- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

The wife of Sen. George Allen has resigned her seat on the board of directors of Virginia’s largest utility ahead of Mr. Allen’s landing a post on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Susan Allen’s membership on the Dominion Resources Inc. board and the annual stipend of at least $55,000 the power company pays each of its directors had raised conflict-of-interest questions about the Virginia Republican’s proposed committee assignment.

“As of today, I submitted my resignation based on George’s new leadership position with the Energy Committee,” Mrs. Allen said in a telephone interview last week.

Mr. Allen for years has advocated greater use of domestic oil, gas, coal and other energy reserves to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil. That includes opening areas of Alaskan wilderness to oil exploration, a measure that environmentalists have fiercely opposed.

When Mrs. Allen secured her seat on Dominion’s board in 2003, watchdog organizations suggested that the energy giant was attempting to curry influence with her husband.

Besides the cash Dominion board members receive for their service, they are also compensated in stock. Mrs. Allen said she had not yet decided whether she will sell her Dominion shares.

Dominion is among of Virginia’s most influential campaign benefactors. Since 1999, the Dominion Political Action Committee has contributed $13,000 directly to Mr. Allen, including $5,000 in 2004, according to reports on the Federal Election Commission Web site.

Mr. Allen, a popular former governor, was elected to the Senate in 2000, denying Democrat Charles S. Robb re-election to a third term. Mr. Allen is up for re-election next year.

• Apples for soldiers

Nearly 700 pounds of Maryland apples began a cross-country trip last week with a congressional delegation that is thanking U.S. service members for their wartime service.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican who represents Western Maryland, said he will distribute the plump Fuji apples to troops returning from or deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to some who are recovering from battlefield wounds.

The approximately 1,300 apples were packed in bubble wrap inside 15 white cardboard boxes that were loaded onto a pickup truck owned by Bartlett aide Bud Otis. The fruit was to fly on the same plane with members of the House Armed Services Committee.

The delegation left Thursday on a 2-day trip that was to include stops at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Fort Bliss, Texas, Bartlett spokeswoman Lisa Wright said.

• Kilgore running

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore has submitted the paperwork that formally establishes his campaign for governor.

Mr. Kilgore, facing only a token challenge for the Republican nomination this year, filed his statement of organization last Monday with the State Board of Elections.

The filing sets up his candidate committee for the Nov. 8 election.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, Mr. Kilgore’s presumptive Democratic opponent, has not yet filed his statement.

• Barry miffed

Marion Barry’s first D.C. Council vote was a “no.”

It didn’t do much good, though. The majority of the council voted to reshuffle committee assignments.

Mr. Barry and the other two new members did not get coveted chairmanships when the vote was taken after their swearing-in Jan. 2.

The Ward 8 Democrat tried to argue that he, Vincent Gray of Ward 7 and at-large member Kwame Brown were being singled out for the areas they represent. But council Chairman Linda W. Cropp disagreed, saying freshmen usually don’t get the top jobs.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Gray voted in favor of the assignments. Vincent B. Orange of Ward 5 was the only other member to vote against them. Other council members say he wanted to chair the Economic Development Committee.

More than half of the council’s nine committees changed hands under Mrs. Cropp’s proposal.

Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said it has taken him six years to chair a committee. He had little sympathy for Mr. Barry.

“I said, ‘Welcome to our lives,’” Mr. Graham told the Associated Press.

• Raises downgraded

Following public outcry about its initial recommendations and a ruling from the Delaware attorney general, a state panel on Wednesday toned down its proposals to boost the salaries of Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and other government officials.

Members of the Delaware Compensation Commission agreed to limit proposed raises for government officials to no more than 20 percent of their current pay, a limitation already spelled out in state law.

Under one of several revisions the panel made Wednesday, Lt. Gov. John Carney’s salary is expected to increase about 13 percent, from $64,900 to about $73,000.

The commission initially had proposed hiking the lieutenant governor’s salary by 56 percent to $101,588, saying the job, which consists primarily of presiding over the Senate and state Board of Pardons, had evolved into a full-time position.

The panel plans to ask lawmakers this week to pass legislation increasing Mrs. Minner’s salary to $165,000, which would be about 10 percent more than the new salaries to be received by her highest-paid Cabinet members and would make her the nation’s fourth-highest-paid governor.

• Goodbye, chief

People in the one-stoplight settlement of Rising Sun, Md., want an explanation about why police Chief George Walker was abruptly forced by the town to resign after 21 years with the police force.

Mr. Walker’s ouster came as a shock to many longtime residents of this Cecil County town of 2,000. Even as town officials search for a replacement, some residents have hired a lawyer in hope of getting him reinstated.

Many of the ex-chief’s supporters blame the new mayor, Judith Cox, who wants to build nearly 700 homes. That could double the town’s population. Mr. Walker has opposed the plan.

Miss Cox and other town officials won’t discuss the chief’s ouster. “It was a personnel issue, and we do not discuss personnel issues,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

The town cites a state law that lets employers fire certain workers without disclosing a reason.

But many say Mr. Walker and the mayor weren’t getting along. Mr. Walker opposes the rapid growth of the town he has lived in all his life — growth that Miss Cox tirelessly defends. Currently, 283 homes are being built, and an additional 394 are planned for the town.

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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