- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

There's a new man in the White House, and nobody knows that better than state and city leaders in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
President Bush's administration has already made its presence felt in the region, vetoing a union-labor deal on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, rejecting "adjusted" census numbers, and studying the reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
The new administration, as often happens when the presidency changes parties, has reversed a slew of President Clinton's policies and priorities. That's been a boon for Virginia's governing Republicans, who applauded each of those moves.
"The Bush presidency has been good for Virginia and continues to be," said David B. Botkins, spokesman for Attorney General Mark L. Earley.
Across the Potomac River, though, Democrat-controlled Maryland is more apprehensive about the Bush presidency, and its leaders say the early signs give them good reason to be.
Marylanders worry that issues dear to their hearts, like initiatives on mass transit and environmental protection, may not survive presidential oversight just like the labor agreement Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, tried to attach to the Wilson Bridge project.
"There is concern Maryland has moved very aggressively to protect and preserve the environment, and we have serious concerns about the impact that the Bush administration's decisions will have on our efforts," said Michelle Byrnie, Mr. Glendening's press secretary.
The labor-union decision invalidated project labor agreements (PLAs) deals that usually mean labor unions get all or most of the work on federal projects nationwide, including the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement.
The Commerce Department's decision on census numbers also affected the entire nation, but it benefits Virginia in particular because it is one of a few states to have local elections this year. Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans reversed the Clinton administration's proposal to adjust census numbers by "statistical sampling," using the raw figures to estimate those who weren't counted.
Virginia had gone to court to try to prevent the Clinton administration from forcing states to use census numbers, but lost the first round. So Mr. Bush's decision delivers exactly what they needed.
But Maryland shouldn't take any of Mr. Bush's early-term decisions personally. Bush spokesman Ken Lisaius said those decisions were nationwide policies that just happen to have a particular effect locally.
"It's not necessarily targeted to Virginia or this state or that, it's for the broader perspective," he said. "If you look at the president's overall philosophy, it's one of respect for state and local government to a large degree."
Virginians point out the project labor agreement decision came at a critical time when Maryland was about to issue contracts for the bridge, though, and they say it can't be a coincidence.
"It's always nice when your folks have good relationships with the president, because then if you have issues or concerns you need to bring to their attention, you have the ability to bring it to their attention," said Ed Matricardi, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III does have the administration's ear. He is Mr. Bush's handpicked chairman of the Republican National Committee. And other Virginians have been or are being considered for posts in the administration or on the federal courts.
As for the District, Mr. Bush's move to consider reopening Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has been praised by most city leaders.
The avenue was closed by President Clinton in 1995 as a security measure, but Mr. Bush has put together a panel to decide whether the section can be reopened.
Virginians are hopeful Mr. Bush's pledge to raise salaries for those in the armed services will aid the large military community in Hampton Roads.
Marylanders are excited by Mr. Bush's pledge to increase funding at the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health by $2.8 billion next year a record amount. Mr. Bush has promised to double NIH's funding, currently $20 billion a year, over five years.
And D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting congressional representative, said the most important thing Mr. Bush has done for the District is to continue the program that allows city students to attend state schools around the country at instate tuition rates.
Still, others are waiting anxiously and hoping Mr. Bush may have an effect beyond policy decisions: The region's baseball fans hope the former part-owner of the Texas Rangers might help persuade a major league team to relocate to the area.

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