some city lawmakers. Published June 15, 2012

** FILE ** Natwar M. Gandhi (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Gandhi to be appointed for 5 more years as D.C. CFO

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is poised to appoint the city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, to another five-year term as soon as Friday, according to multiple city hall sources familiar with the situation. Published June 14, 2012

Interim D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson makes his way to his new office in the John A. Wilson Building in Washington after being elected on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, to temporarily fill the seat vacated by former council Chairman Kwame R. Brown. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Mendelson becomes interim D.C. Council chair

The D.C. Council chose veteran lawmaker Phil Mendelson on Wednesday to lead it as chairman until a Nov. 6 election to replace Kwame R. Brown in the wake of his resignation and guilty plea to fraud and campaign-finance charges. Published June 13, 2012

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (The Washington Times)

D.C. Council poised to approve Mendelson as chairman

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh circulated a resolution on Tuesday that would make veteran city lawmaker Phil Mendelson the acting council chairman until city voters select a replacement this November for Kwame R. Brown, who abruptly resigned as chairman last week and admitted fraud and campaign finances charges. Published June 12, 2012

**FILE** In 1998, voters in the District approved the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative. (The Washington Times)

D.C. health department picks medical marijuana dispensaries

The D.C. Department of Health on Tuesday notified four applicants to the city's burgeoning medical marijuana program they are eligible to open a dispensary at their desired locations, one of the final steps necessary to begin the District's long-awaited effort to aid the sick and dying. Published June 12, 2012