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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Where Does Vincent Orange Stand On Gay Marriage?,” “Prosecutors Portray Intern Murder Suspect As Bully

Howdy. This shouldn’t be a front-page-above-the-fold-before-the-jump story, but this story is just too fun. Yesterday, Vincent Orange jumped into the race for D.C. Council Chair. This news merited six short graphs (and drew zero comments) on D.C. Wire. WTOP didn’t even send a reporter to cover it! I can’t even find an Orange story on the Examiner’s nutty site. So why is this big news? Because Vincent Orange is fun. He will pass out oranges. He will smile a lot. He’s a man that at least appears to enjoy politics. His spokesperson is Linda Greene, a former Barry flack. There is nobody more pro than Ms. Greene. Wherever Orange goes, there’s bound to be a good quote or at least an awkward/fun/confusing moment. Hence, WBJ’s Micheal Neibauer‘s awesome Orange-is-running story. Neibauer covers all the bases, interviewing Orange’s opponent Kwame Brown, getting down Orange’s building-consensus theme. And then he got this little off-message moment: “The ‘consensus’ message was strictly enforced at One Judiciary Square Wednesday. When asked why she’s backing Orange, a woman carrying a Vincent Orange sign had briefly answered, ‘He’s the smartest person running,’ before being told that supporters were not allowed to give interviews to the press.” Neibauer was also magic on Twitter. Campaign season just got a lot more fun.

NO FUN METRO FARE HIKES: Metro—-D.C.’s Amtrak—-is about to rain some sadness on all of us. WaPo’s Ann Scott Tyson reports that the troubled transpo system is expected to raise fares in a big way: “Metro riders are bracing for their most extensive fare increases ever — more than $102 million worth for next year, including surcharges of as much as 50 cents for peak rail trips — as the financially beleaguered transit agency attempts to dig itself out of a deepening deficit. Metro’s staff is requesting that its board of directors provide final guidance on the higher fares Thursday to allow time to put the bulk of the increases in place by the fiscal year that begins July 1….The latest budget proposal by Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles, aimed at closing a $189 million budget gap for fiscal 2011, includes $8 million in service cuts and borrowing $30 million for preventive maintenance from the capital budget. Board member Jim Graham of the District said the board is nearing consensus on the fares, with ‘just a few outstanding issues.'” More coverage via NBC4.

AFTER THE JUMP—-The darn soda tax, Mary Cheh pranks the Wilson Building, marriage is cool again, and much, much more!

The buzz: Fenty appearing on Fox-5 this morning was asked about the Fair Budget Coalition/Save Our Safety Net proposal of increasing taxes on the wealthy to solve the budget crisis. Fenty stated that any changes to the tax system require thorough public discussion. Of course! Public discourse is exactly what the mayor is all about.

GAY MARRIAGE: WTOP’s Mark Segraves reports that the passage of the gay-marriage bill has contributed to a surge in marriage licenses: “Same-sex marriage has only been legal in the District for about two months, but the city is on track to set a record for marriages this year. The D.C. Superior Court has already issued more than 2,000 marriage licenses. ‘To put that in perspective,’ Judge William Jackson says. ‘All of last year was about 3,000.’ In the first three months of 2010, the court processed 376 applications. Since March 3 — when gay marriage became legal in the District — the marriage license office has received 2,082 applications. Based on the early numbers, the District is on target to issue four times as many marriage licenses this year as they did in 2009.”

TAXES PART ONE: WBJ’s Michael Neibauer reports that Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser is proposing to bring back a tax on vacant properties: “A D.C. Council committee is recommending that the District reinstall a $5 real estate tax rate on most vacant properties, as was the case two years ago before the council doubled the tax and then, a year later, killed it altogether. The Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs, chaired by Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, D-Ward 4, wants to create a fourth class of property under its proposed ‘Vacant Property Disincentivization Act,’ an amendment to the fiscal 2011 Budget Support Act that the council will consider in two weeks. The proposed vacant property rate of $5 per $100 of assessed value would generate $3.1 million next year, according to a draft committee budget report obtained by the Washington Business Journal. A proposed $250 vacant property registration fee would raise millions more. ‘These disincentives must be powerful,’ the committee states in the report. ‘Vacant properties harm neighborhoods and should not be treated the same as occupied properties.'”

