- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) — Capital Comment — Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Mirror-image …

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a liberal Democrat, is a leader of the filibuster keeping the Senate from taking an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Miguel Estrada to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Schumer says he opposes the vote because senators do not know enough about Estrada. Among other things, he wants the Justice Department to furnish copies of memos and other documents the nominee wrote while on the staff of the U.S. solicitor general in the first Bush and Clinton administrations. The White House says they do not have to provide those documents — an assertion that all the living former solicitors general have backed up.

To make a point, the New York State Conservative Party has sent a letter asking Schumer to produce some documents of his own. "Fair-minded observers have begun to wonder the extent to which your efforts to defeat President Bush's judicial nominees have been coordinated with liberal Washington-based special interest groups," NYSCP President Mike Long writes. "I agree with you that it is time to open our government to the public — in this case, to your fellow New Yorkers."

Schumer is being asked to release a list of all meetings held by him or by his staff with "the special interest group opponents of both Miguel Estrada and all other Bush nominees." Long and the party also want "all memoranda written to you by your staff on this subject, all memoranda written by your staff to you, and all memoranda from you and your staff" to the aforementioned special interest groups to be made public.

"You've continually reminded us that the Senate must have access to information when assessing the merits of a judicial nominee," Long says. "So I'm sure you'll agree that the citizens of New York have an equal right to information to assess the quality of their representation in Washington. Sauce for the goose, Senator Schumer, is sauce for the gander."

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Open up that golden gate 'cause the golden parachute's closed …

Willie Brown, who as speaker of the California Assembly terrorized Republicans across the state for years until term limits forced him from office and is now approaching the end of his tenure as San Francisco's mayor, is looking for a place to go.

Wherever he ends up, this powerful Democrat is almost certain to seek out a position where he can continue to exercise political power and influence. One place he isn't going, however, is into the presidency of the California Public Employers' Retirement System. By a vote of 8-to-4, the board chose labor leader Sean Harrigan to be the new president instead of Brown, who had the backing of embattled Democrat Gov. Gray Davis.

CalPERS, as it is more commonly known, is the nation's largest pension fund and has for years been an active and liberal voice on political matters — trying to shape corporate behavior through the power that comes along with its holdings. The presidency itself is a relatively weak position but it invests the occupant with tremendous power in corporate boardrooms all across America.

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In memoriam …

The Richard Nixon Library has announced that a memorial service for former presidential spokesman Ron Ziegler will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, at Christ Church in Alexandria, Va. Ziegler, who became a television fixture during the Watergate crisis that resulted in the resignation of President Nixon, died Feb. 10 at his new home in California, to which he moved soon after stepping down from his post as head of a national trade association.

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Personnel notes …

The Bush administration has asked Diane Kroupa of Minnesota to serve as a judge on the United States Tax Court, for a 15-year term. Kroupa, formerly a judge on the state of Minnesota's tax court, is currently special counsel to the firm of Faegre & Benson. … Anne Rader is going to be nominated to fill out the remainder of a three-year term on the National Council on Disability. Rader, a Virginian who is currently with Fannie Mae, will, if confirmed, serve until September 2004.

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