- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

On the offensive
D.C. officials, usually on the receiving end of verbal abuse, turned the tables last week, throwing out insults and accusations against organizers of the D.C. Marathon after they canceled the race for security reasons.
On Thursday, Mayor Anthony A. Williams' spokesman, Tony Bullock, called the actions of H2O Management "unconscionable," greedy and selfish. He said, "They were afraid they weren't going to make any money." And he said organizers never consulted the mayor's office before deciding to cancel the event.
On Friday, the onslaught continued with Mr. Williams telling WTOP Radio that the city may take legal action if H20 doesn't make arrangements to refund runners' registration fees for the race, which was to be run yesterday.
But John Stanley, the marathon director, who had enough of the abuse, said he did contact the mayor's office.
"I personally contacted the mayor's faith adviser, the Rev. Carlton N. Pressley he was our only contact at the mayor's office and relayed our concerns to him," Mr. Stanley said.
He said the call went out at 7 p.m. Wednesday. They called back to confirm at 7:30 p.m., and a news release canceling the event was issued at 8 p.m., 90 minutes before bombs started dropping on Iraq.
Mr. Stanley said Mr. Pressley told him, "It was our decision, and that the [mayors] office would back us up on whatever we decided."
Mr. Stanley said from Monday through Wednesday, thousands of runners entered in the marathon were jamming phone lines and flooding his e-mail with security concerns and questions of "can you guarantee my safety?"
"The answer was obviously no," Mr. Stanley said.
Some demands for refunds from H2O Management also were logged. And according to reports Friday, H2O had refused to refund the fees. But Mr. Stanley said he has not even compiled how much his company lost by canceling the race.
"We don't even know. We have paid for stickers, crates, Gatorade, trophies, shirts and other things far in advance," he said.
And a lot of volunteers, 200 to 300, concerned about coming into the city on Sunday, said they would not come, "and without them we don't have a race," Mr. Stanley said.
"I can understand the concerns of the mayor and [D.C. Democratic Delegate] Eleanor Holmes Norton, but I cannot minimize the concern of the runners."
He said any registrants would have an automatic bid in next year's race. But Mr. Bullock indicated that the mayor may not give his support.
Best seat in house
Among the guests for a corporation's dinner at its Richmond headquarters are the mayors of Richmond and Norfolk, the U.S. education secretary, the House of Delegates speaker, a Richmond City Council member and a western Virginia congressman.
Who holds the highest rank?
That answer can be found in "A Guide to Virginia Protocol and Traditions," a newly released and updated code of courtesies and customs that officials can consult when they host dignitaries or hold events.
In this scenario, according to the guide, the order of ranking would be the Richmond mayor, the education secretary, the congressman, the House speaker, the Norfolk mayor and the Richmond City Council member.
The 52-page booklet covers a wide range of protocol, from precedence (ranking of dignitaries in order of importance), the sequence of a receiving line and how to arrange a head table.
It includes how to address the spectrum of notables, such as local, state and national officeholders, judges, diplomats, clergy, the military and foreign officials. Official mourning for state officials, official state portraits and proper flag display are also discussed.
The guide touches on the changing mores of the 21st century, such as proper etiquette for e-mail and examples of invitations when a governor is female and married or the chief executive's spouse has a different last name.
A protocol guide was first compiled in 1977 in the aftermath of the Bicentennial celebration, when the many visiting dignitaries and official functions raised questions regarding protocol and procedure.
The guide was revised a couple of times in the late 1980s. But when copies ran out last year, the state decided it was time for an update, especially with Virginia's 400th anniversary approaching.
"With the Jamestown celebration coming up in 2007, this gives us something to use," House Clerk Bruce F. Jamerson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We're expecting lots of dignitaries in the commonwealth."
Mr. Jamerson, Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar and William H. Leighty, the governor's chief of staff, assembled a knowledgeable group of state employees to work on the booklet beginning last spring.
Among the protocol pointers:
No one outranks a governor in his own state except the president or vice president of the United States.
No one outranks a mayor in his own city or town or the chairman of the board of supervisors in his own county except the state's governor or the U.S. president or vice president.
For seating, spouses of officials take on the rank of their husband or wife.
In a limousine, the right rear seat is the seat of honor.
When several state officials of the same rank from different states are present, their ranking is determined by their state's admission to the Union. Virginia was the 10th state admitted.
Charter chatter
His initiative has lost an arm, a leg and most of its head in the General Assembly, but Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is making sure that when it comes to charter schools, his name is not wiped off the history books.
Last week, the Senate Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee gave his charter schools bill an unfavorable report and passed instead an amended version of a bill sponsored by Democrat Sen. Roy P. Dyson a bill the governor has threatened to veto if it comes to his desk because he considers it weak.
This week the House Ways and Means Committee took its turn at tearing apart the Ehrlich bill that would create multiple chartering authorities.
Not one to accept defeat, Mr. Ehrlich reportedly made some remarkable compromises, and the bill that was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee last week is a spitting image of one written by Delegate John R. Leopold, Anne Arundel County Republican and the Senate version from Mr. Dyson, which the governor has denounced as "weak."
So when did charter schools become about the politicians instead of the children?
Voting record
U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a fifth-term Maryland Democrat and the state's longest-serving senator, has cast his 10,000th vote.
Mr. Sarbanes, 70, is one of 23 senators in history to reach the mark; 12 of them are still serving in the Senate.
He cast the milestone vote Friday on an amendment to the 2004 budget during a daylong series of votes known affectionately in the halls of the Senate as a "vote-a-rama."
"Reaching this historic milestone is just the latest remarkable accomplishment in what has been, by anyone's standards, an incredible American success story," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said to applause from senators and staff on the floor.
Mr. Sarbanes thanked his constituents for having "made it possible for me to be here, and exercising my judgment on important issues that come before us."
According to the Senate Library, he hit the milestone on an amendment offered by Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Delaware Democrat and another member of the 10,000-vote club.
The measure, rejected 52-48, would have shaved $2 billion from President Bush's tax cut proposals to pay for an additional $1 billion in spending for Community-Oriented Policing programs and $1 billion in national debt reduction. Mr. Sarbanes voted "yes."
Walk on by
The House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved legislation Friday to designate walking as the state exercise in Maryland. If it is adopted, Maryland would be the first state to take such a step.
The bill was inspired by a group of third-graders who approached Delegate William A. Bronrott, Montgomery County Democrat, out of their concern about fitness, health and the environment.
"This is not just another state designation," Mr. Bronrott said. "It gets to the heart of the most prevalent and preventable public health problem that needlessly costs precious lives and taxpayer dollars."
The House approved the measure 113-20. It now moves to the Senate.
Maryland already has 17 official symbols, including an official state sport: jousting. No other state has an official state exercise.
Brian DeBose and Vaishali Honowar contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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