DAYBREAK DAILY: Amid AG recount, problems for Va. voting machines

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the low 50s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – President Obama to address Affordable Care Act issues at the White House; Minimum wage debate moves forward in D.C.; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

TROUBLE FOR HERRING?: Stay tuned, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “State elections officials expressed concern Monday that some of the voting equipment used in November balloting is outdated and does not meet requirements under state law. Don Palmer, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said at a board meeting that some of the voting machines are not able to flag overvotes or undervotes, which would allow those ballots to be inspected manually.

“Republican Mark D. Obenshain hopes that the proper count of such ballots in the upcoming recount will sway the election result of the attorney general’s race, in which Democrat Mark R. Herring was certified the winner by 165 votes. An undervote would be one in which a selection would be made in at least one race, but not others. Overvotes include ballots in which two candidates were originally marked for a race, but one was crossed out.”

MR. MAYOR: Of promises, per the Baltimore Sun, “Minutes after being sworn in as the new mayor of Annapolis on Monday, Mike Pantelides vowed to be a watchdog on city finances, and also to work on issues facing the state capital from crime to a sluggish business climate. In his inauguration speech at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Pantelides offered few specifics on those broad issues, but did promise to hold open sessions once a month to listen to concerns of Annapolis residents, and repeated a refrain from his campaign, that "God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason" — saying people should spend twice as much time listening as talking.

“Pantelides, a 30-year-old Republican, unseated incumbent Democrat Josh Cohen, 40, in an election that went all the way to absentee and provisional ballots. Pantelides squeaked out a 59-vote victory. He said he'll scrutinize the city budget, work with leaders of other levels of government and focus on expanding and promoting existing businesses in the state capital.”

MEANWHILE: Making things official in D.C., per City Paper, “It’s taken D.C. Mayor Vince Gray months and months to decide whether to run for re-election. But it only took seconds for Chuck Thies—local political consultant, commentator, and prolific Twitter provocateur—to decide whether he would manage the campaign. "I told him that I am a soldier in his army," says Thies, who learned of Gray's plans yesterday.

“As for the still-ongoing investigation into Gray's 2010 campaign, Thies, who was in the running to manage that campaign as well, reiterated Gray's position that the mayor did nothing wrong. Still, Thies says he'll make sure that whatever campaign staff is brought on—Thies says he doesn't know yet who the campaign chairperson and treasurer will be—will be well-versed in Hatch Act rules about separating governing from campaigning. "We understand that this will be a highly scrutinized campaign," says Thies.”

SALVATION ARMY INDEED: Of a lost weekend, per the Washington Post, “Customers dashed in and out of the Safeway near the Waterfront Metro station at a steady clip during Monday’s lunch hour, and every so often, one paused to slip a few bills or coins into the Salvation Army’s familiar red kettle. . . It was a typical December scene on an atypical December day. Showell and his fellow workers were busy trying to make up for a lost weekend after the charity’s office in Anacostia was broken into early Sunday, with an estimated $10,000 taken from a safe and from 11 kettles pried open with a crowbar.”

OFF THE RAILS: Speed a factor, per the New York Times, “The Metro-North Railroad train that hurtled off the rails on a sleepy holiday weekend morning was traveling 82 miles per hour as it approached one of the sharpest curves in the region’s rail system, federal investigators said on Monday — nearly three times the speed permitted through the turn.

“The throttle was still engaged — giving the engine power — until six seconds before the locomotive, in the rear of the train, came to a stop around 7:20 a.m. Sunday after the train careered toward the Harlem River, killing four people and injuring more than 70, north of Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, officials said.”

PAUL WALKER: Despite death, more movies on the way, per the Los Angeles Daily News, “Fans of the late Paul Walker will still be able to see the actor in several upcoming films. Walker was on Thanksgiving break from shooting “Fast & Furious 7” in Atlanta when the Porsche he was riding in crashed in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Universal Studios, which releases the popular car racing franchise, was not commenting Monday on the status of the shoot, but it is believed that the sequel is about halfway through production.

