DAYBREAK DAILY: Anthony Brown offers mixed messages

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the upper 30s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Rockville’s Montgomery College on alert of threatening message; continued coverage on winter weather; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MIXED MESSAGES: Lt. Gov. Brown’s quandary, per the Baltimore Sun, “As the front-runner in the Democratic race for governor, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown often rallies his supporters as though he were already the incumbent. He touts the past seven years under Gov. Martin O'Malley as "righting the ship" — but then subtly pitches a different vision for Maryland. "We've got to recognize our successes and come clean with the fact that we can do better," Brown said as he opened a campaign office in Prince George's County recently. "It is not enough to say we've got the best schools in the nation unless every child … can access them."

“Brown has offered some proposals that take aim at economic inequality — on Tuesday, for instance, calling for more support to help low-income students close the achievement gap. Last week, he proposed giving taxpayer-funded college loans to immigrants in the country illegally. He has pointed to his work on health enterprise zones, designed to provide better care to poor communities with high rates of illness. But if Brown is indeed fashioning a message of closing the gap between the haves and have-nots in Maryland, he has been vague, political observers say. Even he eschews the notion that inequality would be the focus of his campaign.”

UM, NO THANKS: We’ll see you after this is over, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “A contingent of lawmakers walked off the floor of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Tuesday during presentations honoring the late Harry F. Byrd Jr., who was a Virginia and U.S. senator. The gesture by a group of African-American lawmakers was a silent protest of Byrd’s legacy as an unrepentant segregationist.

“Byrd, who served in the state Senate for 18 years before serving 18 years as a U.S. senator until 1983, died July 30 at age 98. On Tuesday, resolutions were presented in the House and Senate to members of Byrd’s immediate and extended family. Before the Senate ceremony commenced, Sens. Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton; L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth; A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico; and Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, rose from their seats and headed to an anteroom behind the Senate chamber. All but Ebbin are African-American.”

HUH?: This one’s hard to swallow, per the Virginian-Pilot, “A state commission formed a year ago by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell quietly made a surprising recommendation in the fall: Virginia leaders should embrace and even lobby Congress to move forward with a new round of military base closures, a process known commonly as BRAC. The counterintuitive idea - part of a comprehensive strategy for blunting the impact of expected defense cuts - has not earned favor with Gov. Terry McAuliffe or members of the state's congressional delegation, who roundly rejected the idea.

“. . .The report by the 10-member Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities was finalized in October under McDonnell and made public this week by the McAuliffe administration. Led by retired Adm. John Harvey, the commission - which included four Cabinet secretaries - came up with 20 recommendations aimed at strengthening the state's relationship with the military. The commission calculated that Virginia - home to the nation's largest naval base and multiple four-star commands - would actually stand to gain should Congress seek to consolidate military operations at fewer bases. Further, it noted that defense cuts are coming - with or without BRAC - as the Pentagon reconfigures after 13 years of war, and that could lead to downsizing without public input.”

PURPLE (LIFE)LINE: Potentially, anyway, per the Washington Post, “A proposed light-rail Purple Line project has been recommended for $100 million in federal money in the next fiscal year as part of President Obama’s budget released Tuesday, marking a critical financial milestone for what would be the Maryland suburbs’ first direct rail link. Just as significant to the project’s future is that the Purple Line was included on a list of seven large transit projects nationwide that the Federal Transit Administration recommends for a “full funding grant agreement,” a ¬longer-term commitment by the federal government to help pay for the project’s construction.

“The total amount of federal funding recommended for a Purple Line will be released Wednesday, federal officials said. Maryland transit officials are seeking $900 million in federal grants for the project’s $2.2 billion construction costs. The $100 million included in the president’s budget would be allocated in the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.”

UKRAINE: Putin speaks – kind of, “per the New York Times, “He sat alone in an armchair, alternately slouching, his legs spread wide in confidence, and squirming uncomfortably. He displayed flashes of sardonic wit, anger and palpable disdain, especially toward the Americans and Europeans but also toward the leaders of a country, Ukraine, he made clear was a political neophyte, unable to govern itself. He demonstrated his characteristically uncanny grasp of detail in such matters as natural-gas pricing, but contradicted himself at times and wandered off into obscure historical digressions. He made assertions that were clearly exaggerated or, less charitably, clearly not true.

“President Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s paramount leader for more than 14 years, at last broke his studied silence on the political upheaval in Ukraine on Tuesday during a 66-minute news conference that sought to justify Russia’s actions and policies. In the process he offered an unvarnished glimpse into the thinking of the man who, by all accounts, singularly controls those actions. “The only thing we had to do, and we did it, was to enhance the defense of our military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in,” Mr. Putin said, referring to Russia’s longstanding bases affiliated with the Black Sea Fleet, which has its headquarters in the port of Sevastopol in the Crimea region of Ukraine.”

MEANWHILE: The stare-down, per the Los Angeles Times, “As thousands of Russian and Ukrainian troops stare each other down in Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula, the worlds-apart views from Moscow and Washington over the dangerous faceoff suggested Tuesday that a resolution was far from imminent. At the same time, signs emerged from the Kremlin and Kiev that both sides were wary of escalating the crisis, in which one nervous reaction could spark a shooting war.

