News & Politics

Guest List: Today’s Newsmakers

The Washingtonians in headlines today we’d like to have dinner with tonight

About Guest List

Guest List is Washingtonian’s monthly roundup of the fantasy cast we’d like to see for dinner this month.

• Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick. Education Week just named Maryland’s public schools the best in the country—for the third year in a row. Virginia followed closely in fourth place for the second year in a row, behind New York and Massachusetts. DC, by contrast? Up from dead last in 2010 to second-from-the-bottom this year.

• California Republican Congressman Dan Lungren. The House Administration Committee, which Lungren chairs, has already taken steps to cut members’ budgets by five percent to keep pace with the new majority’s focus on fiscal austerity. Now, with debates about Congressional safety heating up, Lungren and his committee, which oversees security for the House, will play a key role in determining how to keep members interacting with their constituents in a new era of anxiety. Lungren has already called for members to work more closely with their local police departments and a review of the Capitol Police.

New Ardeo + Bardeo chef Nate Garyantes. It’s interesting to see José Andrés’s influence in Washington’s dining scene: Garyantes is a vet of both Café Atlántico and Minibar, and Mike Isabella—who until recently ran Andrés’s Zaytinya—is expected to open his own venture, Graffiato, this spring. Garyantes is an Army veteran as well, a good qualification to be a tough kitchen boss.

• Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley. The state has had to curtail access to a program that provides HIV drugs to poor patients and limit the list of medications the program covers because funding is limited, and the recession means more patients need help. Sixty-four percent of Virginia’s HIV-positive residents lack health insurance, and the number of state residents with HIV is up 44 percent since 2000. What will it take to keep HIV patients healthy at a time when fewer of them can afford the drugs they need? Even though HIV infections are a growing problem in Virginia, the state is better off than its neighbors. In 2008—the last year for which data are available—Virginia had 1,036 HIV diagnoses; Maryland had 2,579; and DC, with the smallest population, had 950.

• Whoever is behind O: A Presidential Novel. Not because we think the novel itself is going to be fascinating—what’s the big reveal going to be, that the Obamas argue over Michelle’s clothing budget? That the kids are secret budding Republicans? That the Prez still sneaks cigarettes off White House grounds? But whoever wrote the novel knows that you don’t have to deliver, you just have to sell the damn thing, and he or she, and Simon & Schuster, are doing a masterful job of just that.

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