Obama administration rebuffs D.C.’s efforts to bring back the Redskins

Obama administration rebuffs D.C.’s efforts to bring back the Redskins

By Jonathan O’Connell, Washington Post, July 1 at 11:20 AM

Efforts to lure the Washington Redskins back to the District have come up against a potentially insurmountable challenge: the Obama administration’s objections to the team’s name.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.

Jewell oversees both national park land and America’s trust and treaty relationships with Native American tribes.

Her decision not to extend the District’s lease of the RFK land badly hinders Bowser’s bid to return the Redskins to D.C. — and boosts efforts to lure the team across the Potomac to Northern Virginia.

Since joining the Obama administration two years ago, Jewell has repeatedly echoed the president’s concern that the name is offensive to Native Americans. Last fall she called the name a “relic of the past” that should be changed.

“Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins.’ So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different,” Jewell told ABC News.

Jewell reiterated that position with Bowser (D) at an April 27 meeting, telling the mayor that she was unlikely to rework the lease terms for a stadium in part because of the team’s name, according to a Department of the Interior spokeswoman, Jessica Kershaw.

Team owner Daniel Snyder, who insists that the moniker honors Native Americans, has vowed never to change it.

Bowser, jockeying with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to land the team’s new stadium, had inquired with Park Service officials about extending the District’s lease for the RFK property to allow for a new stadium. Extending the lease would also require congressional action.

Jewell “did mention in that meeting that she was uncomfortable with the name,” Kershaw said. “The president has said something similar, that he is uncomfortable with the name, and she clearly clarified that position.”

A second factor the secretary raised, Kershaw said, was that with just 18 months remaining in the Obama administration, re-working the lease was not likely to be a top concern before the president leaves office. D.C. owns RFK stadium but leases the 190 acres beneath the stadium as well as surrounding parking lots and land from the park service. The lease expires in 22 years.

“Given the timing, this is not likely to be a priority for this administration,” Kershaw said.

Robert A. Vogel, regional director of the Park Service, responded formally to the mayor’s request for a lease extension in a May 19 letter.

“As I believe the Secretary made clear in our discussion, the NPS will not take a position in support of such an extension at this time,” he wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “You are, of course, free to seek such legislation without NPS support.”

The Park Service’s position hampers Bowser’s bid to return the team to the city from FedEx Field, in Prince George’s County, a stadium that is only 18 years old but that the team is trying to vacate before its lease there expires in 2026. Team officials, citing fan complaints about the stadium’s configuration, have removed seats from FedEx three times in five years.

Bowser spokesman Michael Czin declined to comment. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie also declined to comment.

RFK will be largely unused by 2018, when D.C. United is expected to move into a new soccer stadium on Buzzard Point in Southwest. Events DC, the sports and convention arm of the District that operates the property, has been studying how best to use the RFK land into the future.

Officials said they expect to release the results of that study later this summer. That’s later than some onlookers expected, but Events DC Chairman Max Brown, a prominent District businessman and lobbyist, said figuring out how to accommodate the interests of many stakeholders “is not just like saying where do you want to put the couch in your living room.”

Not only is the RFK land in a flood plain and adjacent to heavily populated Capitol Hill neighborhoods, but the federal lease also restricts use of the land to stadium purposes, recreation and parking. The future of the D.C. Armory, built in 1941, is also being considered.

“We’ve got a tremendous opportunity here to reuse this site under the constrictions that the NPS mandates for sporting, recreation and other uses,” Brown said. “There is a broad opportunity citywide for people to use that space. You’ve got 18 million tourists who could come use that space. You’ve got the surrounding community who could use that space.”

The restrictions in the Park Service lease could complicate financing of a new NFL stadium because of the way stadium development has evolved in the 55 years since construction began on RFK.

Rarely are stadiums built in urban settings today without shops or hotels nearby, but it isn’t clear how much of that would be permitted on the RFK site, which could make financing major improvements difficult.

“There aren’t single-use facilities anymore that don’t have ancillary uses that support the sports and entertainment,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive of Events DC.

NFL owners still insist on including thousands of parking spaces for new stadiums, however, something D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and some residents of Capitol Hill don’t think is the best use of the property.

