- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2000

New invention

Weary air travelers will be interested to learn that the rise in air-traffic delays over the past five years is yet another of Vice President Al Gore's inventions.
That's the word from Stephen A. Baker, vice president of the Federal Managers Association's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Conference.
Mr. Baker is now telling Congress that the rapid rise in airline delays between 1995 and 1999 is "tied directly to the decrease in management oversight and staff reductions" recommended by Mr. Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government.
"Since 1995, the FAA has earmarked on an initiative to improve the agency's efficiency following the recommendations of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review to move to a 15-to-1 employee-to-supervisor ratio throughout the federal government," Mr. Baker has testified to the House Aviation subcommittee.
"The FAA, in an attempt to comply with these guidelines, began reducing management oversight and staff support in its air-traffic facilities to reach the agency's arbitrarily determined ratio of 10-to-1," he says.
"An overall 8 percent increase in operations from 1995 to 1999 should in no way increase the number of operational errors by 53 percent, operational deviations by 47 percent, runway incursions by 73 percent, or delays by 58 percent during the same period," says Mr. Baker, whose organization advocates excellence in public service.

Security by number

Having received employee complaints about racial profiling, the Department of Energy reportedly will implement new security procedures at its building portals, a source within the department tells this column.
Previously, security officials at the department's Washington-area facilities would conduct random checks of employees and their personal effects, much as airports search passengers using metal detectors and X-ray machines.
But at a recent department "security briefing," our source reveals, it was noted that some employees complained "about being singled out."
So, says the source, electronic "counters" soon will be installed at main entrances to Energy facilities. Photographs of the counters, which include floor pads that count employees as they step through the doors, were shown to Energy staff at the security briefing.
Now, instead of guards choosing which people to stop and search, "every 30th guy, or 100th guy however they want to do it will be stopped. It's like a lottery system or roulette machine. This way nobody will feel like they're getting picked on," says our insider.

Early listeners

J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International Inc., reminded CNN talk-show host Larry King how far the interviewer has come since he hosted an all-night radio program from high atop Crystal City.
Addressing notables, including Mr. King, at this week's opening ceremony for the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 22nd Street near Georgetown, Mr. Marriott recalled staying up past his bedtime 15 or so years ago to appear on Mr. King's radio show sometime "between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m."
"Who listens to this thing?" Mr. Marriott admitted asking Mr. King during the interview.
"The postal workers in the New York City post office," Mr. King replied.

Dog's best friend

Forget for a moment the appropriations standoff between Republicans and Democrats. Allow one of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill, in one of the most pressing times of this Congress, to come to the aid of man's best friend.
Responding to word that lower than expected salmon runs may force mushers and other dog owners in Yukon River communities of Alaska to kill their dogs rather than watch them starve, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, yesterday was able to obtain 22.5 tons of Purina Dog Chow from the Ralston Purina Co.
Through transportation arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the dog food donated through Purina's plant in Clinton, Iowa is expected to arrive in Alaska via truck, plane and train on Tuesday.
Each sled dog normally consumes at least 100 large salmon a year.

Better late than never

"Believe it or not, I finally got your August 6, 1999, letter, which was sent to Washington and got lost a while."
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a handwritten note sent this week to UPI President Arnaud de Borchgrave.

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