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Posted at 8:08 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Lori's A.M. Buzz: Gray gives up the gavel

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post editors

Good morning. We're getting word this morning that Metro has begun random bag inspections at Braddock Road and at least one other station. We'll be watching, but let us know if you're at a station where searches are happening or if you yourself had a bag searched. You can also tweet us using #wmatasearch. Thanks for the help.

Partly sunny and cold. Hmmm . . . yes, still colder than normal. But slightly warmer than it was yesterday. (Baby steps, people, baby steps). The Capital Weather Gang predicts a partly sunny day with temperatures in the mid-to-high 30's. The same weather pattern should stick with us for most of the week, until Christmas Eve/Christmas. There's about a 50 percent chance of a white Christmas -- so we'll keep you posted on that.

Coming up:

Gray to put down the gavel. Today is Vincent Gray's last meeting as D.C. Council Chairman before being sworn in as the District's new mayor next month. D.C. Council member Kwame Brown will take over chairmanship duties. The Council may be in transition, but there's still business to be done. Members are expected to take up a bill to force online travel sites to pay the District's hotel tax on the full price customers pay for hotel or motel rooms in the city. We'll report on the outcome of that measure as well as any parting words  Gray may offer. Be sure to check back.

Inaugural tidbits. Newly annointed Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl will deliver the invocation and benediction at the Jan. 2 inauguration of Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray, officials announced Monday. Gray is Catholic and attends Mass regularly.

1 - 2 - 3 . . . Census results will be released this morning. One of the big questions: Will D.C.'s population finally crack 600,000? Today's numbers are the first results from the once-a-decade government count. They also have political significance: the figures will be used to reapportion the 435 House seats among the 50 states -- a process that will shape the political landscape for the next 10 years.

Today's headlines:

Metro in transition. It looks like 2011 will be a big year of change for Metro. WMATA is expected to have a new permanent general manager in place soon and its board of directors is undergoing one of the biggest changeover in years. As many as eight of the board's 14 members may be departing. And while some welcome the fresh faces that will take their places, other worry about the loss of institutional memory and experience as the system tries to improve safety and performance at a time when money is tight.

Renters are getting squeezed. Housing isn't cheap in the D.C.-area and now new figures show just how difficult a market it can be if you're a renter. New figures show that rents have surged 22 percent in 2009 from a decade earlier. Part of the jump is because larger properties like single family homes have now become rental properties -- but rents for apartments around the region also have increased.

A new look for Kensington? The proposed "revitalization" of the town of Kensington, known for its Antique Row and its village charm, has some longtime residents worried that it will become a high-rise mini city complete with traffic jams and overcrowded classrooms. While many residents welcome some change, plans for development could nearly double the area's current population.

In short. A ruling on the official cause of the death of a Silver Spring man outside the DC9 nightclub in October has been delayed because of problems related to obtaining a death certificate, officials say (WTOP); Maryland's Department of Natural Resources is defending its decision to fine two men who jumped into the icy Patapsco River on Thursday to save a deer after it was determined they didn't have life vests aboard the inflatable boat they used to reach the deer. (The Baltimore Sun); the number of Montgomery County Police Officers on disability has nearly doubled in a year. (Washington Examiner)

Other items:

The lunar eclipse. Did you see that lunar eclipse early this morning? Better yet, did you take a fabulous photo? If so, share it with us and other Post readers.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day. Be sure to check with us for more news and headlines. We'll have tips for holiday travel as well. (Check out the transcript from Dr. Gridlock's Monday chat on the holiday getaway).

By Lori Aratani  | December 21, 2010; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Loris AM Buzz, Maryland, Virginia, Weather  | Tags:  loris am buzz  
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