- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Fountain of youth

There is life after Washington for Donna E. Shalala, and it doesn't involve politics.

Try football, instead.

Miss Shalala's second year of presidency is under way at the University of Miami, and this Clinton administration secretary of health and human services has yet to lose a football game, including one with the much-ballyhooed Florida Gators a few weeks back.

"I'm undefeated since I started here a year ago," Miss Shalala reminded this columnist in a telephone interview yesterday.

What can you tell us about former Attorney General Janet Reno conceding defeat in the recent Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary?

"I'm out of politics. I'm bipartisan," Miss Shalala responded. "I know nothing about Janet Reno. What I don't understand is Florida voting."

(You and millions of others, we pointed out).

So do you long for Washington?

"In Washington, you age every day. Being around these young university people every day is fun and wonderful. You get younger and younger," she said.

Preferring to talk football and academics, Miss Shalala pointed out that the Hurricanes, the national champs last year, are poised for a repeat. The former chancellor of another big football college the University of Wisconsin at Madison Miss Shalala has made "excellence on and off the playing field" the credo for her Hurricanes.

She added that she visits student sections for the first half of the games, and meets donors and VIPs in the president's box for the second half. (She said she's not big on boxes and prefers hanging out in the stands with the Miami fans).

Up next for Miss Shalala's 'Canes the fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles on Oct. 12.


'Smokey' objectivity

An item in this column yesterday caused quite a stir on Capitol Hill.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, urged his colleagues to read the column "because I do believe it demonstrates something that is an apparent complicity of efforts between radical national environmental groups and an organization funded by this congress, National Public Radio."

We reported that an NPR reporter enlisted the help of an environmental group to find a "so-called tree-thinning" project gone bad, to illustrate the lack of trust they had in the Forest Service.

"I want to use just one example of where the FS (Forest Service) and the industry flagrantly abused the public's trust on a thinning project," said the e-mail we obtained.

Mr. Craig said it is "phenomenally frustrating" that NPR uses taxpayer dollars to affect Senate debate on President Bush's forest-protection plan.

"That is not the role of the public broadcasting program in this country, and I'm extremely pleased that this article appeared. And I'm glad that some journalists have the willingness to step forward and say, 'Wait a moment here.'"

Rep. George P. Radanovich, California Republican, called it "shoddy and shameless reporting" with taxpayer dollars.

"If this is objectivity, I'm Smokey the Bear," Mr. Radanovich said.

NPR spokesman Laura Gross said agency officials are looking into the matter, but could not provide details by deadline.

Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, is leading the fight in the House to legislate Mr. Bush's plan, which would limit legal appeals of timber cuts. Under pressure from environmental groups, Democrats stalled the plan this week in the Senate.

"The e-mail underscores that national environmental groups and their apologists in the media are pulling out all the stops to protect the disastrous status quo out West," he said.

The e-mail notes the environmental group has been unable to find a thinning project gone bad.

In an editorial board meeting here yesterday, Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican, explained why: "They can't find one because they (environmentalists) have them all tied up in appeals."


FBI name game

A growing chorus on Capitol Hill is demanding that J. Edgar Hoover's name be removed from FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Republicans and Democrats have joined House Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, the most outspoken lawmaker in favor of the move.

The congressmen have just introduced H.R. 5213, with the exclamation: "In the United States, symbolism matters."

As reported in recent weeks, the committee during the past year has been investigating corruption surrounding FBI probes of organized crime in Boston, contending that "Hoover demonstrated a fundamental contempt for the rule of law."

Among other accusations, the committee says FBI officials of yesteryear took cash and gifts from mob figures such as Stevie "the Rifleman" Flemmi and James "Whitey" Bulger, and undermined the murder trial of notorious mob killer Joe "the Animal" Barboza.

Add to the list of supporters the signatures of Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican; John Lewis, Georgia Democrat; Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Republican; and Bill Delahunt and John F. Tierney, Massachusetts Democrats.

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