MARY CHEH IS FUNNY: D.C. Wire has the scoop on Cheh pranking the Wilson Building yesterday: “Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) proposed spending $500,000 to put a Starbucks in the John A. Wilson Building and $2 million to help enter residents in The Washington Post’s annual Peeps Contest. She also wants to require the mayor to immediately deliver any sporting events tickets to the D.C. Council and to merge his office with that of the city administrator and deputy mayor to save $15 million. Actually, she doesn’t want to do any of that. Cheh, who postponed an April Fool’s joke to avoid conflicting with two mayoral candidacy announcements at the end of March, released a fake memo to her colleagues Wednesday with outrageous recommendations for the fiscal 2011 budget that took a jab at tensions between Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and the council.” For example, the Cheh Memo—-which LL hopes becomes an annual tradition—-states:

“For the purposes of the FY2010 gap closing, direct that no funds shall be spent by the Office of the Attorney General to issue opinions supporting the legality of Mayoral actions. It will be assumed that the Attorney General will reach such a conclusion in all cases, thus resulting in savings of $360,000 staff time and office resources for the remainder of the Fiscal Year. “

BARNES DANCE: Who cares? Everybody. Or at least every single local news outlet. Here’s one story via WTOP.

TAXES PART TWO: We shouldn’t drink soda. Period. But that hasn’t stopped local restaurant poobahs from banding together to fight Councilmember Mary Cheh‘s soda tax. D.C. Wire has the story: “In today’s edition of the Northwest Current, a group called NoDCBeverage Tax took out a full-page ad opposing the proposed tax. ‘Listen up D.C.,’ the ad states. ‘A New Beverage Tax is Moving In. Unless we put the brakes on it.’ It continues, ‘We can’t afford to pay more taxes here in D.C. But some members of the City Council want to squeeze even more money out of us.’ The ad references a Web site where residents are asked to sign a petition opposing the tax….The council will likely consider Cheh’s proposal, which would assess a 1 cent per ounce tax on sugar soda to pay for healthier school lunches, as part of the 2011 budget that will be voted on the council in late May.” Coalition members include such political heavyweights as Blimpies, Pizza Bolis, and Benning Liquor. D.C. Wire also reports that Councilmember Jack Evans has joined forces with Benning Liquor to oppose the soda tax.

ALONTE SUTTON: Yesterday, law enforcement filed papers in court outlining the events that led up to the former Wilson Building intern’s death. WaPo’s Keith Alexander reports: “D.C. Council intern Alonte Sutton was fatally shot by a man who had slashed his tires after Sutton said he could not give him or his girlfriend a ride in his car, according to documents filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday. According to the documents, Omare I. Cotton, 28, became ‘angry’ during a May 6 conversation. After the conversation, Cotton slashed the tires on Sutton’s car. Cotton — who is known to police as someone who hangs out in the neighborhood where Sutton’s body was found — was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder. Cotton was on probation in Maryland after being convicted of robbery and first-degree assault. After Cotton’s arrest, detectives found a glass vial containing a liquid they suspected might have been PCP. On Wednesday, a D.C. magistrate judge ordered Cotton held in the D.C. jail until his preliminary hearing, which is set for May 27.” More coverage via WTOP. WUSA9 and NC8 covered the vigil for Sutton.

Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras predicts the drama over the DCPS teachers’ contract is far from over.

VIRGINIA NEWS ROUNDUP: WaPo editorial board urges UVA to fight Virginia’s AG’s “personal war” against climate change: “It’s clear from his statements that the ‘Climategate’ controversy — in which hackers stole records of e-mails between climate researchers that global warming skeptics then distorted — inspired his witch hunt. Is there any doubt that the attorney general is trying to restoke that row with a fresh batch of e-mails? In the process, he would deal grave harm to scientific inquiry throughout Virginia’s public higher education system. Science progresses when researchers can propose ideas freely, differ in their methods and argue about the interpretations of their results. The commonwealth should nurture that process, not make scientists fear that they will be subject to investigation if a politician dislikes their conclusions.” An 82-year-old former D.C. Police Officer is attempting to install a citizen’s group to oversee the troubled Fairfax Police Department, WaPo’s Tom Jackman reports.

FISCAL POLICY: If you are upset about the proposed cuts to social services, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute is encouraging you to call your D.C. Councilmember today. Why should you be concerned about those cuts? Elissa Silverman writes:

“As a result of the Great Recession, DC’s expected revenues have fallen by more than $1 billion.  The proposed budget from Mayor Fenty  makes painful reductions to child care, job training and help for our most vulnerable residents, as well as takes big hits to environmental programs, public safety, and public works.

A cuts-only approach will not move us toward recovery. We need a balanced approach that includes revenues to invest in our city and get us back to work and prosperity.”

MAYOR’S SCHEDULE:

7:10 a.m. Fenty on Fox Location: Fox 5

10:45 a.m. Remarks Special Education Transportation Press Conference Location: SW Terminal 2 DC Village Lane SW

D.C. COUNCIL SCHEDULE:

10 a.m. Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Human Services Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

11 a.m. Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

Noon: Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

2 p.m.: Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Finance and Revenue Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

4 p.m. : Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Economic Development Location: John A.Wilson Building, Room 500

5 p.m.: Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Government Operations and the Environment Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

6 p.m.: Committee Mark-Up Schedule – Committee on Public Works and Transportation Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

*Today’s headline makes no sense. It’s just a reference to Slant 6.