“U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, during a visit Tuesday to the Ukrainian capital, accused Russia of gun-barrel diplomacy and brutish behavior more befitting the war-racked 19th century. Moscow, he said, has chosen aggression rather than one of the "countless outlets that an organized, structured, decent world has struggled to put together to resolve these differences so we don't see a nation unilaterally invade another nation.”

AND THIS: Shocking assessment – or not, per Roll Call, “Sen. John McCain warned that the United States and Europe should avoid allowing Russia to set a precedent in Ukraine that could be later used for an incursion into Poland. “If Vladimir Putin gets away with saying he’s defending the rights of Russian speaking peoples, that is the same thing — excuse that Hitler used,” the Arizona Republican said, invoking arguments made by Nazi Germany about the ethnic German population of the Sudetenland.

“McCain has long been among the Senate’s most strident critics of Putin, repeatedly criticizing the Obama administration’s views about the Russian president. “There are … Russian-speaking people in Poland. There’s … Russian speaking-people in Romania,” McCain said. “There’s plenty of places where he may feel he has to intervene … on behalf of Russian-speaking people.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Most of President Barack Obama’s budget is dead on arrival with congressional Republicans — but a handful of tax ideas can boast a bipartisan sheen. The tax strategy unveiled in the White House budget is a sharp contrast to the Tax Code overhaul released last week by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). Where the White House raises new funds to cover new education and innovation spending, for instance, Camp relies on tax cuts and funding shifts to spur economic growth.

“But Obama and Camp share a few targets. Common ground exists in a tax on big banks and lower corporate tax rates. Both plans call for the highest earners to shoulder more of the tax burden, though for different reasons. The areas of overlap won’t add up to a glide path to tax reform, with a long-standing disagreement over whether the Tax Code should raise more revenue. But if there is any hope for agreement, these five areas give negotiators a place to begin.”

DECRIMINALIZATION PRIMER: Without further ado, per City Paper, “Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells' bill decriminalizing possession of marijuana possession passed the D.C. Council this afternoon on a 10-1-1 vote. Next it's headed to Mayor Vince Gray, who's expected to sign it. On the macro level, Wells says this should reduce the damage of racially disparate enforcement of the city's marijuana laws. On the micro level, though, getting stoned is now a little more complicated.”

BIG BROTHER: Or something like that, per Gazette.Net, “A new database in Montgomery County Public Schools to track reported allegations of inappropriate staff behavior with students is up and running — and being put to use. About 25 incidents have been entered into the database this school year, according to Robert Grundy, director of the Performance Evaluation and Compliance Unit in the school system’s Human Resources and Development Office.

“One staff member involved in an incident that was reported in the database this year was terminated after he had previously been told not to touch students, Grundy said. Other incidents listed included a teacher who tapped a student on the butt and another who lifted students in the air. Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said in a June memorandum that the school system would use a confidential database as part of its new tracking system for staff members who engage in inappropriate behavior with students.”

MARYLAND AND TRANGENDERS: Just the facts, per the Frederick News-Post, “A bill barring discrimination against transgender individuals in public establishments, housing and employment cleared the Maryland Senate on Tuesday with the backing of one Frederick County lawmaker and opposition from another. The bill gained safe passage through the chamber with support from 32 lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Young. Sen. David Brinkley joined 10 other Republicans and four Democrats in voting against the bill.

“Young, D-District 3, said he voted for the measure as the next step in seeking equal treatment for all Marylanders. Brinkley, R-District 4, said he doesn’t view the bill as a matter of fairness and doesn’t see the need for it. “I just don’t see that it’s a big, burning problem,” he said. But Brian Walker, board chairman for a Frederick organization that provides services to the gay and transgender community, said there is significant interest in the proposal, noting that numerous people testified in support of the bill. Under the proposal, places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, theaters or retail establishments, could not refuse to accommodate transgender individuals.”

HATE GROUP?: SPLC insists the issue is a no-brainer, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “Responding today to news that the Southern Poverty Law Center will be subpoenaed for its file on Loudoun Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), an SPLC spokeswoman said her organization fully intends to stand by its classification of Delgaudio's ultra-conservative advocacy organization as an anti-gay hate group. The SPLC official, Heidi Beirich, would not comment directly on the specifics of the subpoena, but she repeated claims that Delgaudio has consistently attacked and demeaned gays, lesbians and immigrants through the nonprofit group he manages and founded, Public Advocate of the United States.

“The SPLC is an internationally recognized civil rights nonprofit group based in Montogomery, Ala. Charlie King, Delgaudio's attorney, announced Monday he will subpoena the SPLC later this week for information about the group's designation of Public Advocate. King said he is seeking an explanation about the “criteria, research and decision process used to designate Public Advocate a hate group.”

WHAT’S IN A LETTER?: Plenty, per ARLnow, “Some erroneous new signage in the Virginia Square Metro station would have one believe that George Mason University is greatly expanding its local presence beyond Arlington and Fairfax County. The sign correctly labels the station it’s in as “Virginia Sq-GMU” — but then labels the first Orange/Blue Line station in the District of Columbia as “Foggy Bottom-GMU.” Flip the M upside down and you get the correct abbreviation for the institution of higher education in Foggy Bottom, George Washington University.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Attention, pet owners! There's a new alternative to surgically neutering your dogs. It's an injection given under sedation called Zeuterin. Some of the benefits include fewer complications and quicker recovery time.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Sen. Adam Ebbin, who will be asked about the budget impasse in Richmond, brought up by the disagreement over Medicaid expansion.

--Skip Wood

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