“Discussions about rewrites and working the remainder of the shoot around Walker’s absence are reportedly underway. The film had been scheduled for a July 11, 2014 release. Two other movies that the actor had completed should come out before then.”

OBAMACARE: In defense of, per The Hill, “President Obama will hold an event Tuesday touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, as the White House looks to reset public perception of the embattled healthcare law following two months of repairs to the glitchy ObamaCare website.

“The president’s event at 2:30 p.m. will look to refocus attention on areas where the law has succeeded, while selling the public on signing up for coverage despite headlines dominated by the technical glitches and messaging errors that have defined the launch of the president's signature policy initiative.”

POLITICO PLAY: “House and Senate negotiators are pushing to finalize a small-scale deal to set spending levels and replace sequester cuts for the next two years, a potential respite in the bitter budget wars consuming Congress.

“The two congressional budget leaders — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — are considering a plan that would give relief to some of the domestic and defense programs most burdened by the sequester through 2015 by replacing those cuts with budgetary savings in other areas, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. New revenue through fee increases — not tax hikes — is likely.”

SHORT-TIMERS: That’s the plan, per the Frederick News-Post, “Maryland Delegate Michael Hough says he wants his fellow state lawmakers to limit their own terms so part-time legislators don't turn into career politicians. When the Maryland General Assembly convenes in January, Hough will push to bar state lawmakers from serving more than three terms in the Senate and three in the House of Delegates. Capping length of service would shake up the "ruling class" that now controls the legislative process in Annapolis, he believes.”

EASTERN SHORE FIRES: And facing the consequences, per the Virginian-Pilot, “A grand jury indicted Tonya S. Bundick on 62 counts of arson Monday, a month after her co-defendant admitted taking part in the Eastern Shore arson spree. The charges were handed down Monday afternoon, said Samuel Cooper, Accomack County clerk of court.

“Bundick, 40, was already facing one count of arson and one count of conspiring with Charles R. Smith, 38, a former volunteer firefighter. On Oct. 31, Smith pleaded guilty to starting 67 fires on the Eastern Shore between November 2012 and this April and implicated Bundick, his fiancee. He faces a maximum of more than 500 years in prison. No one was hurt in the fires.”

WLL PELE BE THERE?: Just asking, per Gazette.Net, “At least two Maryland businesses plan to expand operations in Brazil, according to information from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s trade mission to the South American country this week. O’Malley (D) and a group of 30 business and education leaders on Sunday began a nine-day trade mission to Brazil that aims to strengthen the trade relationship between the two nations. He also will stop by El Salvador, which has strong cultural ties to Maryland.”

HASH OIL: Deadly accident in Southwest Virginia, per the Roanoke Times, “A Radford University student who died after a suspected butane hash oil explosion was able to speak to officers when they arrived on scene, according to a search warrant filed in the city’s circuit court. Ryan Christopher Koon, 20, of Salem died Thursday, a little more than a week after he was seriously burned in the fire in Radford. He had been flown to the burn unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Nov. 21, officials said.

“Emergency crews responded late Nov. 20 to the 300 block of Fourth Avenue, and upon arrival, Radford police Sgt. Drew Szerokman found Koon with second- and third-degree burns “on the majority of his body,” according to the warrant. Szerokman asked Koon what happened inside the residence, and Koon replied that he was attempting to make butane hash oil, “and it ignited causing an explosion,” the warrant stated.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Orlando 98-80.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Well known for its shops, restaurants, and bars, Dupont Circle is now at the center of a sex crime investigation after a 25-year-old woman reported to police she was grabbed and raped behind a building along Connecticut Avenue early Sunday morning. According to the police report it happened behind the building at 1300 Connecticut Ave. at the corner of N St. NW.”

NEWSTALK: 10 a.m., NewsChannel 8.

--Skip Wood