The Washington Times - November 17, 2011, 08:14AM

Demonstrators from Occupy D.C. plan Thursday afternoon to march from McPherson Square to the Key Bridge. Although demonstrators say they do not plan to block traffic, which flows to and from Virginia, city officials are getting ready and warning motorists and others.

“We plan to keep traffic moving and keep people safe,” Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump tells The Washington Times.


In addition, the city’s transportation department is urging motorists to avoid the areas or otherwise take “extreme caution.” The demonstration is expected to start at 2:30 p.m. and continue through the evening rush-hour. Similar Occupy marches are also planned in other U.S. cities.

The man suspected of firing a gun near the White House was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Pennsylvania, concluding a five-day manhunt, authorities said. Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was captured at about 12:35 p.m. at a Hampton Inn hotel near Indiana, Pa. after a hotel clerk alerted authorities, Lt. Brad Shields of the Pennsylvania State Police said, The Times reports.

Some of the country’s most powerful unions are providing the infrastructure and amenities to keep the Occupy D.C. encampment fortified going into the winter. The camp’s portable toilets are being provided by the Service Employees International Union, the 2.1-million-member organization that helped Barack Obama win the presidency and recently backed his re-election bid, according to The Times.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Virginia have reached a tentative agreement on a labor pact that had threatened to quash a deal in which the state would contribute additional money to the Dulles Metrorail project. Any project labor agreement on the second phase of the project cannot force job applicants to join a union as a condition of employment, and nonunion contractors and subcontractors cannot be discriminated against when seeking work, under language approved Wednesday by the agency’s board of directors, The Times reports.

Maryland GOP Sen. E.J. Pipken has sent a letter to the editor to The Times and other newspapers titled “The War on Rural Maryland is Real.” He writes: “It has been clear for the past few years, that the [O’Malley] administration’s programs, policies and proposed legislation constitute an assault on rural economies and property rights. … Implementation of the administration’s policies and legislative proposals, from the proposed septic system ban to higher tolls, taxes, and fees will strip rural Maryland of any real opportunity to create jobs and boost its economy.”

D.C. leaders say they cannot support a Republican proposal on Capitol Hill that would give the city greater control over its budget process yet ban local funding for elective abortions. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and others came to their conclusion about 48 hours after Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, released draft legislation that would allow the city to start its fiscal year on July 1 and spend its money without waiting for Congress to settle its federal budgetary issues. However, the bill included the abortion clause in a effort to win over Hill Republicans who may have objected to the plan had it not included the ban, The Times reports.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that Wal-Mart plans to build six stores across the city and threw his full support behind the proposal, saying the company opening two more locations than planned is a much-needed job creator in a city with pockets of 20-percent unemployment. He also vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to place D.C. residents in the 1,800 retail and 600 construction jobs expected to be created at the sites in four different wards, The Times reports.

Maryland officials approved Bowie State University’s plan Wednesday to spend $553,000 on 32 Steinway pianos over the objection of Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, who has become increasingly critical of the state’s spending amid an anticipated $1 billion shortfall, The Times reports.