Happy Thursday. A list of things to be wary of: Floods, fake weed, and the slow erosion of our democracy.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon Whitewas absent from the Wilson Building this week, during what is arguably the most important vote of the legislative session: the fiscal year budget. He’s in Cabo San Lucas on vacation for his birthday.

  • Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, meanwhile, is urging someone—anyone!—to pay for an extra hour of extended Metro service after Thursday night’s Caps game. “I need someone in this region to step up,” Evans reportedly said Wednesday, after it became apparent that the nation of Qatar will not, in fact, be the one to fund the service.

  • Most of the D.C. Council opposes a ballot initiative to end tipped wages for restaurant workers, with seven members attending a town hall to warn voters against the measure. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said he’s “angry” about Initiative 77, calling its advocates “dishonest.”

  • Virginia is for cheetah lovers: Two area scientists are working to save a species.

  • D.C. was once home to more than 60 gospel quartets. Many of these groups are now five decades old. By replacing members who have died with younger performers, the quartets are still singing—though not often in their hometown.

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Andrew Giambrone (tips? agiambrone@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • D.C. cigarette tax would be among the highest in U.S. under a $2/pack jump. [WCP]

  • Another youth homicide this year: 15-year-old Ballou student dies after gunfire. [NBC4]

  • Police charge charter school teacher with sexual abuse of three juveniles. [WUSA9]

  • Federal government gets involved in litigation over Metro’s concrete problem. [Twitter]

  • DC Fiscal Policy Institute says budget doesn’t help low-income families enough. [DCFPI]

  • DC Policy Center says budget would in effect raise costs for commercial renters. [DCPC]

ARTS LINKS, by Matt Cohen (tips? mcohen@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Presenting: WCP’s 2018 Helen Hayes Awards Awards. [WCP]

  • Local rockabilly legend Tex Rubinowitz stages a return. [Post]

  • Get your camera phones ready, ARTECHOUSE has a new exhibition. [BYT]

  • How Washington Studio School has impacted D.C.’s arts community. [East City Art]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Young & Hungry is away from her desk this week.

HOUSING COMPLEX LINKS, by Morgan Baskin (tips? mbaskin@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • While D.C. officials figure out how to tackle rent control, tenants continue to see astronomical hikes. [WCP]

  • The decision to designate Kingman Park as a historic district has split residents and ignited a debate over the effects on homeowners. [WCP]

  • A soon-to-be D.C. resident seeks advice on how to pick the right neighborhood. [PoPville]

  • What $1.2 million buys in the DMV. [Urban Turf]

  • Apple turns its eye to Northern Virginia. [WBJ]

  • Metro says its rail times indicate the network is becoming more reliable. [GGW]

HAPPENING TODAY

  • Author Michael Pollan stops by Sixth & I Historic Synagogue to discuss his latest work, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, an investigation of psychedelic drugs and what they reveal about humanity. 7 p.m. at 600 I St. NW. $33.

  • Acclaimed jazz vocalist Nicole Henry performs at Blues Alley. 8 and 10 p.m. at 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.

  • To Future Women, an interactive exhibition that invites its audience to write letters to women 20 years in the future, ends its run at the Anacostia Arts Center. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1231 Good Hope Road SE. Free.

  • ANC 7B meets at 7:00 p.m. 3200 S Street SE.

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