One group, a nonprofit called Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park, is advocating for Events DC to build a series of playing fields with a pavilion for farmers markets on a portion of the site, although that may not preclude a stadium.

“We don’t have enough green space in the city,” said the group’s president, Michael Godec. “We have growing populations of kids and less and less places for them to play.”

Although Snyder has openly reminisced about attending the team’s games at RFK as a child, McAuliffe is making a determined bid for a new stadium, an effort that includes a hand-offs approach to the team’s name and stadium sites that don’t require federal approval. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has also pitched the team on remaining in the state.

McAuliffe said 66 percent of the team’s season ticket holders live in the commonwealth, as do almost all the players. The team already has its headquarters and practice facilities there as well.

“I would love to have the Redskins come to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said in April. “It’s where they belong.”

Robert McCartney and Aaron C. Davis contributed to this report.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

The Vision Zero Initiative

The Vision Zero Initiative

Objective: By the year 2024, Washington, DC will reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system, through more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering.

Vision Zero is a part of Mayor Bowser’s response to the US Department of Transportation’s Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets, which aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle transportation safety by showcasing effective local actions, empowering local leaders to take action, and promoting partnerships to advance pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Vision Zero requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. More than 20 District government agencies are engaged in the Vision Zero Initiative, including DDOT, Department of Public Works, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Metropolitan Police Department, DC Taxi Cab Commission, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the DC Office on Aging, DC Public Schools, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Homeland Security and Management, Office of Unified Communications, Department of Health, the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Office of Disability Rights, Office of Planning, Office of the City Administrator, Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

Contact the Vision Zero team at vision.zero.

Tweets

Tweet your suggestions using #VZDC

#VZDC Tweets

Engineering and Infrastructure

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X Avenue, SE

Careful data analysis will identify specific locations that require new interventions and safety strategies. The intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, and Malcolm X Avenue, SE, is one example. DDOT has planned a $5 million investment for safety improvements at the intersection.

Enforcement and Education

Greater enforcement and education will protect our most vulnerable travelers. Infrastructure alone will not reduce fatalities and serious injuries to zero.

Data

Vision Zero strategies will be informed by a systematic data and information-driven process that identifies and prioritizes interventions with the greatest potential to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries.

Planning Timeline

Month Activity Key Outcomes
March​ 3/6/15 Public launch of Vision Zero Initiative

Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Identify existing plans, processes, actions & deficiencies
• Identify best practices

• Baseline data collection and existing conditions
April Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Review data analysis and reporting
• Plan for major stakeholder engagement
• Launch interactive engagement tool and plan public workshops
May Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Review stakeholder engagement and initial action items
• Major public engagement
June Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Review public/stakeholder engagement
• Draft action list and priorities
• Draft actions and priorities
July Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Draft Action Plan and agency commitments
• Draft Action Plan
August Interagency Meeting Agenda:
• Final Action Plan and public engagement
• Final Action Plan
• Agency work plans
• Public/stakeholder engagement on Action Plan
September Release of Completed Action Plan

Struck in D.C.: An Interview With No. 249 (Map)

Struck in D.C.: An Interview With No. 249 (Map)

Posted by Olivia Adams, Washington City Paper, on June 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm

At least 255 pedestrians and cyclists have been struck, primarily by motorists, in D.C. so far this year. Fifty-two of the year’s total incidents took place this month, with cyclists comprising about a quarter of those hit.

Bannon Puckett, who has been biking in D.C. for two years, is one of those 52.

On June 22, Puckett says he was side-swiped from the left by a driver who made a right turn on red at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Benning Road NE. “I fell onto the street, and his wheels kept coming at me, so I was scrambling on the pavement to avoid getting run over too,” Puckett says via email of the crash. His bike was totaled, and he suffered bruises and cuts, but no broken bones. The driver remained at the scene, he says, and D.C. police arrived within five minutes after being called by a bystander. Puckett says he filed a report with the Metropolitan Police Department and received treatment at George Washington University Hospital. “I am extremely lucky the injuries were not worse,” he says.

