- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

While national Democrats are criticizing Republican lawmakers for discriminatory public comments about race and homosexuality, a local liberal politician has generated an uproar of his own.
The chairman of the District's Democratic Party is in hot water and may lose his post this week for questionable comments he made in print and over the air waves.
Norman C. Neverson, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, will be asked to step down for comments he made to the Washington City Paper and WAMU-FM (88.5-FM) two weeks ago. In an article about his life and times in the District, Mr. Neverson said he would have voted for the "three-fifths compromise," adding that "to produce a republic you have to make sacrifices."
The three-fifths compromise was an agreement reached by the 13 original states and allowed a state to count three-fifths of each black person in determining the population of a state for purposes of representation and taxation.
Mr. Neverson would later attempt to explain his statement on WAMU's "The D.C. Politics Hour," saying that he was simply trying to emphasize the importance of accommodation and middle ground when leading the contentious and oft-times dysfunctional state committee.
Local Democrats called the comments and the explanation "ridiculous." They said Mr. Neverson, being the only black Democratic state committee chairman in the country, should have known better and should apologize and step aside.
National committeewoman Barbara Lett-Simmons said she will introduce a resolution at the committee's monthly meeting Thursday asking Mr. Neverson to resign.
"I don't think he is capable, after reading that article; for him to simply volunteer that as his mind-set certainly tells me he should not be my leader, and I'm going to get others to join me," she said.
Philip Pannell, president of the Ward 8 Democrats, said the comments were no different from those made by Republican Sens. Trent Lott of Mississippi or Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Lott was forced to step down as majority leader last year for suggesting that the country would have been better off had then-segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, been elected president in 1948.
Mr. Santorum has been hammered by liberal politicians this past week and has been asked to step down as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference for comparing homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest, adultery and bestiality.
A. Scott Bolden, D.C. Democratic Party finance chairman, called the comments "problematic."
Committee member Mary Parham-Wolf said, "It's vintage Norm," referring to his trademark style of pontificating.
One committee member who wished to remain anonymous perhaps summed it up best.
"He should be removed for his arrogance alone. Who does he think he is to believe that had he been around in 1790, any of those politicians would have gone out to the field and asked him, 'What do you think about this three-fifths proposal?'"
Water works
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plans to make good tomorrow on a campaign pledge. He will restart the fountain on the governor's mansion lawn that was turned off almost two years ago by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.
About 200 people have been invited for the festivities that are sure to make Comptroller William Donald Schaefer a happier man.
Mr. Schaefer was furious when Mr. Glendening, citing drought restrictions, turned off the water in the summer of 2001. The fountain was installed when Mr. Schaefer was governor. It was installed by Hilda Mae Snoops, his longtime companion and hostess at the governor's mansion, who raised private money to build and have the $169,500 fountain fitted.
Mr. Schaefer did not buy Mr. Glendening's reason for shutting off the water.
"He did it to spite me," the comptroller said, with Mr. Glendening sitting just inches away, at a meeting of the Board of Public Works in August.
Mr. Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend promised during their campaign for governor last year to turn the fountain back on, but Mr. Glendening got in ahead of them.
Mr. Glendening restarted the water in the fountain after he lifted the drought restrictions in December. His staff said it was a temporary move so that the plumbing could be tested. Water was then turned off again for the winter.
That also angered Mr. Schaefer, who called Mr. Glendening "Rabbit Brain" and presented him a Christmas gift of a bottle of water decorated with a bow.
Nickel for Thomas
Quarters may have a new look, but the nickel will remain the same, sort of.
President Bush, at the request of Rep. Eric I. Cantor, Virginia Republican, took time out of his busy schedule to sign legislation that will keep the image of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello on the nickel.
"Virginia and Thomas Jefferson played a unique role in shaping our nation's history. I am proud to help ensure that the nickel will continue to commemorate Thomas Jefferson and Monticello in our everyday lives," Mr. Cantor said.
Mr. Cantor's bill, the American Five-cent Coin Design Continuity Act of 2003, authorizes the secretary of the Treasury to change the design on the coins in 2003, 2004 and 2005, in recognition of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
The bill requires any nickel coin issued after December 2005 to bear an image of Jefferson on its obverse side and an image of Jefferson's home at Monticello on its reverse side.
Leaving with a smile
It is time to say her goodbyes, and Iris T. Metts, for one, is not looking back in sorrow.
The Prince George's County schools' chief executive officer spent the first two years of her term battling with the elected school board and scored a major victory when state lawmakers gave it the boot.
But things were rocky with the new appointed board as well, as it started searching for a new chief executive officer earlier this year.
Even as whispers floated around that Mrs. Metts was definitely not on the list of candidates, the savvy chief executive officer pre-empted talk of being fired with her own bombshell: She would not run for another term, preferring instead to join a national charter school management company in the District.
Now, there is news that she could be leaving a month early, clearing the way for the board's selection, Andre Hornsby, former superintendent of Yonkers, N.Y., and by several accounts not everybody's friend either.
After all that happened, Mrs. Metts is perhaps relieved to pack up.
As one observer said: "She has been walking around with a big smile on her face. I've never seen her look so relieved."
Extended rail hours
When Metro announced the numbers on fare increases Thursday, it also said the subway system would be staying open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
"Now, Metro is running in a way that reflects the city's night life," Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham crowed.
The problem was, nobody wanted to pay for it. The delays in announcing Metro fare increases were because the District wanted Metro riders to be able to stick around for last call on weekends.
A week earlier, on April 17, Mr. Graham faced reporters and said board discussions on proposed fare changes had reached a stalling point.
"Matters just simply have not jelled at this point," said Mr. Graham, a member of the D.C. Council from Ward 1. "But hope springs eternal that we will have a consensus."
On Thursday, the board reached an agreement and announced the fare increases. The back-room negotiating, Mr. Graham revealed, ended when the District agreed to cover the cost of operating until 3 a.m.
"There are things that matter to D.C. that don't matter to Virginia and Maryland," Mr. Graham said that day. "This matters so much to us that we're willing to pay for it.
New job for Gilmore
Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III has a new job as co-chairman of a consulting group that offers advice nationwide about how to finance new roads.
The D.C.-based Coalition for Innovative Transportation Solutions is financed by large transportation consulting firms and oil companies that make asphalt.
A spokesman for the new organization said the group advocates the use of public-private partnerships to build roads more quickly and cheaply.
The coalition will hold its first policy briefing tomorrow at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Gilmore served as Virginia governor from 1998 to 2002.
Jon Ward, Brian DeBose, Mary Shaffrey and Vaishali Honawar and the Associated Press contributed to this column.

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