- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Snow job

The blinding blizzard that buried the nation's capital beneath thigh-high snowdrifts three weeks ago has yet to thaw around the desk of Janice R. Lachance, director of the Office of Personnel Management, who was in Iowa campaigning for Vice President Al Gore when the storm struck.
Ms. Lachance made headlines from here to the North Pole by waiting until 7 a.m. long after many bureaucrats had left home to shut down the federal government. Now we see she still has some explaining to do.
In accordance with his responsibility to oversee matters affecting the federal work force, Rep. Joe Scarborough, chairman of the House Government Reform civil service subcommittee, has ordered Ms. Lachance to provide Congress with material under authority of House Rules X and XI.
"Unlike nearby local governments, the federal government did not act quickly enough to protect the safety of our federal workers," the Florida Republican scolded Ms. Lachance in a letter obtained by this column. "The safety of many of our federal workers was put in jeopardy unnecessarily."
The congressman gave Ms. Lachance until the close of business last Friday to answer 10 questions, as well as produce "transcripts," "minutes," "recordings of any conference calls," "notes," "memos," "e-mails," "or other documents" relating to her being out of town campaigning during the snowstorm.
The chairman received a response letter from Ms. LaChance late yesterday, and had not yet reviewed it as of last night.
Mr. Scarborough also wants to know if Ms. Lachance offered her services to any other politicians while punching the taxpayer time clock.
"Please identify all candidates for federal elective office for which you have participated in campaign activities since January 1, 1999 to present," says the congressman, asking who paid for such "travel or other expenses," and "the nature and amount of the expenses paid by that person or entity."

Audrey meets John

Congressional reporters have survived week one of the five-week experiment.
We're referring to a new handicapped stall being installed in the women's restroom in the Senate Press Gallery, overlooking the floor of the U.S. Senate. Until such time construction is complete, girl reporters are rubbing shoulders with the boys.
OK, not quite.
"I made Elaine Povich go in with me, it was really scary," says one lady scribe, referring to Newsday's reporter. "It was real clean. We were very impressed."
The first two stalls in the lavatory are reserved for the girls, who sometimes number in the dozens. Adjacent stalls further to the rear are used by the boys. "Because the urinals are in the back," the woman explains.
"That way we can't see them."
One U.S. Capitol policeman waited patiently outside the restroom for two women to re-emerge before ducking in to do his duty.
"I just can't get used to this," he said.

Mandatory awareness

Bureaucrats who don't care to attend a pair of upcoming "Diversity Awareness" seminars had better have a good excuse for the director of the Office of Pollution and Toxics at the Environmental Protection Agency.
"If you do not think that you would benefit from attending this diversity-awareness program or if you have a conflict in your schedule, please convey your reason(s) to your supervisor and to me personally via e-mail well in advance of the two dates below to receive an excusal," writes William H. Sanders III in a memo to staff.
"I am asking the leadership team to assure that all of their staff members attend one of these sessions."

Lawbakers

Don't ask us why, but the top chefs in the U.S. Senate are all Republican men.
Approached by the March of Dimes to be celebrity chefs, eight senators agreed, each a Republican. They will participate in an hors d'oeuvre baking competition to benefit a "Gourmet Gala" at the National Building Museum.
Chefs include Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Spencer Abraham of Michigan, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Conrad Burns of Montana, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and Frank H. Murkowski of Alaska.
In the House, Republicans and Democrats and even a few women will compete, including House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, John D. Dingell of Michigan, Robert T. Matsui of California, and John Tanner of Tennessee, all Democrats; and Republicans Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama, Herbert H. Bateman of Virginia, and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin.

Grass poll

Leave it to Briggs & Stratton, lawn-care specialists, to develop a presidential grass poll to determine the "Most Likely to Go Dormant in the Fall," the "Most Liberal Use of Lawn Ornaments," and who is simply "the Perennial Candidate."

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