- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

New Year 2002: what's in store for you? If you're Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, you're in search of a new six-figure salary. Facing his last year in office, the Democratic leader needs a big paycheck to meet the divine divorce settlement his former wife, Frances, finagled. Now there's a woman after my own heart. Girlfriend got paid big time.
Recession is the 2002 watchword, so Maryland residents can kiss that 10-percent state income-tax cut goodbye. Bet it's the first measure to bite the dust when the General Assembly convenes tomorrow.
What of Mr. Glendening's successor? Would someone please challenge the nice-but-nebulous Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's bid for governor? Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan dropped out. Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry knows better. But Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is an untold story. Will he be the Democrat to buck Kennedy clout and cachet?
As for Mr. Curry, does anyone really believe that he's going away quietly into the Port America/Opryland sunset? Not judging from his gleeful gladhanding at the peppy retirement party last month for John Tydings, the outgoing Board of Trade president.
Excuse the digression, but are there tidings of good cheer for D.C. baseball?
Will Baltimore's state Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV (there seems to be a endless stream of Clarence Mitchells) actually defect to the Republican Party? So he threatens, if the Democratic machine does not produce a redistricting plan more favorable to its base constituency (translation: minorities) than the one to be presented by Mr. Glendening tomorrow.
Forget that Michael Steele, the state Republican Party chairman, thinks the gerrymandering plan gives the GOP an unfair disadvantage. Even Mr. Duncan has criticized the plan, which he said would block the successful candidacies of 40 percent of Montgomery County's electorate.
Crossing the Potomac River isn't likely to get any better in 2002, given the slow progress of rebuilding the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Expect more legal hassles. And it's highly improbable that Virginia and Maryland leaders will stop feuding long enough to even consider a third river crossing to ease Beltway congestion.
Speaking of gridlock, will the Virginia General Assembly pass a budget during its 60-day session this year? Will Northern Virginians get to hold a local tax referendum aimed at easing traffic congestion?
I wonder what words Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner will murmur under his budget-strained breath during his swearing-in Saturday. The theme of his inaugural address should be "Be careful what you wish for: You just might get it."
The terrorist trials to be held at U.S. District Court in Alexandria this year are destined to cast clouds over the Old Town skyline. Steer clear. The media feeding frenzy will no doubt serve as an unwelcome reminder of the nearby Pentagon bombing.
Now where's that regional "emergency-preparedness plan?" Please. Better to stock up on water, batteries, a bike and some cold, hard cash.
This, of course, brings to mind Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The larger question is not only when, or if, the airport will return to normal, but also whether the region's tourist industry will bounce back in time for the cherry trees to blossom.
How about those tens of thousands of workers who lost their jobs? Are their new year's prospects any brighter?
Speaking of prospects, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has no worries. He's so smug about his re-election prospects that he has declared the race over before the filing date. Clearly, he didn't learn anything September 11. Nothing not even tomorrow is promised.
Tony the Teflon Tyrant who I predict is the last black mayor, thanks to his successful gentrification plan just better thank his Federal City Council stars that D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large Republican, is only interested in retaining his council seat.
No question the compassionate and conscientious Mr. Catania has captured the hearts and minds of folks the mayor never had in mind. D.C. General Hospital, welfare reform, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners' revitalization, you name it, Mr. Catania has taken up the cause which is why his office gets daily calls suggesting he make a move for the Emperor With No Clothes' penthouse suite in the Wilson Building.
"El Supremo" (remember that one?) seems to have lost sight of the fact that the D.C. budget is on shaky ground, that even folks west of Rock Creek Park are crying about rising crime or that the school system that Mr. Williams wrested from the control of voters is still in shambles. Do you think this is the year the schools will open and close classes on schedule and still meet the payroll?
Maybe Mr. Williams is not worried because he's counting on the rising revenue from those red-light and speeding cameras to more than cover any budget shortfall.
You'd think you couldn't be so speedy in the nation's capital, which is resembling a Cold War country, what with all the concrete barricades you encounter these days. Guess what's at the top of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's wish list? "Set my capital streets free by 2003."

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