Lori's A.M. Buzz: D.C. SUVs, gay marriage, ICC
This post has been updated.
Good morning. It's Wednesday. There's still plenty of outrage around town about D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's "fully loaded" SUV; the first motorists are making their way across the newly opened ICC; and in Virginia, there's a report that a veteran's charity may have solicited more than $2 million in donations from residents under false pretenses. So much news and it's still early in the day.
A nice day. No rain, no snow, no ice. After moving from 70-degree days back to snow and ice, it looks like we've settled into a brief lull, weather-wise. The Capital Weather Gang says it will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the low-to-mid-40's. We may get a little rain on Thursday, but it will be slightly warmer -- temperatures possibly in the 50s.
An easier commute? There was a one day snow delay -- but today commuters are whizzing along the first 7.2 mile stretch of the Intercounty Connector that goes from I-270 to Norbeck Road. It's free for now, but beginning Mar. 7, drivers will have to pay. As you're cruising along, you might notice that the ICC isn't just any highway. There are some special touches on this roadway, where the color scheme includes earthtones and concrete for overpasses was poured into special forms and strained so that it would look like stone. "There are a lot of little details that people wouldn't necessarily pick up on," said Melinda Peters, the Maryland State Highway Administration's project director on the ICC's construction. "They don't add a lot to the cost of construction, but they add a lot to the look." Dr. Gridlock offers these tips on getting an E-Z Pass for driving on the ICC.
Abraham Lincoln's journey. We'll be at a reenactment of President Abraham Lincoln's famous train trip from Springfield, Ill., to Washington, D.C., scheduled for today. The event is part of National Park Service festivities marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's arrival in Washington before his first inauguration. Along for the train trip will be a group of high school students from Baltimore's Digital Harbor School and National Park Service director Jon Jarvis.
Same-sex marriage debate in Md. Floor debate on a measure that would legalize same sex marriage in Maryland is slated to begin today -- with a vote expected sometime this week. The measure was approved by a key Senate committee last week -- and this week's vote on the Senate floor is expected to be close. We'll bring you scenes from the debate, as well as our continued tally of Maryland State Senators expected to support the measure.
Please join us. You're invited to attend our "Town Hall" meeting -- "Behind the Headlines: A Discussion on Race and the Recession in Metro Washington," examining the impact of the recession on local black families as well as how economic policies in Washington have affected African Americans. The Post's personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary will moderate the discussion. The free panel is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the the Rennie Forum, Prince George's Community College, 301 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, Md., 20774. To RSVP and to submit a question for the panel, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. NOTE: Registration for this event is now closed, but you can watch the forum on Post Local starting at 6:30 p.m.
"Fully loaded" fallout. We've got more fallout from news about D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's city-leased Lincoln Navigator SUV -- you know, the "fully loaded" SUV that's costing D.C. taxpayers upwards of $2,000 a month. D.C. pols are weighing in, including former D.C. Council member Vincent Orange, who ran against Brown for the chairmanship and is now running for Brown's old seat at-large seat on the council, who called the lease an "exercise of poor judgment." And Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) -- chairman of the transportation committee which oversees the Department of Public Works that manages the city fleet -- sent a letter to Director William Howland Tuesday morning asking for data on vehicles owned and leased by the city. Brown has said he'll return the vehicle,but given the lease terms, it doesn't look as if that's going to be an option. So taxpayers may be stuck.
A brave woman. It's a tough subject, but a story worth reading. The Post's Dan Morse writes about a rape victim who faces her attacker more than 35 years later at a parole hearing in Maryland -- in a brave attempt to prevent the man from being released and possibly victimizing other women. She was just 16 when she was attacked and this was the first time she'd come face-to-face with the man.
Libyans in D.C. Libya may seem like a world away to many of us, but to Libyans living here in the D.C.-region, watching protests and demonstrations has been cause for anxiety as they struggle to stay in touch with family and friends. On Tuesday, local Libyans held a news conference in Fairfax to call for an international no-fly zone over Libya to be enforced by the United Nations and NATO. And many local Libyans are also trying to find ways to send humanitarian aid to family and friends.
A more expensive ride? Your D.C. cab ride may have just gotten a bit more expensive. The chairman of the D.C. Taxicab commission said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has ordered that the $19 cap on fares be lifted.
In short. Metro officials have announced plans for more track work the first weekend in March that will affect the Blue and Orange lines (Post); Barnes and Noble is apparently eying some soon-to-be shuttered Border's locations (Washington Business Journal); a Florida-based veterans charity may have accepted more than $2 million in donations from Virginia residents under false pretenses and could face possible criminal prosecution (Post)
Permit required. A Lincoln impersonator apparently was ticketed for reciting the "Gettysburg Address" at the top of the steps at the Lincoln Memorial on President's Day. It seems that Phill Howell didn't have the proper permit. (WUSA)
That's it for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day. Be sure to check back with Post Local for more updates and headlines throughout the day. We'll have the latest from the Maryland State Legislature on the first day of debate from the Senate floor on legalizing same-sex marriage, and live coverage of the Town Hall meeting on race tonight.