DAYBREAK DAILY: 'Plantation politics' alleged by Va. Black Caucus

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GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON: Continuing coverage of heavy overnight rains with updates on flooding and road closings, plus Super Bowl news from New Orleans, beginning at 4:30 a.m.

VIRGINIA REDISTRICTING: It’s kind of in a holding pattern, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Leaders of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus (have) rallied against a surprise redistricting change approved by Senate Republicans, accusing the GOP of “plantation politics.” Meantime, the House of Delegates pushed off action on the Senate redistricting changes until Thursday. Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, said on the House floor that the Senate amendments “are being reviewed.”

MEANWHILE: Of conflicting motives, per the Washington Post, “At least two black House Democrats say they might vote for the GOP’s surprise Virginia Senate redistricting plan, a move that could make it easier for Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and House Speaker William J. Howell to find their way out of a sticky political quandary. Dels. Onzlee Ware (Roanoke) and Rosalyn R. Dance (Petersburg) told The Washington Post on Wednesday that they are considering the plan, which would create a new majority-black district in Southside but also disperse black voting power in at least eight other districts.”

GUN MONEY: Or something like that, per the Virginian-Pilot, “The Republican leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates headed off an up-or-down vote Wednesday on a controversial measure aimed at undermining any new federal gun-control legislation. Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), charged that the maneuver was a transparent attempt to sweep his bill under the rug without a recorded vote. “Someone accepted 30 pieces of silver,” he said.”

SITUATION SYRIA: Just the facts, per the New York Times, “Israeli warplanes carried out a strike deep inside Syrian territory on Wednesday, American officials reported, saying they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry on the outskirts of Damascus that was intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon.”

FLINGS DENIED: This is an odd one, per the Los Angeles Times, “Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a key player in the effort to overhaul immigration laws, denied allegations that he consorted with prostitutes during trips to the Dominican Republic with a longtime friend and campaign donor whose South Florida office was raided by the FBI.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Gabrielle Giffords spoke for just over a minute at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with a plea for Congress to get its act together on gun violence. With her focused delivery and simple message, she set the tone for what came next: a four-hour hearing marked by a distinct lack of drama, fighting or a conclusion.”

SPEND THE MONEY: One man’s opinion, per the Washington Examiner, “Less than 48 hours after D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray unveiled a $417 million budget surplus, one of his predecessors is demanding the city spend part of it. Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, the city's only four-term mayor, said Wednesday that he wants to require the District to spend $100 million of the 2012 fiscal year's surplus on social services and job training programs.”

ORANGE ALERT: Hospital on call, per the Washington Times, “A key D.C. Council member said Wednesday he will introduce a disapproval resolution related to a questionable $12.7 million contract to overhaul city-owned United Medical Center. D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange, chairman of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, said he hopes to see the contract for the Southeast D.C. hospital — and the city’s local contracting procedures — investigated to root out what he said could be possible fraud and abuse.”

MARYLAND DOINGS: With no shockers, per the Baltimore Sun, “Gov. Martin O’Malley urged the General Assembly on Wednesday to approve an unabashedly liberal agenda that includes repeal of the state’s death penalty, new curbs on guns and spending for construction projects that create jobs.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 92-84 against Philadelphia.

WEIRD: New way to get a cab, per ARLnow, “Hard-driven, high-mileage taxicabs might not seem like a very attractive target for car thieves, but in the past week three have been stolen from the same block of Columbia Pike. Arlington County auto crimes detectives are “actively engaged in” an investigation into the thefts, said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who couldn’t recall any other taxi thefts in Arlington in the past year.”

--Skip Wood

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