- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Timely remark

President Bush's alarming habit of starting and ending meetings on time continues to send shock waves into all branches of government.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, greeted reporters at a news conference at 9:05 a.m. yesterday by saying, "I'm trying my best to stay on 'Bush time,' so I'm only five minutes behind schedule."

Nepotism Central

Former federal housing Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo held a party in New York last week to announce his intention to run for governor, New York Times columnist Gail Collins notes.
"Since Mr. Cuomo is both the son of a former governor and the husband of one of Robert Kennedy's daughters, the theme was dynastic succession, something this state understands very well. Washington may think it's leading the way in elevating sons of elected officials to office, but New York is Nepotism Central. The upcoming City Council races are absolutely stuffed with sons and daughters of term-limited incumbents. Some of them are so youthful that the feel is less 'Next Generation' than 'Bringing Up Baby,' " the columnist said.
"This month, there's a special election in the Bronx for a City Council seat being vacated by Jose Rivera, a Democrat who just moved up (or at least north) to the State Legislature. Mr. Rivera's 22-year-old son, a college student, is running for the seat. His opponent's campaign is being managed by the Council member Pedro G. Espada, the son of State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. The City Council speaker, Peter Vallone, who is running for mayor, is supporting Peter Vallone Jr. as his successor, and Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who's running as well, has already installed a son in the state Senate.
"It's hard to decide if this is a healthy sign. At least there are some kids who see politics up close and don't come to loathe it. (Don't hold your breath waiting for Chelsea Clinton or the Bush girls to pick up the torch.) But you wonder if politics is becoming one of those insular occupations that nobody would think of pursuing unless it ran in the family like tightrope walking or hog farming."

More expensive still

Taxpayers may soon be wishing Bill Clinton's post-presidential office suite would be costing them only $650,000 a year.

The New York Post reported yesterday that rental fees on the swank Manhattan office space he covets would top $800,000 per year.

Reporters Susan Edelman and Deborah Orin, citing unnamed sources, wrote that figures prepared by the General Services Administration show the space would cost "far more than his staff has previously acknowledged."

Clinton spokesman Jake Siewert denied the new figures, the Post reported.

"I have no idea where that figure comes from," the newspaper quoted Mr. Siewert as saying.

The former president's spokesman had previously estimated the cost of a floor of space in the West 57th Street building at $650,000 to $700,000.

Mr. Clinton sought to defuse the fuss over his request for ultrachic digs last week by saying William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation would pay $300,000 per year.

However, The Washington Times reported in yesterday's editions, that subsidy will come from tax-exempt donations given to build and endow a presidential library in Little Rock.

And even with that help, a cost of $500,000 a year would still be almost twice the cost of the next most-expensive former president's office and more than twice the price of the office space that Mr. Clinton had told taxpayers would suffice.

Taming a rogue court

Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney, a Republican, says state legislators are likely to take a close look at changing the way the Florida Supreme Court operates and might consider imposing term limits for the justices, the St. Petersburg Times reports.
Also under discussion is a return to an elected court and the possible removal of the Florida Bar Association from licensing and disciplining the state's lawyers.
Mr. Feeney said he supports the continued independence of the state's judiciary, but he complained that the Florida Supreme Court ignored the state and federal constitutions when it ordered recounts of votes during last year's election battle, said the newspaper, whose report was picked up by National Journal's Hotline.
Mr. Feeney also said he is troubled by a system that leaves the state's residents, and the Legislature, without a remedy when they believe the court has ignored the Constitution and the law.
"If legislators misbehave and act stupidly, there are remedies: The court can strike them down and the people can vote them out of office every two years. If I saw a proposal that would tend to produce a court more respectful of the law and the Constitution, I'd take a hard look at it."

'Out-and-out theft'

"It's a good thing that the Clintons couldn't fit the Washington Monument in their trunk. They seem to have walked off with everything else that wasn't tied down in our nation's capital," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.
"Apparently, it was not enough for them to establish a bridal-like registry to solicit almost $200,000 worth of china, silver and furniture for their Chappaqua and D.C. mansions. Now, we learn that they also helped themselves to $28,000 worth of furniture donated by public-spirited citizens to the White House Permanent Collection," Mr. Morris said.
"This is not an ethics violation. This is out-and-out theft."

A deaf ear for ethics

"The cascading events of the past several weeks feed the impression that the Clintons have a warped sense of entitlement and a deaf ear for ethics," USA Today says.
"In fact, the Clintons seem stunningly unaware of standards so basic that they can't be explained away by legal technicalities or staff-level mix-ups," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"Among them: Ethical senators don't skirt already-loose ethics rules. Former presidents don't order the most expensive digs on the real-estate menu.
"And even long-term guests of the White House don't make off with the furniture."

Singing the blues

"People who talked to Bill Clinton last week say the former chief executive is 'seriously depressed' by recent events," gossip columnist Liz Smith writes in the New York Post.

Feinstein vs. Davis

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, appears to be parting company with California Gov. Gray Davis on how to solve the state's electricity woes.
Mrs. Feinstein told the San Francisco Chronicle that the state "should consider full deregulation including lifting the current rate cap on consumers."
The governor is adamant that rates should be held down. New legislation allows the state to enter into long-term contracts with power providers.
"The danger is that the state spends all this money and ends up just where it is today," Mrs. Feinstein said. A "more coherent path toward full deregulation or full re-regulation must be forged by summer," she added.

Crenshaw gains post

Rep. Ander Crenshaw, Florida Republican, has been named an assistant majority whip, working under Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.
"I am honored to be appointed an assistant majority whip and am excited about the chance to use this leadership position to accomplish the goals of the 107th Congress, including rebuilding the military, providing tax relief and reforming our education system," Mr. Crenshaw said in a prepared statement.
"Coupled with my role as the freshman liaison to the House Republican leadership, I look forward to the challenges of taking this responsibility."

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