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WaPo's McCartney: 9/11 Anniversary Threat, Gray Aide Resigns, Health Care Lawsuit

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The D.C. region is prepping for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 Sunday, while at the same time, law enforcement and cleanup crews try to manage the deluge that has affected the region this week. Washington Post metro columnist Robert McCartney talked with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey about the top stories in the region.

The city's emergency preparedness

Authorities are investigating what's been called a "credible but unconfirmed" terrorist threat to the New York or Washington regions for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Leading up to the anniversary, McCartney has been researching just how far the D.C. area has come in its emergency preparedness since that day. 

"The region's made some real improvements in some ways, but there's still a remarkable and i would say worrisome amount of unfinished business," McCartney says.

Improvements include upgraded equipment such as new communications systems and bomb disposal robots. But there's been no resolution of some very big questions, says McCartney, such as who decides for the region as a whole whether to evacuate the city -- and how that would take place. 

"Basically all they've agreed to do is set up a conference call to talk about it," he says. "And there's no established procedure to for how to tell the public what they should do." 

Resignation of mayor's deputy chief of staff

In addition to severe flooding, this week also brought the resignation of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's newly hired deputy chief of staff, Andrea Pringle. Pringle resigned after a watchdog group uncovered the fact that she had voted in District while living in Maryland. 

The resignation points a recurring theme, says McCartney: poor vetting of potential staff. It was also yet another embarrassment for the continually troubled administration. "It spoiled his effort to get off to a strong positive start this fall and sort of reboot his administration after having so many troubles when he first came in," McCartney says of the mayor. 

Virginia's Health Care Lawsuit 

Thursday also brought the news that a judge had thrown out the state of Virginia's lawsuit against the federal government on President Obama's healthcare overhaul. One University of Richmond legal scholar told McCartney that even the loss is a win for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The suit, scholars say, is more about Cuccinelli's status as a political figure, according to McCartney. "He wins all this applause and national attention, especially from the Tea Party end of the Republican Party, for suing the federal government," McCartney says.

The ruling itself didn't say anything significant about the individual mandate for all Americans to have health insurances, points out McCartney; instead, it shot down that Cuccinelli's argument that he had to file this suit because of a law passed in the Virginia Assembly repudiating the health care law.

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