- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2011

Maryland officials gathered last week in Montgomery County to celebrate a new education partnership between Montgomery College and Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications.

But County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett offered some biting criticism for the cable media giant.

Dignitaries including Gov. Martin O’Malley, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Discovery CEO David Zaslav praised the academic program, in which Discovery — which owns several cable networks and airs such hit programs as “MythBusters,” “Dirty Jobs” and the ever-popular Shark Week — will provide career training and internships to Montgomery College students.

Mr. Leggett also touted the partnership, but ribbed Discovery for its failure during this year’s Shark Week to include Chompie — the giant inflatable shark whose head and fins have in past years adorned the facade of the company’s towering Silver Spring headquarters.

Chompie, who previously appeared on the building in 2006 and 2010, was “given a rest” this year according to Discovery officials, much to the disappointment of many visitors and county residents — including Mr. Leggett.

“With all of the training you’re going to provide, I hope you can train someone to put the shark back on your building next year,” he said.

Monumental week

Mayor Vincent C. Gray says the District just had “perhaps the most unusual week” in its history, starting with a 5.8-magnitude earthquake before eyes turned to weather maps tracking a hurricane up the East Coast.

As if broken cathedral spires and cracks in school walls weren’t enough, officials had to put off the unveiling of the prized Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial as Hurricane Irene threatened to pound the region with wind and rain.

The run-up to the event forced national and local figures to play nice, at least in the public eye, even as congressional rules forced the District to keep its honorary Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive street signs off federal land.

Yet D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown threw one more wrench in the mix Thursday.

He praised the MLK Memorial and, in a simultaneous bout of local-federal friction over memorials, supported Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s objection to a pair of congressional bills that would rename the District of Columbia World War I Memorial in West Potomac Park.

He said the bills, which would rename the site as the District of Columbia and National World War I Memorial, are an affront to the city as it attempts to gain full voting rights on Capitol Hill.

“The District’s was the first war memorial to be erected in West Potomac Park and is the only local memorial on the National Mall,” Mr. Brown said. “We ought not stand by idly and allow our history to be diluted.”

Kaine: I don’t agree with Obama — or my wife — on everything

Republicans have been tripping over themselves to tie former Virginia Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine to his friend — and former boss — President Obama as the race for retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb’s seat in Virginia heats up.

But Mr. Kaine last week, while saying that he does continue to support the president, did offer at least one measure of departure from Mr. Obama.

“The president is a friend and I’m a supporter. He’s doing a good job under very tough circumstances. You know, we don’t agree on everything. I don’t agree with my wife on everything,” he said on WAMU-FM Radio’s “The Politics Hour.”

“I think with respect to Libya I think he laid out a good rationale — the events of the week have been very, very hopeful — but I think more formal consultation and putting Congress on the record about that. I think Congress should be on the record when we’re committing American troops into military activities.

“If there’s an initial emergency, if we’re protecting American soil, you can wait to do it, but generally, Congress should have to go on the record on those things and that’s something I’m going to be a stickler about when I go into Congress,” he added.

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