Mayor Muriel Bowser committed D.C. in March to ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024 through Vision Zero. A website for the initiative was launched today, and a completed action plan is scheduled to be released in September.

Building off the work of Struck in D.C., a project run by Geoffrey Hatchard, Kim Shults, and Stephen Miller, Washington City Paper will compile reports of pedestrian and cyclist incidents this year for a map and interview project. Submit an incident using the form below.

Joint DISB and HBX Press Release: Essential Health Benefits “Benchmark Plan” Selected for 2017

DISB Press Release
For Immediate Release

Joint Press Release: D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking and D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority

June 30, 2015

Contact: Kate Hartig, DISB, (202) 442-7753
kathryn.hartig

Adam Hudson, HBX, (202) 527-5622
adam.hudson@dc.gov

Essential Health Benefits “Benchmark Plan” Selected for 2017

A benchmark plan determines which health insurance benefits are required by law for all individual and small group plans sold in the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C. – Today, the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) and the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX) announce the 2014 Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc. (GHMSI) (CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield) BluePreferred PPO $1,000 – 100/80% Plan as the “benchmark plan” selection for plans sold in the District of Columbia starting in 2017.

A benchmark plan determines which health insurance benefits are considered essential under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and therefore required of all plans sold to small businesses and to individuals and families.

"This benchmark plan selection continues DISB’s and the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority’s commitment to ensuring that residents have access to all essential health benefits required under the law and that our residents and businesses are a part of important policy decisions impacting their health and that of their families and employees,” said DISB Acting Commissioner Stephen C. Taylor.

The HBX Executive Board requested its Standing Advisory Board analyze options for the essential health benefits benchmark and to recommend the best option for the District. After a comprehensive review of benefits and formularies, and discussion of public written and oral comments, the HBX Standing Advisory Board voted unanimously to select the 2014 GHMSI BluePreferred PPO Plan. The HBX Executive Board then voted unanimously to approve this benchmark plan selection. Commissioner Taylor today notified the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight of the District’s benchmark plan selection as required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Despite the short time to make a decision, the Standing Advisory Board spent significant time thoroughly analyzing all options through a review of benefits and exclusions, reviewing HBX staff and DISB staff research, and considering public input,” said Diane C. Lewis, chair of the HBX Executive Board.

The selection is consistent with the District’s previous benchmark selection for plans sold from 2014-2016. The GHMSI BluePreferred PPO plan was the largest small group health plan sold in the District based on enrollment in first quarter 2014.

More information on essential health benefits and District’s process for selecting the benchmark plan can be viewed here.

Meet the Democrat in D.C. who is cutting taxes for the rich – and for everyone else

Meet the Democrat in D.C. who is cutting taxes for the rich – and for everyone else

By Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post, June 28 at 8:08 PM

Phil Mendelson could be a comic-book caricature of a ­bleeding-heart D.C. liberal.

He drives an aging Ford Focus because it was union-made. He tried to keep Wal-Mart from moving into the nation’s capital unless it agreed to boost wages. And he has voted against tax cuts for the wealthy as many times as he has fingers.

Picture D.C.’s version of Bernie Sanders — only balding and with a mustache.

But Mendelson (D) is now fighting a title as improbable as any in his nearly two decades in public office — and one that is anathema to almost every other elected Democrat in the District. Mendelson has been labeled by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) as a man cutting taxes for the city’s wealthy and its businesses. What’s more, Bowser charges, he’s on the verge of a power play to rush into law those tax cuts for the rich.

In truth, the District’s most powerful politician you’ve probably never heard of is in the middle of a once-in-a-generation campaign to cut taxes for almost every D.C. resident. A council vote Tuesday could be a litmus test, not only for Mendelson’s power as chairman, but also for the mayor’s — and for the identity of a rapidly gentrifying city.

[D.C.
Council approves tax cuts, aims to be more competitive with Md., Va.
]

The District, facing bankruptcy 20 years ago, is now flush with cash. An explosion of lucrative government contracting jobs and industry leaders choosing to relocate in proximity to the nation’s power brokers have pushed tax revenue up 50 percent over the past decade. D.C. now spends $13 billion a year — more than 15 states — but it still struggles to overcome some typical urban ills. High school graduation rates hover around 50 percent, and a crisis of more than 7,000 homeless people is evident to any resident or visitor.

