D.C. and States Say EPA Violated
Rules on Greenhouse Gas Standards
States’ attorneys argued in D.C. Circuit Court last week that the Environmental Protection Agency violated its own regulations by deciding to downgrade vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards.
The attorneys general for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia have joined in the lawsuit filed against the EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
They were angered when the EPA announced it had re-evaluated greenhouse gas emissions standards approved under the Obama administration and determined they were too strict.
The standards were supposed to gradually decrease the allowed emissions for vehicles in the United States between 2017 and 2025. Automakers complained the standards were unrealistic.
The Trump administration’s EPA agreed with automakers, saying the standards should be frozen at 2020 levels.
Regulatory Agency Revamps Procedures
To Inspect Renovated Historic Buildings
Washington’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is instituting new procedures to ensure historic buildings are protected against “illegal construction” during renovations.
The new procedures were mentioned during a D.C. Council meeting last week by Garrett Whitescarver, the acting head of buildings for the DCRA.
His agency instituted the procedures after revelations that developers of a new interactive language arts museum inside the Franklin School on K Street NW destroyed portions of the building that were supposed to be protected as a National Historic Landmark.
The Franklin School was the city’s first high school when it was built in 1869. Changing key parts of the structure would require a lengthy bureaucratic process that developer Ann Friedman’s employees bypassed by acting without authority.
Under the DCRA’s new procedure, building inspectors plan to make illegal construction inspections of historic structures a regular part of their daily work, instead of an occasional duty. The inspections also will be coordinated with the D.C. Historical Preservation Office.
Friedman has acknowledged her crews’ mistakes and pledged to city officials that the damaged finishes would be restored.
The museum, called Planet Word, is scheduled to open later this year.
Friedman gave an update on the work in a recent blog post, which said, “Right now, the ornate cast-iron handrails, marble-tiled stairways and landings, and other beautiful, historic features of the building are being cleaned and restored. The building contractor, Whiting-Turner, is also preparing to stabilize and replicate the peeling frescoes in the Great Hall and recreate a classroom as it existed in 1869, when the school opened.”
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Letters to the Editor
Prince George’s County Seeks Dismissal
Of Lawsuit by Police Alleging Bias
Prince George’s County officials plan to seek dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 12 police officers who say their department is biased against officers of color.
A new court filing says the lawsuit filed in December in U.S. District Court in Maryland erroneously alleges a “pattern or practice” of bias against non-white officers.
The lawsuit claims officers of color often are denied promotions and suffer retaliation for reporting misconduct by white police officers. The plaintiffs also say they are disciplined more severely and demoted if they complain about bias.
The county acknowledges disputes with some officers but says it does not represent bias based on ethnicity. The plaintiffs are of different races.
Instead, the officers should file lawsuits separately if they believe they have valid complaints, according to a letter from attorneys for Prince George’s County to the federal judge handling the case.
The plaintiffs “assert different types of discrimination and retaliation by different decision makers, at different times, under markedly different circumstances,” the letter from lawyers representing the county says. “Apart from conclusory allegations, Plaintiffs allege no facts showing a policy or statement — formal or informal — of the PGPD that links their claims together.”
One of the plaintiffs who was disciplined had texted a “picture of his genitals to the victim of a domestic violence case he was investigating,” the county said in its letter to the court. Another was investigated for threatening a parking attendant with his gun during a dispute, the letter says.
The police officers filed the lawsuit with support from the ACLU of Maryland and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Trump Political Advisor Argues Against
Gag Order Before His Criminal Trial
Political advisor Roger Stone is setting up a First Amendment free speech challenge during his pre-trial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
He told a federal judge Friday that she had no constitutional right to silence him with a gag order she is considering. He also asked that she be removed from the case.
Stone is charged with lying to Congress about his efforts to publicize information embarrassing to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as well as obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He pleaded not guilty on Feb. 1.
Since being arrested by the FBI on Jan. 25, he has informally argued his innocence in interviews outside courthouses, on cable television and over the Internet.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson warned Stone during the Feb. 1 hearing that he risked tainting the jury pool with his media blitz. Stone has refused to keep quiet, instead hiring lawyers to defend his free speech rights.
Big Referral Fees
For Little Work
Do you know someone who wants to sell a home, office or other real estate?
If you do, you could earn thousands of dollars with a quick phone call or e-mail. The Legal Forum pays a base fee of $1,500 for referrals to sellers’ property that sells for at least $200,000. Each $100,000 of value to the property over $200,000 gives the person making the referral an extra $100. A $700,000 dollar property value, for example, would earn a referral fee of $2,000.
Your only obligation is to phone or e-mail Tom Ramstack with the name, address, phone number or e-mail address of the seller. In most cases, it should take no more than 10 minutes of your time.
For more information, click the Real Estate icon on the menu above or contact Tom Ramstack at 240-421-6395 or e-mail email@example.com.
The referral fees are offered to anyone in the District of Columbia but only real estate licensees in other states. However, non-real estate agents can receive credits equal to the referral fee toward the purchase or sale of property in Virginia and Maryland.
The brokerage for the Legal Forum is Fairfax Realty at 3190 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 100, Falls Church, VA 22042, phone: (703) 533-8660.
D.C. Turns Over Gun Cases
To Federal Prosecutors
Washington’s mayor announced a program last week to drive down gun violence by prosecuting the cases in federal court instead of D.C. Superior Court.
The U.S. Attorney’s office predicted the new initiative could double the number of repeat offender gun cases prosecuted in the District of Columbia.
The program is a response to a 40 percent increase in homicides last year to 160.
U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu said, “This strategy will enable us to leverage local and federal law enforcement resources throughout the District from the ground level up, giving us an opportunity from the very start of a case to try to find out where these firearms are coming from, how they’re being used and what we can do to prevent further violence.”
Most of the federal prosecutions would be for “felon-in-possession” gun cases likely to result in longer prison terms than defendants would receive in D.C. Superior Court, U.S. attorney officials said.
Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises
A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
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