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Posted at 7:59 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

A.M. Buzz: Mardi Gras, UDC, gas prices

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post editors

Good morning. It's a very newsy Tuesday. Pepco's new reliability plan may not be so reliable after all, according to a report by a team of independent consultants. On the D.C. government front: The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance has begun an probe of allegations of impropriety by members of Vincent Gray's campaign team involving a city job and political attacks on Adrian Fenty. And alas, traffic is worse in places like Los Angeles and New York, but we're still among the worst in the country when it comes to congestion, according to a new report.

Coming up.

The best day of the week? Looks like we'll be getting a rest between storms. The Capital Weather Gang says today should be nice -- perhaps the nicest we'll get this week. Temperatures will be in the low- to mid-50's with partly to mostly sunny skies. Looks like the next storm will blow in in the late afternoon on Wednesday, with rain likely Thursday.

D.C. falling behind on efforts to fight AIDS? A report slated to be released today says the District is falling behind on efforts to fight AIDS. The report's authors said part of the problem has been a lack of leadership by Mayor Adrian Fenty and called on D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to restore momentum to efforts to combat the disease.

Mardi Gras. Today is Shrove Tuesday -- also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Want to get in on the celebration? Jason Wilson on the All You Can Eat blog offers some suggestions for classic cocktails -- other than the headache inducing Hurricane. We also invite you to share your Mardi Gras photos.

Today's headlines:

Gray campaign probe. This has hardly been the fresh start that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray envisioned, I'm sure. On Monday, the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance announced it is  launching a probe into allegations by Sulaimon Brown that members of Gray's campaign staff offered him a city job in exchange for his continued attacks on then-D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty during last year's mayoral campaign. Gray's aides have denied such a deal existed. At least two other offices are looking into the allegations:  at Gray's request: the acting attorney general's office;  and at D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's request, the D.C. Inspector General. Kwame Brown, you may recall, ran into trouble of his own when news surfaced about the fully loaded SUV he'd requested at taxpayer expense.

Bag tax in Montgomery? Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is proposing a 5-cent bag fee that would cover nearly all merchants -- from grocery stores to wig shops -- in Montgomery County. If approved, the measure would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

The East Coast Rapist. We're learning more about the man accused of being the East Coast Rapist. Aaron H. Thomas, 39, an out-of-work truck driver, is currently in custody in Connecticut. He's accused in more than a dozen attacks over a span of 14 years -- including a 2009 attack in Prince William County on Halloween.

In short. Students at UDC are calling for the resignation of President Allen Sessoms amid allegations of lavish spending on business trips (Post); Prince George's County Police shot and killed a man Monday (Post); Alexandria officials have dropped plans to charge for handicap parking in the city (Washington Examiner)

Other items:

Your vote counts.  On a whim, Nicole Pugh voted for herself and became a member of her local Advisory Neighborhood Commission -- with one vote. She's now in charge of a D.C. neighborhood district east of the Anacostia that hasn't had representation in 14 years.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day. Be sure to check back with Post Local throughout the day for more updates, headlines and other just plain useful news, like where to find the cheapest gas in the D.C. area.

By Lori Aratani  | March 8, 2011; 7:59 AM ET
Categories:  AM Buzz  
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