The question circulating around the offices of District lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s vote is whether the city should continue to pump its rising tax revenue into expanding city services or, with tax rates still much as they were two decades ago to stave off bankruptcy, it should instead return some of that windfall to residents.

The council seemed to answer the question last year when it approved a five-year, $162 million package of tax cuts. The first wave of relief went mostly to families making less than $60,000 a year.

[Will
you get a D.C. tax refund?
]

But with rumblings that new, liberal members of the council and Bowser may try to stall or even kill the remainder of the cuts, Mendelson inserted a little-noticed provision into a spending bill last month to speed up and lock in a second phase of tax cuts, including controversial ones for the wealthy.

Under Mendelson’s plan, an expected uptick in city revenue would be earmarked for tax cuts, and the city’s middle- and high-income earners could see refunds next April instead of later, in 2017, under the plan the council approved last year.

Bowser said Mendelson is risking money that may be needed next year for D.C. schools or affordable housing, and she has touched off a firestorm on the council by suggesting that Mendelson has used subterfuge with colleagues to get his plan this far.

“I don’t know that there was any discussion — any debate” about accelerating the tax cuts, Bowser said in a meeting with council members last week. After the meeting, a spokeswoman for the mayor issued a statement saying Bowser did not support “arbitrarily accelerating tax cuts for upper-income earners without any discussion and ahead of existing spending pressures for schools, public safety, transportation and other critical investments.”

The pending cuts, first proposed by an independent tax review commission last year, would create a lower tax bracket for D.C. residents making $350,000 to $1 million a year. The city also would lower tax rates for its 43,000 businesses, eventually equaling franchise taxes in neighboring Maryland. And over two years, the District would lower the estate tax to the same as the federal government, beginning by doubling to $2 million the threshold for collecting inheritance taxes.

Mendelson charged repeatedly last week that Bowser was ignoring the fact that his fast-track plan also would accelerate further tax cuts for those making $40,000 to $60,000 a year. He said that by labeling the tax cuts as being for high-income earners, Bowser was distorting the aim of the overall package. According to one study, the plan would by 2020 make the District’s tax code more progressive than that in any of the 50 states.

The chairman also questioned the mayor’s commitment to carrying out the remainder of the cuts, saying he can only surmise that by trying to delay them, her intent is to ultimately subvert all or part of the package — which she voted for last year when she was a member of the council.

“What else could be her aim?” Mendelson asked.

Bowser denied that. Pressed by reporters last week on whether she was seeking changes to the tax package, she said she was not, and she committed to implementing the cuts on the schedule the council approved last year. She said the issue is with accelerating the cuts and the possibility that that could tie her hands on $50 million or more in possible spending next year.

The episode has exposed a fault line not only between Bowser and Mendelson, but also between the council chairman and a freshman class of five new lawmakers, many of whom are closely aligned with Bowser.

The council chairman traditionally has immense sway over the District’s final budget, and last year Mendelson made his tax-cut plan public only the night before lawmakers voted to approve it. This year, the acceleration of those cuts was included in a budget bill he released a day before the council’s first vote.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, aides to the mayor last week were using the issue as a wedge, between the chairman and new members as well as those up for reelection.

Some new council members, such as Elissa Silverman ­­(I-At Large), a former advocate for the poor, are unapologetically more liberal than Mendelson and in need of a little convincing.

“My self-interest is in seeing those who need the relief the most get it,” Silverman said last week, questioning whether the timing, and perhaps the content, of the tax package should be reopened for debate.

All of that has left Mendelson, a Democrat who cut his teeth as a tenant advocate in the 1970s and has been a hero of progressives for much of the past two decades, working doubly hard to prevent a rare coup to push back the tax cuts, including those for the wealthy.

Mendelson said he’s intent on the council not reneging on the vote it took last year to cut taxes for everyone.

He also doesn’t see himself at odds with Democrats nationally, saying the dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats on the issue doesn’t apply, given the District’s vibrant local economy.

