The Washington Times - March 28, 2011, 08:25AM

D.C. MAYOR VINCENT C. GRAY makes his State of the District address Monday night, a critical moment for the Democratic mayor in his effort to move public discourse from the problems of his young administration to what he will do to improve the city. However, achieving that goal will be made even more difficult Monday, considering that the D.C. Council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment will hold a morning hearing on allegations that Mr. Gray gave city jobs to politically connected friends and family members.

In addition, Mr. Gray’s speech at 6:45 p.m. at Eastern High School is less than an hour before President Obama makes a nationally televised speech about U.S. involvement in Libya.


VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY’S upset win Sunday over top-ranked Kansas in the NCAA basketball tournament sent crowds into the streets of Richmond and included some vandalism. “The wave of bodies steadily grew as people came out of nearby apartments and dorms to join in the victory procession. Some jumped up and down on cars — a group even attempted to flip a Nissan Sentra, but cooler heads prevailed — and some climbed light poles while others stood on rooftops. Some waved pompoms or flags in the air,” writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The paper reports about 950 students spilled from the campus into Broad Street.

VIRGINIA REDISTRICTING PLANS from House Republicans and Senate Democrats in the state’s General Assembly will be submitted Tuesday, The Washington Times reports. The respective plans redraw the lines of the state’s political districts, according to The Times.

Redistricting often is a source of partisan wrangling among state lawmakers trying to carve out districts most favorable to their party’s political chances, but in Virginia, leaders in each chamber said they intend to stay within that chamber’s jurisdiction. That means the Republican-controlled House will propose only House districts and the Democrat-controlled Senate, only Senate districts, legislators said.

GAS PRICES BRING MORE TO METRO during one of the transit agency’s busiest seasons. The millions expected to ride Metrorail during the National Cherry Blossom Festival or attend Washington Nationals home games will have to share space with another group this spring — commuters trying to escape high gas prices.

Peter Benjamin, chairman of Metro’s Finance and Administration Committee, said the agency expects “some increases in ridership” this spring as the result of the long-term effects of gas prices rising, but nothing “dramatic,” The Washington Times reports.

PUBLIC-EMPLOYEE UNIONS are anticipating a big win this year in Maryland, fighting back General Assembly efforts to make counties share nearly $1 billion in teacher pension costs with the state. House and Senate subcommittees in the Democrat-controlled Assembly have passed several reforms this session to rein in pension costs, according to The Washington Times. But leaders in both chambers have relented — at least for now — in their efforts to get counties to share the projected $928 million bill for teacher-pension benefits, which would have helped the state close a $200 million budget shortfall and sustain its increasingly underfunded pension system.