Tuesday morning federal headlines – Nov. 6, 2012

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Federal agencies continue to find ways to help people caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The General Services Administration has released a webpage widget that points to sources of shelter, food, medical and financial assistance. The widget is free, and it’s available in English and Spanish. It may be used on both government and private sector websites. The tool also lets individuals wishing to volunteer or make donations find the right channels. GSA is also working with FEMA and the Federal Transit Administration to obtain buses for New York-New Jersey transit routes. (GSA)
  • A licensed marijuana shop in California is suing the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency. It claims they are being too aggressive in cracking down on pot. Courthouse News Service reports federal agents raided No Grey Sky dispensary last month. It’s just the latest sign in a growing battle between the Justice Department and the states over legal medical marijuana dispensaries. U.S. attorneys said they were stepping up enforcement because they were alarmed by the industry’s growth. (Courthouse News)
  • Jon Jordan, the deputy commissioner in the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, has retired. Acting administrator Dan Tangherlini presented Jordan with the Administrator’s Exceptional Service award. Jordan started with GSA in 1974 and spent his entire 38-year career with the agency. He has been deputy commissioner since April. Jordan’s departure kicks off musical chairs. Bill Sisk becomes acting deputy FAS Commissioner. Mike Tyllas takes Sisk’s place as acting assistant commissioner in the Office of General Supplies and Services. (Federal News Radio)
  • FEMA is not giving cash cards to victims of Hurricane Sandy. It’s not paying volunteers $1,000 to go to New York or New Jersey to clean up debris. Those are just two of the rumors about the recovery effort that the agency is trying to squash. FEMA says a lot of misinformation is going around social networks. Other tall tales include stories of FEMA hiring clean up crews in New York and New Jersey, giving out food stamps to residents of those two states and running out of bottled water. The agency says all of those rumors are false. (FEMA)
  • The White House and the State Department are the latest focus of a Congressional probe into agency conference spending. Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is questioning a 2010 state dinner that President Barack Obama threw for his Mexican counterpart. Issa cited a Washington Examiner article estimating the dinner at nearly $1 million. He mentioned it in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Issa said the State Department has not responded to his requests for information on overnight conferences attended by agency staff. (House)
  • A district court has upheld a long-standing ban on political contributions by federal contractors. According to the Venable Law firm, the ruling keeps contractors outside the bounds of the Citizens United case. In that ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed corporations’ rights to make donations. But the District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled against three independent contractors who sued the Federal Election Commission over the Federal Election Compaign Act. Officers and employees of contractors can make contributions, but a person who is the contractor may not. (USCourts.gov)
  • If you’ve actually been waiting until Election Day to vote, you may be able to get some time off from work. The Office of Personnel Management says agency heads have discretion to grant employees excused absence. But OPM said employees should need it in very few circumstances. Your boss can grant it if you’ve got a long commute, or if your polling place is open less than three hours either before or after work, making it hard for you to get there without coming to work late or leaving work early. Virginia polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. In the District and Maryland, they’re open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In West Virginia, they’re open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (chcoc.gov)