“We’re notching down our high tax rates and balancing the budget, and we can do it all at the same time because our revenues are growing faster than forecasted,” he said. “That’s not the formula in the national debate.”

Mendelson, however, also laces in some rationale that doesn’t sound like the party line. He doesn’t like the city spending its way out of every problem, he said, including the District’s increasingly high cost of housing. Bowser allocated $100 million to underwrite construction of affordable housing next year. Mendelson said some of the money should be left to residents to best figure out how to pay for their own housing.

“This is another way to address affordability. I don’t think that’s spin,” Mendelson said. “We can spend a lot of money on subsidizing affordable housing, but we can also reduce the tax burden on individuals so the city becomes a little more affordable. I would argue that we should do both.”

Ed Lazere, a tax commission member and head of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, which advocates for low- and middle-
income residents, sees it differently.

Since the District is implementing the tax commission’s overhaul in pieces, he said, each cut needs to be weighed against the city’s needs at the time. Mendelson’s accelerated plan, he said, “would put tax cuts ahead of everything else.”

Gerry Widdicombe, executive director of the tax commission, said that he hoped Bowser and Mendelson could work out their differences and that he took Bowser at her word that she intends to still implement the cuts. But moving forward with cuts as soon as there is money to do so, as Mendelson has proposed, would be best, Widdicombe said. “Continuing with the tax cuts is clearly what the commission intended. Steady as she goes would be the ideal thing.”

Mendelson said he doesn’t fear Bowser’s criticism or that his reputation will be damaged.

“I’ve got too long a record on this issue,” he said. The criticism “won’t stick.”

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.

A Crowded Field and a Green Team Alliance Could Keep Yvette Alexander in Office

A Crowded Field and a Green Team Alliance Could Keep Yvette Alexander in Office

Posted by Will Sommer, City Paper, on June 25, 2015 at 9:15 am

It’s summer in the District when the temperature shoots up, the D.C. Council’s recess looms, and Muriel Bowser and Attorney General Karl Racine can’t even scrap convincingly. It’s a time when LL’s mind turns to next year’s primaries.

Consider Ward 7, where incumbent Yvette Alexander is facing challengers and some not-so-crazy rumors about who else will take her on.

Alexander will face her third re-election bid since being elected in a 2007 special election, but insists she isn’t worried.

“There’s no race,” Alexander says.

Some of Alexander’s constituents wish there were.

“I think some of the older residents are looking for a candidate to go up against Yvette,” says Gary Butler, a Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioner unhappy with Alexander.

Alexander already has two challengers, and the ward’s dissatisfied wags are looking around for more—including, potentially, disgraced former Council Chairman Kwame Brown. Thanks to all those candidates and a new alliance with Bowser’s Green Team (and the mayoral fundraising apparatus that comes with it), though, Alexander may well have reason to relax.

Any candidate hoping to challenge Alexander has to straddle both the ward’s willingness to oust incumbents and the gap between her comparatively well-off Hillcrest neighborhood and poorer areas like Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave. So far, Alexander has been able to ride that divide, thanks in part to Hillcrest’s status as one of the District’s highest-turnout precincts.

“It’s like two wards,” says pollster Ron Lester. “It’s like part Ward 4 and part Ward 8.”

Alexander’s most significant challenger so far is Ed Potillo, a D.C. Democratic State Committee bigwig. So far, Potillo’s campaign has run quietly, with a few hits accusing Alexander of missing economic opportunities (the still moribund Skyland site ranks high with Alexander detractors).

Potillo campaign manager Cinque Culver tells LL that the exploratory committee managed to raise $15,000 in three weeks. (It’s not clear how much total money Potillo has, since the campaign hasn’t yet had to report its latest figures to the Office of Campaign Finance.)

Potillo’s biggest problem may not be Alexander. Instead, come June 2016, he could find himself splitting the anti-incumbent vote with the hordes of longshot candidates who turn out whenever a seat on the Council is available.

“It’s going to be an interesting dynamic, but Ed is just staying interested on serving the people of Ward 7,” Culver says.

