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Top Stories With Washington Post Columnist Robert McCartney

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Hearings on the hiring practices in the Gray administration continued this week. McCartney said the hearings were a "terribly embarrassing portrait of missteps" for the administration.

"There were just numerous examples where there was inadequate vetting," said McCartney. "Well-known instances of apparent nepotism, and little to no effort to try and hold down salaries."

One example he gave was that of Rochelle Webb, who was hired and then ousted as director of the District's employment services agency. Webb was earning $90,000 in her previous job in Arizona. She asked for a salary of $150,000 when she was recruited to run the agency. When she arrived, Webb was "surprised and delighted" when her salary got bumped to $165,000.

"And then of course you've got the most embarrassing hiring misstep of all, which was of Sulaimon Brown," said McCartney. "There are four different groups now investigating his allegations that he was promised a job and then slipped money in exchange for attacking Adrian Fenty, then the incumbent in last year’s campaign."

McCartney said Brown was "once again erratic and perplexing" during this week's hearings, which he thinks hurts his credibility.

The other news McCartney discussed was the looming government shutdown. The focus right now is on the immediate impact of the shutdown, and he said that right now is just the start of what is likely to be a series of struggles about the federal spending at least through the 2012 election.

"I think what we need to be watching is what's the long-term impact for the D.C. region of this ongoing struggle," said McCartney. "There are several spending programs that we can all really identify that are of particular interest to the D.C. region that are vulnerable in this process. Now tops on that list is the D.C. spending on abortion for low-income women. This is one of the social policy issues that's currently holding up the deal. And I think D.C. might have a hard time hanging on to this."

McCartney said the funding has only existed in it's current form for two years, and it's tempting for the Democrats to yield on this to pacify the Republican majority in the house because it only affects the District. And we can see that pattern with some other D.C. social policy issues, such as medical marijuana and gun control.

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