- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

RACE

Clyburn rues reluctant spenders

COLUMBIA, S.C. | The highest-ranking black congressman says opposition to the federal stimulus package by Southern governors is “a slap in the face of African-Americans.”

Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said Thursday he was insulted when the Republican governors of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina said they might not accept some of the money from the $787 billion stimulus package. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would accept the money.

Mr. Clyburn said he was trying to protect black Americans when he added a provision to the stimulus package that would let state lawmakers override governors who oppose it.

Mr. Clyburn’s spokeswoman later said he didn’t mean that he thought those governors were racially motivated, but rejecting it would hurt large black populations in their states.

TEACHERS

Education chief calls stimulus a job saver

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economic stimulus plan will help avert thousands of teacher layoffs, and he released the first estimates of where the money will go.

Mr. Duncan visited a charter school Thursday in New York, where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said state budget cuts might force layoffs of 14,000 teachers. Nationwide, nearly 600,000 teaching jobs are at risk.

“Can you imagine if class sizes go from 25 to 40, what that would mean to our students?” Mr. Duncan asked. “It is so critically important that in these tough times, we keep teachers teaching and keep students learning.”

The Obama administration has no estimate of exactly how many jobs the stimulus will save, but Mr. Duncan said it is hundreds of thousands.

The stimulus will spend about $100 billion on education. New York should get nearly $4.8 billion under the bill, and about $1.9 billion of that should go to New York City, he said.

CIA

Panetta stresses Langley continuity

Leon Panetta took the oath of office as director of the CIA on Thursday, promising to provide President Obama independent judgment and “the very best intelligence,” free of politics.

Mr. Panetta emphasized continuity at a ceremony at CIA headquarters in Langley attended by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“As I’ve told a number of people, I’ve got the A-Team here at the CIA,” Mr. Panetta said.

He thanked Steve Kappes, the agency’s second in command, who held key positions during much of the post-Sept. 11 period, for staying on.

“All the professional staff are, I think, the best people that I’ve ever known in a working capacity,” Mr. Panetta said, cheered on by an audience drawn in part from staff at the agency.

CHICAGO

Black pastors plan to abandon Burris

CHICAGO | A Chicago minister told the Associated Press he and other black pastors who previously supported Sen. Roland W. Burris now plan to ask him to resign.

The minister spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because a meeting with Mr. Burris hadn’t yet been scheduled.

Many of the city’s black pastors supported seating Mr. Burris because of his scandal-free reputation - even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich after the governor was arrested.

But revelations that Mr. Burris attempted to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich while seeking the Senate job have eroded some of his support. Mr. Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell the Senate appointment.

MEDIA

New York Times, lobbyist settle suit

RICHMOND | A Washington lobbyist has settled her $27 million defamation lawsuit against the New York Times over a story involving then-presidential candidate John McCain, both sides disclosed Thursday.

The newspaper is not paying any money to end the case, but agreed to let the lobbyist’s lawyers make a statement on the Times’ Web site.

The newspaper also plans to print a “note to readers” in Friday’s editions explaining that it did not intend to imply that the lobbyist and Mr. McCain had an affair.

Vicki L. Iseman had sued the Times in December, charging that the newspaper and several of its reporters and editors damaged her reputation by printing the Feb. 21, 2008, story. Ms. Iseman had represented telecommunications companies before the Senate commerce committee, which Mr. McCain chaired, and the Times reported that McCain aides once worried that the relationship between the two had turned romantic.

SENATE

GOP reportedly recruiting Pataki

ALBANY, N.Y. | The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has approached former New York Gov. George Pataki about running for the U.S. Senate in 2010, according to a person who spoke to Mr. Pataki about the private meeting.

The person confirmed Tuesday’s meeting in New York City between Mr. Pataki and Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who heads the committee. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment.

Mr. Pataki, now in private law practice, had not accepted or rejected the idea, the person said. He would face Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed on Jan. 23 to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton when Mrs. Clinton became President Obama’s secretary of state.

Mr. Pataki didn’t respond to a request for comment at his law office.

HOUSING

Cash targets homelessness

In the coming months, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will oversee at least a tenfold increase in spending on programs designed to prevent homelessness, officials said Thursday.

Tucked within the economic stimulus bill recently signed by President Obama was $1.5 billion to help families pay rent, make a security deposit, pay utilities and cover other housing expenses.

Federal officials have estimated that the stimulus funding could prevent 300,000 families or individuals from becoming homeless.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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