- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

Congressional harvest

As Congress prepares to grapple with government regulation of alcohol sales, so do the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, who today will name Craig Wolfe, counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch for the past 18 months, as its general counsel.

If that's not enough vintage to swallow, David Sloane, legislative director and deputy chief of staff to Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican (and prior to that for his father, the late Sen. John H. Chafee), was hired by the association last week as senior vice president of government affairs.

New direction

Federal Communications Commission employees returned to work last week to find waiting on their desks "Ethicsgram 2000" 14 guiding principles of public service that govern the standards of employee conduct, left there by the FCC's Office of General Counsel.

"For our first Ethicsgram of the new millennium [sic], we thought it would be beneficial to set forth the principles that form the basis for the Standards of Employee Conduct … and the advice we provide in response to your questions," writes General Counsel Christopher J. Wright.

The very first principle reads: "Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws and ethical principles above private gain."

Send in the clowns

If you thought Stan Bromley who departs his post today as general manager of Washington's Four Seasons Hotel for a similar suite in San Francisco was antically blessed, wait until James McBride comes to town.

The hotelier of the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who will become general manager of Washington's newest, soon-to-open Ritz-Carlton, makes Mr. Bromley look like an instructor in impassiveness.

To drum up business, Mr. McBride is known to place his car-phone number in newspaper ads so he can personally accept reservations, and recently led a string trio through the streets of Singapore that is, until police arrived to chase him and his merry band of revelers off the streets.

Disengaged nation

While there's been an unprecedented number of presidential debates in recent weeks, fewer people especially the young are tuning in.

"In particular, young people ages 18 to 30 increasingly are opting out of our political process," warns John Dervin of Youth Vote 2000, which at the National Press Club this week will call on the presidential candidates and the Commission on Presidential Debates to hold a youth presidential debate.

"As youth become disengaged, politicians and campaigns have decided not to target them because they believe they will not vote," he says. "This is a dangerous trend with grave consequences for our democracy: we are becoming a country of non-voters."

No margin of error

Matthew Carson is proof that a plush office, large salaries and high-paying clients aren't required to conduct a poll.

The Washingtonian's first-ever "Poor Boys Poll" was conducted between 6 and 7 p.m. Friday at the corner of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue NW, where passers-by were asked whether the Internet should be regulated by the federal government.

Poor Boys Polls will be conducted on different Washington street corners every Friday, with results easily posted by midnight, not days or weeks later.

As for federal government regulation of the Internet, Mr. Carson polled 114 persons, garnering 43 in favor and 71 against.

Babies wanted

A baby shortage in America?

Yes, warns Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, who says the U.S. Census Bureau's special Compendium for the Millennium raises concerns about America's future because of the rapidly falling birthrate.

At the turn of the last century, the United States had a population of 76 million, and the average life span was 47. As the population boomed over the past century, so did life spans. Today, Americans number 270 million, while the average life span is 77.

But American family size has shrunk, adds Mr. Mosher, from 4.8 persons at the turn of the century to a "remarkably low" 2.6 persons in 1996.

"We are no longer having enough children to replace ourselves," he says. "For the first time in American history, our nation is faced with the very real prospect of population decline."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week released 1997 figures showing that the number of reported abortions in America is also dropping: 1,184,758 in 1997, which is the lowest annual figure the CDC has reported in the last 20 years.

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