- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brrrrr!

A House subcommittee had planned yesterday to ask this question: “Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?”

Problem was, the Energy and Commerce energy and air quality subcommittee discussion was “postponed indefinitely” because of “inclement weather” as Washington braced for an ice storm.

The news was pointed out by climate-change skeptics and was a lead headline on the Drudge Report. The hearing has not been rescheduled.

Franken for Senate

Comedian Al Franken said yesterday that he will run for the Senate from Minnesota in 2008, challenging Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Mr. Franken made his announcement on the final day of his radio show on Air America. The decision by the former “Saturday Night Live” performer instantly makes him a serious contender and brings national attention to the race, the Associated Press reports.

“Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I’m ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I’m asking you to give me,” Mr. Franken said in a video on his Web site.

“I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously.”

Mr. Franken’s name is well-known, and he is likely to be well-funded, but he’s expected to be challenged by several other Democrats, including wealthy trial lawyer Mike Ciresi.

Business as usual

A mayor whose administration is under federal investigation. An alderman who just got hit with a federal bribery charge. Four politicians who served time for corruption and want their old jobs back.

All are candidates in this month’s municipal elections in Chicago, a city legendary for graft.

At the top of the Feb. 27 ballot is Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is running for a sixth term amid a corruption investigation.

Federal officials have nailed dozens of people, including Mr. Daley’s former patronage chief and a former city clerk, in an investigation that started with bribes paid to city officials for trucking work and expanded into a broad look at City Hall hiring practices. The mayor has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Mr. Daley blames the wrongdoing on a “few bad apples” and is expected to sail to re-election against two lesser-known political figures who have tried to make an issue of the corruption, the Associated Press reports.

As for the City Council candidates, Alderman Arenda Troutman, who represents a ward on the South Side, was charged in January with taking a $5,000 payoff to help a bogus developer move forward on a building project. Federal agents had to break a window at her home to arrest her after she refused to let them inside.

Miss Troutman, who has asserted her innocence, does not have to resign her seat while she deals with the charges, but would lose it if convicted. She faces two challengers.

Meanwhile, four former aldermen who were convicted of graft want their old jobs back.

Three of them — Ambrosio Medrano, Virgil Jones and Percy Giles — were snared in the federal government’s Operation Silver Shovel investigation in the 1990s. The fourth, Wallace Davis Jr., was convicted of taking bribes and extortion in a separate federal probe in the 1980s.

Sit-in target

Anti-war advocacy groups will continue their agitation today in favor of cutting off funds for the Iraq war or President Bush’s troop surge, reports Jon Ward of The Washington Times.

Kevin Zeese, an anti-war activist from Maryland, is planning a sit-in outside Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s office to protest the Maryland Democrat’s votes to continue funding the war, even though she voted against the war in 2002.

“Senator Mikulski cannot be against this war and continue to vote to fund this war,” said Mr. Zeese, director of Democracy Rising.

Mr. Zeese ran for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat last fall on the Green Party ticket.

Voting ‘present’

“Finally and officially, Barack Obama is running for president,” Nathan Gonzales writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“His symbolic announcement, in the Land of Lincoln, called for a new era in politics. Obama downplayed his thin federal experience while championing his record on the state and local level, and he talked about the need to change Washington, set priorities, and ‘make hard choices.’ ” said Mr. Gonzales, who is political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

” ‘What’s stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions,’ Obama said in his announcement speech. But a closer look at the presidential candidate’s record in the Illinois [General Assembly] reveals something seemingly contradictory: a number of occasions when Obama avoided making hard choices.

“While some conservatives and Republicans surely will harp on what they call his ‘liberal record,’ highlighting applicable votes to support their case, it’s Obama’s history of voting ‘present’ in Springfield — even on some of the most controversial and politically explosive issues of the day — that raises questions that he will need to answer. Voting ‘present’ is one of three options in the Illinois legislature (along with ‘yes’ and ‘no’), but it’s almost never an option for the occupant of the Oval Office.”

Overexposed

A former congressman from Pennsylvania was accused yesterday of exposing himself to two women at a beach resort in Sanibel, Fla.

Joseph M. McDade, 75, was issued a summons on a charge of exposure of sexual organs, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A court date was not set.

Calls to Mr. McDade’s Fairfax home and to the Washington lobbying firm where he works were not returned, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. McDade, a Republican, served in the House from 1963 to 1999. He did not seek re-election in 1998. He was indicted in 1992 on charges he accepted gifts from defense companies for helping them win lucrative contracts. He was found not guilty by a jury in 1996.

Reagan debate

Former first lady Nancy Reagan said yesterday that she was inviting the leading Republican candidates to the first-ever debate at her husband’s library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library plans to host the debate on May 3. It will feature questions submitted through a Web site.

“Ronnie always hoped the library would be a place where policy-makers will debate the future,” Mrs. Reagan said. “This presidential debate provides the opportunity to fulfill his wishes.”

The debate will be moderated by MSNBC and aired on the cable news channel, the Associated Press reports.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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