- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pity the Anacostia River. The waterway gets less attention than its D.C. partner, the Potomac, and usually serves as a dividing line for discourse on the haves and have-nots in the District or as a poster child for polluted waterways.

So when someone reported an odd sheen on the water’s surface, stretching several miles northeast from the 11th Street Bridge, it seemed like yet another black eye for the maligned river.

The mysterious appearance prompted a flurry of media coverage and sampling by the D.C. fire department, which found a positive result for petroleum or, in bureaucrat-speak, “a petroleum-based substance.”

Even Mayor Vincent C. Gray chimed in with an official statement: “I am very concerned about this petroleum-based substance that has been identified on the Anacostia River. Anything that poses a threat to the overall health and welfare of our citizens and our wildlife is of great concern to me and deserves immediate attention.”

Then the Coast Guard spoiled everything (well, made it all better). Their round of tests could not find any oil, concluding the sheen had been created by silt that had churned up to the surface.

So pity the Anacostia River — even its silt looks and smells like petroleum.

Best wishes

Two weeks ago in this space we discussed early poll numbers that show Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II ahead of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination for Virginia governor in 2013.

Mr. Cuccinelli leads Mr. Bolling 45 percent to 21 percent and, not surprisingly, 56 percent to 15 percent among those who described themselves as “very conservative.”

So when word got out last week that Mr. Cuccinelli was considering a run in 2014 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Mark R. Warner, it came as little surprise that one of the first people to jump on the Virginia attorney general’s bandwagon was Mr. Bolling.

“Assuming that Sen. Warner decides to run again for U.S. Senate, we’re going to need a strong candidate to run against him,” Mr. Bolling said. “I think the attorney general would be a strong candidate. A lot of the issues he’s very passionate about right now are, frankly, issues that involve the federal government and making sure the federal government adheres to constitutional limitation, so I think that would be a good role for him, if that’s what he chooses to do. But that’s his decision.”

Indeed it is.

‘New endeavors’

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown announced Friday that his chief of staff, Nicole Streeter, has left his office under good terms to pursue “new endeavors.”

Mr. Brown said he is seeking a replacement while his legislative director, Megan Vahey, serves as acting chief of staff.

“Nicole Streeter served as an important part of the transition of my at-large office to the Office of the Chairman,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “She lent her valuable support to me and the District of Columbia during her tenure. I am thankful for her service and wish her all the best in her new endeavors.”

Ms. Streeter’s departure adds to a mounting list of personnel changes this year in key city offices.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has yet to name a permanent chief of staff after Gerri Mason Hall was fired from the position in March amid accusations of nepotism in the executive’s hiring practices. Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice, was named the acting chief of staff.

The mayor’s spokeswoman, Linda Wharton-Boyd, declined to comment on whether the mayor has picked a new chief of staff and a deputy or if an announcement is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Wednesday appointed Paul E. Stenbjorn as its permanent executive director. Mr. Stenbjorn previously served as the board’s chief technology officer and rose to acting director after Rokey Suleman stepped aside from the top post in July.

The board’s chairman, Togo D. West Jr., announced earlier this month that he, too, is stepping down.

Seems like a lot of turnover to us.

Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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