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Mayor Muriel Bowser has changed her stance on the disclosure of footage from police-worn body cameras. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Photographer

Mayor Muriel Bowser has changed her stance on the disclosure of footage from police-worn body cameras. Hatchet File Photo.

In a sharp change from her original stance against releasing footage from police body cameras, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed a new plan that would release more footage from D.C. officers than any other U.S. city, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Bowser’s plan would allow private citizens to have access to thousands of police interactions with citizens recorded outdoors in public spaces, but the plan would limit access to recordings from indoor spaces and private areas to courtrooms if necessary, The Post reported. For the past year, the footage from the body cameras was not available to the public. When D.C. proposed adding more than 2,000 body cameras for officers in the program, Bowser suggested that the footage not fall under public record laws.

She said she changed her mind on the new plan because of increased shootings by police officers nationally in the past year.

“Earlier this year, I proposed putting D.C. at the razor’s edge of body worn camera implementation — and despite numerous hurdles that’s exactly what we are poised to do,” Bowser told The Post. “Nationally, we have all seen too many instances where video footage proved to be invaluable. That’s why we are committed to providing every patrol officer with a camera.”

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who is also the chair of the D.C. Council’s Judiciary Committee, said he urged Bowser to change her original stance on restricting disclosure of body camera footage and wanted the approval of new cameras worn by officers to come along with a disclosure policy for the footage.

“We are closer to an agreement for a viable policy for body cameras,” McDuffie said to The Washington Post.

The footage would possibly be available to the public at police stations for a 90-day period but could include redactions, or pieces of footage that would not be permitted to be seen by the public, according from a memo from Bowser’s deputy mayor for public safety, Kevin Donahue, that was obtained by The Washington Post.

Footage recorded inside homes and private buildings and interactions involving sexual assault or domestic violence would also be exempt from the footage disclosure. The memo also included restrictions on information that could release the identities of private citizens in the recordings and and would allow police to blur the faces of minors in the footage.

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In the D.C. Council’s last legislative session before the fall on Tuesday, lawmakers proposed several pieces of legislation that targeted crime in the District, The Washington Post reported.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom, introduced a bill that would require Metropolitan Police Department officers to tow and impound cars if the officer had probable cause that the owner was involved in prostitution. Calling the bill “Honey, I lost the car,” Evans told NBC Washington the measure was meant to deter people from trying to pick up prostitutes because they would be embarrassed to lose their car for the crime.

Evans said prostitution is becoming a problem in the District and the law would deter people from driving out of state to downtown D.C. to pick up prostitutes. He passed similar legislation in 2005 that gave a local agency permission to tow people suspected of supporting prostitution, but said it hasn’t been effectively enforced.

Anita Bonds, an At-Large council member, proposed legislation that would require universities in D.C. to permanently mark a “scarlet letter” on the academic transcripts of students convicted of sexual assault. She cited a survey from The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation that found 20 percent of college females in the past four years had an unwanted sexual experience at school.

“I hear these statistics and I am as outraged as many in the community are,” Bonds told The Washington Post.

Bonds also proposed a bill that would make it illegal to financially exploit elderly residents of D.C., saying the older population is “less equipped to recover from the loss.”

Kenyan McDuffie, the Council member from Ward 5 and the chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill that would increase fines for multiple offenses of having illegal dirt bikes and ATVs in the city. The bill would keep the current $250 fine for the illegal vehicles on the first offense, but increase punishments for later offenses to up to a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail for a third offense.

“I have heard from countless residents, and police officers about the illegal use of dirt bikes and ATVs,” McDuffie said in a press release. “Currently our laws just do not serve as a sufficient deterrent to the use of these machines. Dirt bikes and ATVs are not appropriate for use on our roads, are dangerous, and have been used completely irresponsibly on sidewalks and in packs to intimidate pedestrians and drivers.

The bill against dirt bikes were co-sponsored by Council members Charles Allen from Ward 6 and Brianne Nadeau from Ward 1.

The Council also confirmed 20 appointments by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, including Gregory Dean, the new chief of D.C. Fire and EMS, and five other agency heads.

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More houses in the D.C. metropolitan area were sold last month than in any month since June 2006, according to data from RealEstate Business Insider, The Washington Post reported Friday.

5,652 homes were sold last month, marking a 13 percent increase from June of last year and a seven-month trend in increases in home sales in the region. D.C. homes accounted for 863 of those sales.

Mary Bayat, who owns Bayat Realty in Alexandria and chairs the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors board told The Washington Post that she has noticed home buyers being more confident in their purchase.

“Overall, I can see more hope in people. People are more confident, happier,” Bayat told the Post. “Maybe people are afraid interest rates will go up. They shouldn’t wait. They need to jump into that pool.”

