- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two interim heads of D.C. agencies have been accused of playing fast and loose with the rules in recent weeks.

Here’s the kicker: Both of them served as general counsel before rising to the top spot at an agency.

Neil A. Stanley’s bid for a promotion to head the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services got a boost from “impactful” supporters at his confirmation hearing, according to council member Jim Graham. Then it was thrown into limbo by questions about his experience and, more importantly, claims that he edited down a job description to help a social acquaintance get a job in the agency.

Over at the D.C. Taxicab Commission, interim Chairman Dena Reed has been accused of prompting the arrest of a journalist who covered a recent meeting. The commission released a statement that says U.S. Park Police made the arrest based on the reporter’s behavior.

D.C. officials are looking into the claims in both agencies. But, really, shouldn’t lawyers know better?

Political shootout

Grab some popcorn and dim the lights. Political guru Larry Sabato this week compared the impending U.S. Senate matchup between Tim Kaine and George Allen to a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western, in which Mr. Allen will try to win back favor post-“macaca” and Mr. Kaine will attempt to erase potentially damaging connections to the national Democratic Party.

Who will be victorious? Not sure, Mr. Sabato said.

Known for his reliable “crystal ball” predictions, the University of Virginia professor released his forecast for the 33 Senate seats up for grabs next year. Virginia is one of six races he says could go either way but most will certainly be influenced by how things are going at the national level.

“This race is a total toss-up at this point and, perhaps in a cinematic twist, the dramatic ending of this film might be decided not by these two gunslingers, but instead by others: namely, [President] Obama and his Republican opponent,” Mr. Sabato wroteon his blog.

Mr. Sabato said the GOP could gain control of the Senate - barely. He thinks it’s likely Republicans pick up three seats, and possibly four or five. But will any races be as exciting as the one in Virginia between two former governors? Not likely.

“Maybe you could call it ‘Once Upon a Time in the Commonwealth,’ because the marquee Senate race in … Virginia is the political version of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western,” he wrote. “While the script is littered with extras - a Leone specialty - at the heart of this story are two political giants in a tug-of-war.”

All good points, but we’re thinking the race will be more akin to “A Fistful of Dollars.”

Business friendly

Maryland Business for Responsive Government, a conservative-leaning business advocacy group, released its annual “Roll Call” report last week, evaluating each of the state’s 188 legislators on the business-friendliness of their voting records during the General Assembly session.

The group, which typically favors lower taxes and fewer regulations, crunched the numbers and - surprise! - rated Republicans much friendlier than Democrats.

Some Republicans receive 100 percent ratings in the study, while virtually all ranked ahead of Democrats. The lowest scores came largely from Democratic strongholds, led by Montgomery County and Baltimore.

“We need to hold Annapolis politicians accountable,” MBRG co-chairman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey said in a statement. “If I were a businessperson looking for a place to locate my business, I’d think leadership in the General Assembly is just tone deaf.”

We’ll keep an eye out for their next study into legislators’ attitudes on gun control and President Obama.

Ready for their close-up

In July, the Prince George’s County Council will begin streaming its weekly meetings live online.

Welcome to the 21st century, Prince George’s County.

Previously, residents either had to make the trek to the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro each Tuesday or tune into delayed broadcasts courtesy of the county’s CTV cable station. Officials finally were able to get the technology in place to enable live streaming of meetings, council Chairwoman Ingrid Turner said.

“The decision to begin live streaming of our sessions was prompted by the council’s continued commitment to be open and transparent in our communications with the citizens we serve,” said Ms. Turner, a Democrat. “We want to keep citizens informed and provide better access to government.”

The first meeting to be streamed live is July 5.

Off the bench?

Jim Riggleman up and quit his job as manager of the Washington Nationals on Thursday, despite the team’s blazing hot performance of late. Officials quickly installed an interim manager, but could anyone already in the District be the right fit for the permanent job?

• Mayor Vincent C. Gray: A baseball prodigy in his youth, he’s batting an impressive .470 with D.C. residents, according to a recent poll.

• MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier: Knows how to form a line-up, but don’t count on easy rides to the airport ahead of road trips.

• Sulaimon Brown: Says Teddy promised him the job for bashing Abe in the Presidents Race

• Danny Meyer: “Shake Shack Stadium” just think of the attendance records.

Tom Howell Jr., Andrea Noble, David Hill and Paige Winfield Cunningham contributed to this report.