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Top Stories With Washington Post Columnist Robert McCartney

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An offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. Pending legislation in Maryland would build wind farms off the coast of Ocean City.
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An offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. Pending legislation in Maryland would build wind farms off the coast of Ocean City.

D.C.: Hearings On Gray Administration's Hiring Practices

D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh will be chairing hearings starting next week about the hiring practices of Mayor Vincent Gray's administration. McCartney says the hearings will be an opportunity for the public to hear from the key players involved in the recent hiring controversies, particularly the one surrounding Sulaimon Brown. Brown was the minor candidate for mayor who alleges that Gray offered him a job and gave him money to attack then incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Gray administration denies the allegations.

Monday's hearing, McCartney says, will include mostly current administration officials who were involved in Brown's hiring. Brown and the two people he alleges gave him money are expected to testify at the second hearing, which will probably happen the following week.

Cheh told McCartney Thursday that chairing the committee is just part of her job and has nothing to do with who she supported during the mayoral campaign. Her constituents in Ward 3, however, "overwhelmingly supported Fenty over Gray," McCartney says.

McCartney says he thinks it "would get her in trouble" if she didn't hold the hearings because "then it would look like she was protecting Gray."

Virginia: Gov. McDonnell Vetoes Physical Education Bill

Gov. Bob McDonnell is vetoing a bill that would require students from kindergarten through eighth grade to get 150 minutes of physical education each week. McCartney wrote a column in favor of the bill for The Post on March 12.

That bill had convincing wins in both houses of the General Assembly.

"I think it went through so easily because there's just so much concern and interest right now about childhood obesity...kids not getting enough exercise, bad eating habits," McCartney says. "But once it passed, the opposition really stepped up its efforts and tried to get McDonnell, successfully, to veto it."

The coalition against the bill consisted of both Republicans, who oppose unfunded mandates, and those traditionally aligned with Democrats, who worried about costs and stretching school resources.

Maryland: Wind Power Bill Faces Uncertain Future

With a couple weeks left in Maryland's legislative session, support for Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to develop to offshore wind farms appears to be wavering.

He says the main opposition to the governor's plan is the cost, not the concept of wind power. The plan would mean an initial increase on electric bills.

On Wednesday, O'Malley passed an amendment that would limit the amount the bills could increase to $2 a month.

If the plan does not move forward, despite the amendment, McCartney says that could be a huge blow to O'Malley's environmental agenda. Wind power is one of two main environmental initiatives -– the other being a ban on old septic tank technology, which now looks dead.

"If he doesn't get wind power," McCartney says, "he's 0 for 2."

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