The first half of 2015 has seen a 9 percent increase in sales in the D.C. metro area compared to the first six months of last year.

The fast pace of home sales in the region is likely to continue because there are a large number of pending sales that have been signed but are not yet closed. As the deals close, the numbers of sales is expected to grow.

The housing market continues to climb despite rising home prices, which are still reaching levels that almost hit a record high last month. The median home price in the D.C. area was $439,000 in June, only $1,000 less than the record high median price from June 2007 and 2013. The median price in the region has increased 25 percent since hitting a relatively low $354,000 in June 2010.

D.C. has seen the highest increase in median housing prices in the metro area in the year out of any other part of the region, with median prices rising 5.8 percent to $550,000 since last June. Simultaneously, D.C.’s population has grown about 1 percent a year for the past decade, even as the cost of living continues to grow.

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José Andrés delivered the Commencement address to the Class of 2015. Hatchet File Photo

Following an outcry, José Andrés backed out of opening a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel. Hatchet File Photo


Like Macy’s, NBC and Univision, chef José Andrés has severed ties with real estate mogul and presidential candidate Donald Trump in light of remarks he made about Mexican immigrants.

More than 2,665 people signed a petition started earlier this week telling Andrés, who was GW’s Commencement speaker last year, to cut ties with Trump and not open a restaurant in his future D.C. hotel.

“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C. More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests.  And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status,” he said in a statement released in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

Donald Trump Jr., Executive Vice President of The Trump Organization, responded to Andrés’ statement in a email sent to the Washington Post. He said the company intended to “take legal action to recover all unpaid rent” and “enforce the exclusivity provisions preventing Mr. Andrés from opening a competing restaurant anywhere in the D.C area.”

Andrés, who is an adjunct professor at GW and a member of the Urban Food Task Force, already operates eight eateries and a food truck in D.C.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Regina Park.

Karl Racine won the first-ever race for D.C. attorney general Tuesday.

Racine, a Democrat, won with about 40 percent of the vote, according to the Washington Post. The D.C. attorney general had traditionally been appointed by the mayor.

Racine defeated Lorie Masters, Edward “Smitty” Smith, Lateefah Williams and Paul Zukerberg. All of the candidates were Democrats.

A September NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll found that more than half of likely voters had not decided which attorney general candidate to support. Zukerberg led the race at the time with the support of 14 percent of likely voters. Racine had 5 percent.

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Updated: Aug. 4, 2014 at 8:31 a.m.

American actor Anwan Glover was brought to GW Hospital after he was stabbed in a D.C. nightclub early Sunday morning.

Glover, who appeared on HBO’s “The Wire,” was stabbed in the torso inside Cafe Asia near 17th and I streets at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. A man had approached Glover and repeatedly hit then stabbed him, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The D.C. native, also a musician, was released from GW Hospital after he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the Sun reported.

Glover, who played a gang leader on “The Wire” and also appeared in the movie “12 Years a Slave,” reportedly was shot 13 times when he was younger in Columbia Heights, the Washington Post reported. His brother died in a D.C. shooting seven years ago, and his son was wounded in a shooting four years later.

Glover appeared with then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007 after his brother died to advocate against gun violence in the city.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled the name of former mayor Adrian Fenty. It is Adrian, not Adrien. We regret this error.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014 2:01 p.m.

José Andrés receives White House honor

Celebrity chef and University Commencement speaker José Andrés was honored Friday at the White House.

President Barack Obama recognized Andrés as an “Outstanding American by Choice” during a naturalization ceremony in which 25 members of the military, veterans and their spouses became U.S. citizens.

The Economist, Jose Andres

President Barack Obama honored chef José Andrés at the White House on Friday. Hatchet File Photo

Andrés, who became a citizen last November, was honored as part of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services initiative to highlight the achievements of naturalized citizens who display a commitment to civic duty.

Andrés is the founder of the World Central Kitchen, a charity he established after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He also serves on the boards of D.C. Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen, which focus on hunger problems in urban areas.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, tweeted a photo of Andrés and Obama with the message, “Congrats to @ChefJoseAndres for receiving the Outstanding American Award-he serves both delicious food & those in need.”

Andrés tweeted a similar photo, writing that he was “humbled” by the honor and “happy to be part of this great nation!”

In his remarks, Obama spoke about the 25 immigrants taking part in the ceremony and the urgency of immigration reform.

Obama vowed to “keep making our immigration system smarter and more efficient so hardworking men and women like all of you have the opportunity to join the American family and to serve our great nation.”

During his Commencement address this spring, Andrés, who immigrated from Spain 24 years ago, told graduates to reshape the American dream.

