Democratic voters in Washington, D.C., just gave a decisive vote of no-confidence in Mayor Vincent Gray (D), enmeshed in a federal corruption investigation. In Tuesday's Democratic primary, Gray was defeated by City Council member Muriel Bowser, who earned about 44 percent of the vote in an eight-candidate field; Grey came in second place.
Bowser, who campaigned on fighting corruption and encouraging affordable housing in the nation's increasingly expensive capital, will face fellow City Council member David Catania (I) in November. The District of Columbia has elected the Democratic candidate in every mayoral election since the capital started choosing its chief executive by popular vote in the 1970s. Peter Weber
Unable to reach their congressional representatives the old-fashioned way — by phone, email, and in person — Americans across the country are getting creative.
This week, Republican lawmakers like Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) have faced angry constituents who peppered them with questions about everything from repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Trump's ties to Russia. Some of these representatives might run away from their meetings as fast as humanly possible, but at least they're showing up — the same can't be said for House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and Rep. Paul Cook (Calif.), according to their constituents, who want to know why their congressmen aren't holding town halls or even letting people inside their offices.
In Wisconsin, the residents of Janesville are concerned over Ryan's whereabouts, so much so that they have placed a missing-person's ad in the Lost and Found section of the Madison Craigslist. "We had been planning on having an intervention at his recess town hall meetings, because he seems to be addicted to power, but he fled sometime in and around January 20, 2017, and hasn't been seen since," the ad states. To make sure people know who to look for, they included helpful photos of Ryan lifting weights while donning a backwards hat, a much different look than in this billboard in Wisconsin:
— John Lundin (@johnlundin) February 22, 2017
And last week, after a tussle at Rohrabacher's Huntington Beach office involving activists seeking a town hall meeting, one of his staffers, and a door, the California congressman accused the citizens of being "engaged in political thuggery, pure and simple." Here is an example of said thuggery on a local beach:
— Indivisible OC (@indivisible_oc) February 22, 2017
The search is also on in California's 8th District for Cook, who last appeared at an in-person town hall on Sept. 5, 2013. Anyone with any information is urged to visit www.WhereIsPaulCook.com. Catherine Garcia
— Where Is Paul Cook (@WhereIsPaulCook) February 20, 2017
Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday became the latest Republican lawmaker to face fired-up constituents at a town hall meeting, this time in the conservative stronghold of Springdale, Arkansas.
At least 2,000 people attended the event, with many carrying signs asserting that they were not paid protesters and others chanting "Do your job!" Dozens of people waited in line to ask questions, and Cotton was confronted by constituents like Kati McFarland of Springdale, who told the senator that without the Affordable Care Act, "I will die." Cotton said the Republicans are working on a replacement plan that will keep her covered, but when she pressed for details, Cotton didn't have any. Cotton was also asked to take a closer look at ties between President Trump and his associates and Russia, and one protester carried a banner that read, "If Hillary [Clinton] did this, you would have already locked her up."
It wasn't all combative — one woman praised Cotton and said a majority of residents support him. A majority of the room disagreed, as she was drowned out by boos and jeers. Catherine Garcia
Police in Indiana are hopeful that the public will recognize the man heard in a grainy cellphone video taken by a young murder victim.
Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, disappeared on Feb. 13, and their bodies were found a day later in a wooded area outside Delphi, near the trail they planned to hike. During a press conference Wednesday, Indiana State Police announced there is a $41,000 reward for finding the killer, and played a clip from the video shot by German, featuring a man saying "Down the hill."
"She had the presence of mind to have the phone on and to capture video as well as audio," Capt. David Bursten said. Investigators are not certain if the man heard in the video is the same man seen in a photograph German also snapped from her phone; police say the man in the photo is the main suspect in the murders. Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, the Trump administration reversed a directive issued in May 2016 by former President Barack Obama, which said transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms at public schools that match their gender identity if it differs from their birth sex.
Obama's guidance was not legally binding, but advocates said it was needed to protect transgender students from being discriminated against. The Justice and Education departments sent letters to schools on Wednesday saying the earlier directive led to confusion and lawsuits, but anti-bullying measures won't be affected. Now, states and school districts will decide if federal anti-discrimination laws apply to gender identity. Catherine Garcia
Thousands of emails made public on Wednesday by an Oklahoma judge show that Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, had close relationships with oil and gas producers and electric and fossil fuel companies, as well as political groups backed by the Koch brothers, while serving as the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma.
Pruitt sued the Obama administration's EPA 14 times during his tenure, and emails show that his office worked with these companies to put together drafts of letters for Pruitt to sign, seeking to stop new regulations. One email sent to Pruitt from an executive at the Koch-supported Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, thanked him and his bosses for all they did "to push back against President Obama's EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states." Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate 52-46 on Friday, despite protests from Democrats and environmentalists. The emails were released as part of a lawsuit filed against Pruitt by the liberal watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy. Catherine Garcia
During an unannounced visit Wednesday to the recently vandalized Jewish cemetery in University City, Missouri, Vice President Mike Pence declared there is "no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism." More than a hundred tombstones were damaged or toppled over the weekend at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery, located just outside of St. Louis, part of a trend of increasing acts of anti-Semitism across the nation.
"We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those that perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms," Pence said, noting the vandalism is a "sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate." Pence was in Missouri on Wednesday for a meeting with executives at a Fabick Cat plant.
The vice president's condemnation of anti-Semitism came just a day after President Trump vowed the "horrible" and "painful" anti-Semitic threats are "going to stop."
Catch a snippet of Pence's remarks below. Becca Stanek
— CNN (@CNN) February 22, 2017
Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers revealed Wednesday on CBS This Morning. "He's changed the way we listen to music, he's changed the way we have fun, the way that we cry," Rodgers said, calling Jay Z a "revolutionary."
The 21-time Grammy winner is in the 2017 class of inductees alongside Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Max Martin, Robert Lamm, James Pankow, and Peter Cetera. Madonna, George Michael, and Cat Stevens were among the nominated artists who didn't make the cut.
Jay Z — known for hits like "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," "Empire State of Mind," and "Big Pimpin'," as well as for being married to Beyoncé — was reportedly "so over the moon" about his induction. "He was flipping out, he was going crazy," said Hall of Fame President Linda Moran.
Artists become eligible for the Hall of Fame 20 years after their first hit; Jay Z's first was his 1996 album Reasonable Doubt. Though Jay Z was nominated last year, he wasn't selected. "To be honest with you, last year we talked about it a lot," Moran told The New York Times. "Our board and community wasn't ready. This year we felt that they had been educated enough."
The induction ceremony is slated for June 15 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Becca Stanek