- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Dan's legacy

Inside the Beltway has learned that Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, less than two weeks before Republican George W. Bush is sworn in as president, has established seven advisory councils to provide "ongoing advice" to USDA employees who are members of "protected classes."
The seven advisory councils are:
Gay and Lesbian Employee Advisory Council.
Women Employee Advisory Council.
African-American Employee Advisory Council.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander Employee Advisory Council.
Hispanic Advisory Council.
Native American Employee Advisory Council.
Secretary's Advisory Committee on Employees with Disabilities.
"Travel expenses will be authorized for those employees [appointed to the councils] not based in the Washington, D.C., area," Agriculture Undersecretary August Schumacher Jr. says in a memo dated Jan. 8 and obtained by this column yesterday.
The memo says council members will be required to attend "monthly" meetings of the various councils, the first to be held "in the coming two weeks."
A former Democratic congressman from Kansas, Mr. Glickman in 1995 issued a new agencywide civil rights policy covering everyone and everything: "No employee or program beneficiary of the Department of Agriculture will be unlawfully denied an opportunity because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation."
Inheriting Mr. Glickman's seven new councils will be Ann Veneman, 51, a lawyer and daughter of peach farmers whom Mr. Bush has nominated to become his agriculture secretary.
Miss Veneman was California's agriculture secretary from 1995 until January 1999, although from 1986 to 1993 she was deputy secretary of the USDA under President Bush, becoming the highest-ranking woman ever to serve within the department.

Queen Aida

Morale is low and mistrust is high at the U.S. Small Business Administration, or so we gather from the departing memo of the SBA's public-affairs spokesman.
"Morale is low because many staff believe that they are being routinely asked to spy upon one another, creating an environment of mistrust and suspicion," writes Don Elder, who recently retired after serving in public affairs/ press operations for not only the SBA, but also office of the Vice President, Federal Trade Commission and Agriculture Department.
Inside the Beltway obtained Mr. Elder's departing letter to SBA "colleagues" from a senior SBA official.
"At a time when staff vacancies were being ignored, thousands of dollars were being charged to the … budget each month to provide 'media advance' for the Administrator," Mr. Elder's letter reveals, referring to SBA chief Aida Alvarez known throughout SBA's Washington headquarters as "Queen Aida" for the huge expense to gain her press.
"For [fiscal] 2000, the total amount for this service has been approximately $70,000. There has been little or no measurable media activity that has resulted from this costly effort," says the letter.
As for the SBA phrase, "More News, To More People, More Often," Mr. Elder writes that "is ridiculous and an embarrassment to the agency. It implies that we are manufacturing news and measuring it by volume, not quality. We should be running a press shop to promote the agency's programs and policies. It should not become a public-relations firm."

It's Dubya!

After terrorizing the Republican, Democrat and Reform Party conventions, President-elect George W. Bush, Vice President Al Gore, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and President Clinton have set their sights on the week of the Inaugural in Washington.
Or are they impersonators?
Brent Mendenhall, Brent Welch, Richard Carmichael and Pat Rick (Bush, Gore, Ventura and Clinton, respectively) tell Inside the Beltway they're all coming to Washington next week, mainly so the less fortunate without Inaugural tickets can rub elbows with the authentic winners and losers, or the next best thing.
While Mr. Mendenhall (Bush) can't wait to fool rookie Secret Service agents posted along the Inaugural parade route, Mr. Welch (Gore) and Mr. Rick (Clinton) will be seen licking their wounds and peddling "11th-hour legacy souvenirs."
The quartet of human "chad," pictured in today's column, will also be serving up double-takes at various public and private venues around town, including before the nonprofit civic education organization Washington Close Up Foundation.

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