Check out these rumors, though: Vince Gray administration D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has long been considered a potential Alexander challenger. Alexander didn’t exactly hide her concerns about Ellerbe last year, when she tweeted that Ellerbe’s visits to Ward 7 were “things that make you go hmmmm!”

Ellerbe didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment, and Alexander claimed last year that he had promised to support her in her re-election bid. And there’s one other reason Ellerbe might want to stay out of the race: his embattled term running DCFEMS. As chief, Ellerbe lasted an improbably long time in the face of labor strife, lengthy response times, and combusting ambulances.

Former Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies doesn’t see how Ellerbe could run against Alexander without getting eviscerated over his DCFEMS record during debates. Thies recalls the 2012 Ward 7 race, when Alexander asked challenger Kevin Chavous Jr. in a debate about his arrest for soliciting a prostitute. Thies says that Alexander’s cheerfulness (she dressed as Nicki Minaj at the Wilson Building for Halloween, complete with a pink wig) belies someone willing to slip her rivals a “dagger.”

“She’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Thies says. “That affable appearance—do not underestimate her.”

But Alexander’s other rumored rival could make Ellerbe look like a candidate to run the ethics board. LL can’t believe he’s writing this, but somebody wants Kwame Brown to run. Brown, also a Hillcrest resident, resigned as Council chairman in 2012 over campaign finance and loan violations. Then there’s the black-on-black Lincoln Navigator, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in unaccounted-for campaign funds.

‘He’s a guy who got a slap on the wrist when he probably could’ve been pounded with a hammer,” Thies says.

Despite all that, though, WUSA9 reports that Brown will appear at a meet and greet this weekend. There’s other, more tangible support for Brown in the form of yellow “Draft Kwame Brown” flyers handed out recently in the ward, although no official draft committee has been registered for Brown at OCF.

“The quiet chatter is he wants to be involved again,” Butler says.

Brown didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment. In November, Brown told LL that if he was going to tell anyone about his future plans, it wouldn’t be LL.

Brown and everyone else hoping to get into the seat is probably SOL, though, because Alexander has managed to cozy up to the Green Team, the most significant force in Council races these days. Alexander took her Council seat thanks in part to an endorsement from Gray, whom she replaced on the Council, and she endorsed his mayoral re-election campaign just hours after he declared his candidacy.

Ordinarily, that would put her on the wrong side of Bowser, who flexed her fundraising and organizational powers in April by putting former campaign aides in two Council seats. Since last year, though, Alexander has avoided antagonizing the mayor. That means Bowser and the business types willing to put max contributions behind whoever she wants aren’t motivated to back a challenger in the ward.

“She was a Gray supporter,” Thies says. “But within minutes of the election results being known she arrived in Bowsertown.”

Despite rumors of challengers, Alexander denies that there’s anyone more exciting than her in the race.

“The interesting name is Yvette Alexander,” she says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

BREAKING: Supreme Court upholds subsidies in King v. Burwell

BREAKING: Supreme Court upholds subsidies in King v. Burwell

By Lisa Schencker, Modern Healthcare | June 25, 2015

Insurance premium subsidies will continue to flow to Americans in all states under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court decided 6-3 in King v. Burwell on Monday.

The justices sided with the Obama administration in the historic decision, saying the healthcare law allows Americans in all states—not just those that established their own exchanges—to receive the subsidies.

An estimated 6.4 million Americans receive the subsidies in the 34 states that don’t have their own exchanges, in many cases relying on them to afford their health insurance, according to HHS.

Many had worried a decision in the opposite direction would lead to a dramatic spike in the nation’s uninsured and the disintegration of the healthcare law itself.

The challengers in the case pointed to one part of the law that says subsidies are available only to those who enroll through an “exchange established by the state.” The federal government, however, argued that the law’s purpose is clear in allowing Americans in every state to be eligible for subsidies and that other parts of the law indicate that.

The Internal Revenue Service has interpreted the law to allow subsidies in all states, but the four individual plaintiffs in the case said that interpretation was wrong. The Supreme Court disagreed with those plaintiffs Monday.

Last summer, a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Virginia unanimously ruled in favor of the administration in King v. Burwell, saying subsidies should be allowed in all 50 states.

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