'GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON': Among the reports - Chris Brown bodyguard trial begins; Spending flap in the District; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.
SHAD PLANKING: Silly business as usual, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "It should come as no surprise that Virginia's first political rite of spring was a bit slimy, smelly and salty. But enough about the shad. The politicians who turned out Wednesday most notably Sen. Mark R. Warner D-Va., and Republican front-runner Ed Gillespie kept it clean and cordial, using the occasion of the 66th Annual Shad Planking to press the flesh with locals and the political classes assembled in the woods for free beer, fish and a good cause.
"Warner, the former governor who is seeking a second Senate term, was the keynote speaker at the outdoor event, which raised roughly $20,000 for Wakefield-area charities, recreation programs and first responders. The prime billing did not stop Gillespie, the former RNC money man and first-time candidate, from making a splash with his own legions of T-shirted acolytes roaming the grounds or vending upscale lager in exchange for an email address." http://bit.ly/1jMoB4V
MEANWHILE: In the real world, per the Virginian Pilot, "Republican leaders in Virginia's House of Delegates sought to land the political equivalent of a triple axel on a conference call held Tuesday to offer a fresh dose of Medicaid rhetoric. They condeded Medicaid expansion "probably is germane" to Virginia's budget; affirmed their resolve to block it; and blamed Democrats for a potential government shutdown over it, stretching to link U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to the partisan mess blocking a state budget deal.
"None of it moved the General Assembly closer to compromise on the $96 billion for the two-year period starting July 1 that's now more than one month overdue, however. State lawmakers hopelessly divided over accepting federal funds so thousands of low-income Virginians can obtain subsidized health care left Richmond March 8 without approving budget legislation." http://bit.ly/RmIlmo
CROPS GET FOOLED: Or something like that, per the Baltimore Sun, "The long, cold winter was good to farmers and gardeners as frigid temperatures and blankets of snow helped kill pests and moisten soil. So when spring arrived, early bloomers surged to life. Then came plunging temperatures, frost and even snow Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"The winter already almost certainly means Marylanders will have to wait a few weeks longer than normal for a peach cake or strawberry shortcake topped with local produce. Now farmers are nervously waiting to learn whether two late-season frosts could damage or kill significant portions of blooming plum and peach trees, which are flowering now and particularly vulnerable to cold." http://bsun.md/1l63PkF
DISTRICT BUDGET FLAP: And a legal showdown, per the Washington Post, "The D.C. Council will sue Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the city's chief financial officer, the council chairman said Wednesday, setting up the first such legal showdown between the city's two branches of government in a decade. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said the council will ask a D.C. Superior Court judge to determine whether Gray (D) and CFO Jeffrey S. DeWitt are violating a voter-approved law that allows the city to spend billions of dollars of its own money without strict congressional approval.
"Under the measure approved last year which was signed by Gray and passed a congressional review period the District no longer needs to submit its budget to the president and Congress for approval. The process left the city vulnerable to national politics and often complicated its financial planning. Now, the budget would pass the council, just as any other city legislation, and it would take effect unless Congress voted to reject it and the president agreed." http://wapo.st/1eChZXB
UKRAINE: The latest, per the Los Angeles Times, "Ukraine National Guard forces killed three, wounded 13 and detained 63 armed militants who attacked their unit in the port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on the Azov Sea, an official said. The armed gang that attacked the unit late Wednesday numbered about 300, Arsen Avakov, acting Interior Minister, wrote on his Facebook account Thursday." http://lat.ms/1ndiSsm
DIABETES RESEARCH: Just the facts, per the New York Times, "Federal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades.
"The biggest declines were in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010, the period studied. While researchers had had patchy indications that outcomes were improving for diabetic patients in recent years, the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, documents startling gains." http://nyti.ms/1l50pi7
CANTOR AND POTUS: Was there a hangup?, per The Hill, "President Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to prod Republicans to bring up immigration reform, but the conversation apparently did not go well.
"Cantor issued a blistering statement afterward, criticizing Obama for calling him just after delivering what he called "a partisan statement" that indicated "no desire to work together" on immigration, a top priority for Obama that House Republicans have largely ignored." http://bit.ly/1qLYCxh
POLITICO PLAY: "Elizabeth Warren was "hurt" and "angry" about attacks on her family and ancestry in the 2012 Senate race, she writes in a new book, defending at length her characterization of her background as rooted in Native American ancestry.
"Warren, the first-term Massachusetts Democratic senator, details her campaign to unseat former GOP Sen. Scott Brown in the book "A Fighting Chance." POLITICO obtained an early copy of the book, which is set to be released on April 22." http://politi.co/1gCOQHl
ORANGE BALLOON: Or not, per City Paper, "Smith Special Productions makes giant parade balloons, and lots of them. The Williamsport, Pa., company tends toward cartoon animals like "Tally Ho the Toucan" and "Icee the Shy Little Penguin." But District taxpayers got gasbags with a little more gravitas from the company on Wednesday, thanks to $15,120 from the D.C. Council.
"The balloons, featuring figures like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks, floated above the festivities at Wednesday's Emancipation Day parade. Even though Smith Special made nine balloons, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans joked a week earlier at a Council breakfast that a helium-filled version of one Emancipation Day figure had been overlooked: At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange." http://bit.ly/1hN2pYW
WINTER DOUGH: And creative accounting, per Gazette.Net, "With the last of the winter storms apparently behind them, some Prince George's County municipalities are surveying the damage incurred to their bank accounts. This winter, Laurel spent almost twice what it budgeted for ice and snow removal, which means funds slated for things like road maintenance could be used to cover those costs.
"During upcoming meetings, Laurel officials will consider an ordinance that would balance the $93,000 deficit in the snow and ice budget using some unanticipated state funds from vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, said Michele Saylor, director of Laurel's department of budget and personnel services. Paul McCullagh, Laurel public works director, said these state funds were not accounted for in the original 2014 budget and are considered additional funds that often go toward projects like road repairs." http://bit.ly/1eMnL9w
PUB CRAWLS: And the police, per ARLnow, "The number and popularity of bar crawls in Arlington has increased, and it's caught the attention of the Arlington County Police Department and county government.
"At the Arlington County Board's budget mark-up meeting Wednesday afternoon, the County Board approved an addition $42,000 to the police specifically for "pub crawl support." Pub crawls in Clarendon, Courthouse and Ballston have drawn crowds close to 5,000-6,000 people, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said." http://bit.ly/P7bz6F
TRICKLE DOWN: Well, maybe, per the Frederick News-Post, "Political types with more than $10,000 burning a hole in their pockets can now lavish their extra cash on Frederick County candidates thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The high court this month held that it is unconstitutional to cap the cumulative amount an individual can contribute in elections, a ruling anticipated to have a far-reaching effect on national politics. While some say removing the contribution caps encourages a form of political expression, government accountability groups argue the ruling will enable special interests to tighten their grip on decision-makers." http://bit.ly/1qNDqXO
SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Nationals beat Miami 6-3; Wizards beat Boston 118-102.
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: "Physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill? A Maryland gubernatorial candidate would like to see this be made law. What do you think? http://wj.la/1mdIuTn
NEWSTALK: Among today's topics (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) -- Tips for allergy sufferers from Laura Bender of the American Lung Association.