He has spoken out in favor of immigration reform in the past, notably in an op-ed in the Washington Post last December.

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This post was written by assistant news editor Zaid Shoorbajee.

Congress scrutinized D.C.’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana Friday, poking holes in the legislation that the federal government has the power to overturn.

A U.S. House of Representatives oversight subcommittee voiced concerns that the measure would have negative effects on public health and questioned whether it would be able to combat racial disparities in drug arrests, which was why many D.C. Council members supported it in March.

Congress has about 50 days to review the law, which Mayor Vincent Gray signed on March 31. Both houses of Congress would have to pass and President Barack Obama would have sign legislation to overturn it.

If approved, those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana in D.C. would face a $25 fine instead of criminal charges. Smoking in public would still be a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 60 days in jail.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress, attacked the hearing because it was the first in more than a decade to only focus on a D.C. law, the Washington Post reported.

Representatives also challenged the measure for possibly conflicting with enforcement of federal law.

Deputy Chief of the U.S. Park Police Robert Mclean said at the hearing that the change wouldn’t impact enforcement on federal land. Federal parks, which make up about 22 percent of the land that falls within city limits, are under the jurisdiction of the Park Police.

Those arrested on federal property for marijuana possession face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said GW would wait until Congress approves the law before it considers changing punishments for marijuana possession on campus. University Police Chief Kevin Hay said in October that students would still face disciplinary action if they are caught smoking in their rooms.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014 7:46 p.m.

Snow headed for the District again

Snow is expected to dust the city Monday, and two counties in Virginia announced their public schools will be closed.

A dog stands in Dupont Circle during a snowball fight earlier this year. Hatchet File Photo

A dog stands in Dupont Circle during a snowball fight earlier this year. Hatchet File Photo

Between 2 and 4 inches of snow could accumulate in the D.C. area by Monday morning, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang predicted, but even less could pile up downtown or near the Potomac River.

Snow that falls in the early evening will likely melt because of above-freezing temperatures, but it could start to stick between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Public schools in Fairfax and Loudoun counties will be closed Monday.

GW has canceled classed three times because of snow this academic year.

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray gives his State of the District speech last year. Federal prosecutors are now alleging he knew about the shadow campaign. Hatchet File Photo.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray gives his State of the District speech last year. Federal prosecutors are now alleging he knew about the shadow campaign. Hatchet File Photo.

Federal prosecutors said Monday that Mayor Vincent Gray had asked for the help of D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson before he illegally funnelled more than a half-million dollars into Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign, The Washington Post reported.

Thompson pled guilty to two conspiracy counts Monday, including the financing of a $668,800 shadow campaign for Gray’s first mayoral bid between May and September 2010 – a figure that was higher than previously reported. Prosecutors said that Gray had met with Thompson several times and helped keep Thompson’s identity a secret by calling him “Uncle Earl.”

Gray said Monday that he used the nickname to keep Thompson’s identity a secret from former mayor Adrian Fenty, who also received money. Gray has repeatedly denied knowledge of the fund, though he publicly apologized for the 2010 campaign after launching his reelection bid in January.

He dismissed prosecutor’s charges when talking to a Washington Post reporter Monday.

“It’s shocking to me. Lies. These are lies,” Gray said, adding that Thompson implicated him to lessen the time he’d have to spend in prison.

“The only thing I can tell people is what has been and continues to be the truth for me, and you know what that is. I don’t need to repeat that for the 933rd time,” Gray said.

Thompson could have faced 18 months in prison but as a result of the plea, he will face at most six months in prison and a three-year supervised release.

Thompson’s court appearance, as well as the documents, unveil a tangled web of funding to federal and local political campaigns, which totalled more than $2 million. The cash also went toward Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and Council member Vincent Orange’s 2011 At-Large Council campaign.

Thompson gave money to at least 13 federal candidates – including D.C.’s delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton – between 2006 and 2010, according to the documents.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen described the court appearance as a “major turning point” though he said there were “varying degrees of knowledge” about the funds among the candidates who received funding from Thompson. Machen declined to comment if Gray had cooperated with the investigation.

“What you learned about today was only the tip of the iceberg,” Machen said, adding there was no timeline to release more information about Gray before April’s Democratic mayoral primary.

Thompson said at the hearing that Orange – who is also running for mayor – did not know about the fund.

In a release, Gray’s campaign manager Chuck Thies cautioned about the “innuendo” of the charges.

“The Jeffrey Thompson charging document should be read carefully. Common misconceptions espoused by our opponents and echoed in the media are not substantiated in the Jeffrey Thompson charging documents. Read carefully,” Thies said.

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