- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

Good choice

"You had a choice between Ozzy Osbourne or me, and Nancy Reagan said me."

Merv Griffin, appearing at this week's Congressional Gold Medal Gala in Washington honoring former President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan.


All said and done

"He was no actor at all," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, declared of former President Ronald Reagan, who despite his myriad accomplishments during two terms in the Oval Office could never quite shake the negative "actor" label from his previous career.

"He was one of those rare presidents who lifted our vision," Mr. Kennedy told Nancy Reagan and fellow guests assembled for the Congressional Gold Medal Gala in Washington, benefiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation. "He renewed America's faith in itself."


Dirty tricks

Republican House leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of 7th Circuit Court Senior Judge Richard D. Cudahy, who has acknowledged leaking to the press in 2000 that a grand jury had been empaneled to investigate then-President Bill Clinton's testimony relating to Monica Lewinsky.

Based on the leak, the Associated Press reported independent counsel Robert W. Ray's grand jury investigation on the day then-Vice President Al Gore accepted the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

"Public officials and the media rushed to condemn the leak as a political 'dirty trick' by the independent counsel," says House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., of Wisconsin. "Despite the immediate outcry and accusations against independent counsel Ray, Judge Cudahy failed to come forward immediately and attempted to prevent a criminal investigation into the matter.

"Not until late the next day did Judge Cudahy acknowledge that he not the independent counsel was responsible for the public disclosure of the grand jury investigation," said Mr. Sensenbrenner.


Rare mayor

John F. Collins Jr., the Washington-based manager of health care solutions for Hewlett-Packard Co., is back home in Boston for the unveiling of the "Mayor John F. Collins Memorial Sculpture" in honor of his father.

A conservative Democrat and architect of the "New Boston," Mr. Collins was the first mayor to revitalize a city while lowering its taxes and do so without a hint of corruption.

"Dad wanted to prove that a mayor of Irish descent could be honest, tough, smart and compassionate," Mr. Collins says. "He was a brilliant, honest guy who stood up for what he believed in to protect the interests of the people."

As mayor from 1960 to 1967, Mr. Collins rejuvenated the business and banking communities and stemmed the outflow of population by uniting the city's ethnic neighborhoods. Boston, perhaps as a result, was one of the few big cities to avoid the race riots of the '60s.

Mr. Collins was well-known in Washington political circles, too. A former Massachusetts state representative and senator, he launched his career alongside legendary former House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill Jr., although as Mr. O'Neill steered left, Mr. Collins turned right.

The Democrat was so highly regarded on the conservative side of the aisle he was chosen national chairman of the Democratic committee in the presidential elections of three Republicans Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. He turned down Cabinet posts in all three administrations, although Mr. Bush succeeded in enlisting him to clean up the Legal Services Corp.

Mr. Collins died in 1994, even though doctors had said he'd never survive the polio epidemic of 1955. Elected mayor four years later, he was restricted to a wheelchair and crutches for the rest of his life.


Norwegian knot

John Korsmo, chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), touched on his Norwegian heritage and upcoming nuptials (actually, he's getting hitched today) in a speech this week to the Independent Community Bankers of America.

President Bush named Mr. Korsmo, a Fargo, N.D., businessman and lawyer, head of the FHFB last December.

"You should know that your conference has gotten me out of a few duties of planning for my wedding this Friday," he told the 400 assembled bankers. "I'm getting married Friday to the love of my life, Michelle Larson, who is deputy chief of staff [to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao] at the Department of Labor."

Miss Larson, as her fiance pointed out, comes from the town of Gilby, N.D., where her family farms and where her grandfather, along with a few of his neighbors, started the Valley Bank of Gilby a hundred years or so ago.

"Michelle is also of Norwegian descent," noted Mr. Korsmo, "so we're getting married May 17th the Syttende Mai which, for those of you who are not steeped in Scandinavian tradition, is Norwegian Constitution Day.

"Constitution Day is, I think, the day our Norwegian ancestors finally threw off the Swedish yoke. Of course, we've been the butt of Swedish jokes ever since."

Today's wedding ceremony will take place, weather permitting, amid the thick foliage of the Potomac River's Roosevelt Island, which ain't Fargo, but it will have to do.


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