- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Republican recruiting

With almost two dozen resumes from black Republicans in hand, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said his party's members will focus on hiring more minorities for their staffs.

"One of our problems was, in the hiring of African-Americans, we can't find good conservative African-Americans to work for us," Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, said after meeting yesterday with conservative black leaders. "But I've got 20 resumes now of young conservatives."

The closed two-hour session in House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's office was the second time this month Republican leaders have solicited advice from prominent black conservatives from politics, business and churches, the Associated Press reports.

At the request of party leaders in the House, the black conservatives brought resumes from blacks from around the country ready to work in Republican offices in Washington.

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's racially insensitive remarks last month highlighted the GOP's difficulties winning over black voters. There are no black Republicans in either the House or Senate.

Participants at yesterday's meeting said the party needs to recruit more blacks to serve on staffs of House and Senate Republicans, which could translate to more black candidates and voters in the future.

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, organizer of the meetings and a former aide to retired Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, pledged that within two years, "you'll see hundreds of black kids from all over the country working on Capitol Hill" in Republicans' offices.

Citing a 2001 study by the Congressional Management Foundation, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said only about 8 percent of the more than 20,000 Hill staffers are black. Only about 4 percent are in high-level positions and only about 1 percent are Republicans, Mr. Blackwell said.

Only 50 of the more than 9,000 blacks holding elected positions nationwide in 2000 were Republicans, Mr. Blackwell said.


America 'Today'

"The United States has led the world in integrating peoples of various ethnic groups, races and religions into its society, and after 9-11 showed a remarkable lack of personal anger toward Muslims and Arabs with very few crimes committed against them, yet NBC's 'Today' on Monday devoted the 9 a.m. hour to how, as Katie Couric put it, 'the sad truth is in this country racism, prejudice, bias, bigotry, whatever you want to call it, is unfortunately alive and well,' the Media Research Center reports.

" 'Today' focused on a few very deplorable but atypical instances of hate-inspired murder of people because of their skin color, sexual orientation or religious affiliation, and cited hugely exaggerated statistics on the number of 'hate crimes.' 'Today's' panel revealed a political agenda behind the hour, though 'Today' did not acknowledge it," Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

" 'In addition to Judy Shepherd, the mother of Matthew Shepherd, who was killed because he was gay, and Ruby Bridges, 'who at 6 famously integrated the William France public school in New Orleans, escorted by federal marshals,' the panel featured the politically motivated liberal Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Tolerance.org, along with James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, who has a specific policy agenda on such things as ethnic profiling at airports.' "


Fighting back

A heritage group says it will petition to have the Confederate flag restored over a state-run cemetery in Missouri where hundreds of Confederate soldiers are buried.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which says it condemns the flag's use by white supremacists, also criticized Steve Mahfood, director of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources, who on Jan. 14 ordered the Confederate battle flag removed from Higginsville and another state historic site, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Mahfood's mandate came after Democratic presidential hopeful Richard A. Gephardt said during a campaign stop in South Carolina that the symbol should not be flown "anytime, anywhere." His staff later said Mr. Gephardt was not aware of the flag's year-round display in his home state.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Bob Holden said she had relayed Mr. Gephardt's comments to Mr. Mahfood, who then decided to yank the flags.

"This was a political decision that pays no regard to historical context," said Gene Dressel, Missouri Division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Mr. Dressel said he met recently with state officials to propose compromises, including flying the flag on a separate pole closer to the cemetery or having a nonprofit group take over the site. He said he is awaiting a response.

Petitions will be circulated statewide "to show them that there are many Missourians who don't view this flag as a symbol of hatred, and don't appreciate the politics behind this decision," said Frank Haston, the group's president.

The group defends the flag's display at Higginsville, about 40 miles east of Kansas City, because its cemetery holds the remains of 694 Confederate veterans and 108 wives.

The flag had also been displayed at the Fort Davidson site in eastern Missouri to commemorate the 1864 Battle of Pilot Knob.


'Time to move on'

Three former Chicago aldermen who served jail time for trading bribes for favors want their old jobs back.

Ambrosio Medrano, Virgil E. Jones and Jesse J. Evans are all campaigning for their old seats in the Feb. 25 city elections, the Associated Press reports.

The three were among six aldermen convicted in the federal government's "Operation Silver Shovel" probe of public corruption in Chicago in the 1990s.

"I made a mistake. I paid for it. I fulfilled my obligation legally. I've served my time," said Mr. Medrano, who spent nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 to taking $31,000 in bribes from a corrupt waste hauler-turned-FBI mole.

"People in this community believe that people deserve a second chance," said Mr. Medrano, whose campaign slogan is "It's time to move on."

Mr. Medrano won a circuit court case in November challenging a state law that bars convicted felons from seeking local office.

That ruling put him on the ballot. It also allowed Mr. Jones and Mr. Evans to try for their old seats, although objections to their candidacies are pending before the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.


A Senate hopeful

Nicole Brown Simpson's older sister, Denise Brown, is considering running for U.S. Senate from California the next time there is an open seat.

"I want to run for Senate," Miss Brown, 45, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday from Orange County, where she runs the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation in memory of her slain sister. "I think I can get the word out there. I think I can help a lot of issues get solved."

Miss Brown has never run for office, but said she developed an interest in national politics while lobbying in Washington for victims' rights after her sister's 1994 death and the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

"I think it's just the next step to where I've been the last eight years," Miss Brown said.

"I don't know, I just like Washington, D.C. I think Washington, D.C., and I get along. I think it's a good mix there," she said.

Miss Brown said she is a registered Republican but admires California's current senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and does not want to run against either of them. Mrs. Boxer is up for re-election next year. Mrs. Feinstein is up in 2006.


Coleman's crowd

"Five Republicans and six Democrats in the Senate are trying to come up with a 'centrist' alternative to President Bush's tax-cut proposal," National Review notes in an editorial.

"The Republicans are the usual high-spending, high-taxing suspects: Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, George Voinovich … and one addition to the ranks, Norm Coleman. He is new to the neighborhood, having been elected in November, but already hanging with a bad crowd," the magazine said.

"Perhaps Coleman's behavior would make sense if the good people of Minnesota had wanted a senator who would restrain Bush's tax-cutting. But if that's what they wanted, the could have elected Walter Mondale."


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