- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

Complex conversation
"She thinks she knows everything, and she doesn't."
Those were the words that D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large Republican, used to describe Katherine K. Hanley, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, after the two locked horns at Thursday's Metro Board budget committee meeting.
Mr. Catania was discussing a minor point the easy availability of federal grants to pay for apprenticeship programs that would help Metro train workers fix the system's escalators and elevators.
He said that having worked on the Work Force Investment Board, he knew the funds were available and easy to obtain, and would be a small way that Metro could cut some of its costs.
At that point, Mrs. Hanley cut in, saying that she, too, had worked on a Work Force Investment Board in Virginia and that the process was not always so easy.
Mr. Catania responded sharply and vigorously to the contrary, eliciting a disgusted grimace and a rolling of eyes from Mrs. Hanley.
Mr. Catania fired back that he had worked with the Department of Labor on the topic and that the apprenticeship programs are "made complex only by individuals who want it to be."
The room was uneasily quiet for a moment at that point.
Mr. Catania said later that he was referring to individuals at the Department of Labor who don't like the apprenticeship programs because it takes away their power to outsource contracts to personal associates.
The right to know
A state senator has asked Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, to delete language from a bill that would require people seeking court documents online to state their purpose.
"This is a radical departure from the public's having access to public documents," Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania County Democrat, said Wednesday. "Nowhere in the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act has there ever been any reference to purpose, which really flies in the face of citizens having access to public information."
Mr. Warner has until next March 24 to sign, veto or amend the more than 1,600 bills and resolutions approved during the General Assembly session.
A spokesman said Mr. Warner still was reviewing legislation, including the court records bill.
The language is in a bill that would restrict access to court documents online by requiring users to sign up for a subscription service. Court clerks would collect fees and monitor who is accessing the documents.
When the bill went to the Senate floor, Sen. William T. Bolling, Hanover County Republican, introduced an amendment to require people seeking court documents online to say what their purpose is in viewing the documents. The amendment also requires people to state their citizenship status.
In his letter to Mr. Warner, Mr. Houck said the amendment sets a double standard by requiring people to state their intent if they want to see records online but not imposing such a requirement on people who want to look at paper records.
Mr. Houck has been a supporter of open-government legislation and serves as chairman of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.
Forrest M. Landon, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said the requirement "would have a terribly chilling effect on citizen access to government information and citizen oversight over government.
"It's always wrong for anybody in government to start cross-examining a citizen as to why the citizen wants information about his or her government," Mr. Landon added.
Skating into town
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has nominated Olympic figure skating champion Dorothy Hamill to the Maryland Tourism Development Board.
Miss Hamill, a Baltimore resident, won a gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and captured the World Professional Skating Championship five years in a row.
She is nominated for appointment to a three-year term on the 19-member tourism board beginning July 1.
"Dorothy is a friend and fellow Marylander who cares deeply about the preservation and promotion of our state," Mr. Ehrlich said in a statement Thursday. "I look forward to working with her to celebrate and strengthen the historic tourism industry in Maryland."
The Maryland Tourism Development Board works to preserve and promote the natural, historical, scenic and cultural resources of the state, and encourages the development of tourism resources, businesses and attractions in the state.
Your ad here
As part of his presentation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors March 10, Harry Doyle, chairman of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), showed slides of advertisements by similar agencies in other counties, states and countries.
Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn, Dranesville Republican, acted upset with Mr. Doyle for giving other jurisdictions what he called "free advertising" on the county's cable television channel. It wasn't clear whether Mr. Mendelsohn was serious.
Supervisor Gerald E. Connolly, Providence District Democrat, however, did not think the slides were anything to worry about.
As Mr. Doyle flashed one particular slide which was grainy, dark, not attractive and not clear board Chairman Katherine K. Hanley squinted and asked Mr. Doyle, "What is that?"
"Prince William County," answered Mr. Doyle.
There was a slight pause, then Mr. Connolly piped in.
"That's compelling," he said, drawing laughter from many in the room.
Divine inspiration
Delegate Winsome Earle Sears, a Republican who upset a 10-term Democrat in 2001 in an overwhelmingly Democratic district to become the lone black Republican in the General Assembly, announced last week that she would not seek a second term this year.
Mrs. Sears' decision could put the Norfolk seat back in the hands of William P. Robinson Jr., who is trying to win back the district he represented from 1981 until he lost it to Mrs. Sears in 2001.
Mrs. Sears a Marine veteran and former unwed mother who married, became an evangelical Christian and defeated Mr. Robinson in her first bid for elective office said her decision to leave the House was divinely inspired.
"It was the Lord. How else can I tell you?" she said in a telephone interview Tuesday, her 39th birthday. "I tried to find every reason not to run two years ago, but the Lord told me to run so I ran and I won. Now, the Lord is asking me to leave the race, so how can I stay in?" she said.
House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, said Mrs. Sears' decision surprised and disappointed him.
"I asked her if she was at peace with her decision, and she said she was, so I didn't try to talk her out of it," said Mr. Howell. He said he had not found another Republican to run in the district.
It also surprised Mr. Robinson, who has formally declared his candidacy and is unopposed heading into a March 24 Democratic Party nomination deadline.
"It'll certainly cause us to do somewhat of a restructuring of our campaign," Mr. Robinson said in a telephone interview. He said he had geared his campaign to focus on Mrs. Sears' conservative voting record.
"She's a lady who has a deep-seated faith, and she obviously follows what her faith instructs, and that is her personal choice and one of the things that makes this country great, and I wish her luck," Mr. Robinson said.
Mrs. Sears was recruited to oppose Mr. Robinson by former Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., whose political action committees contributed nearly $24,000 to her 2001 campaign. She became the first black Republican woman elected to the General Assembly.
Mrs. Sears also benefited from a succession of legal problems that dogged Mr. Robinson. In the final month of the campaign, Mr. Robinson, a criminal defense lawyer, spent a night in jail after being convicted of contempt of court in Suffolk for not showing up for a client's hearing.
Mr. Robinson blamed overconfidence and inattentiveness to his 2001 campaign, a redrawn district, and a poor image from events that year for losing the election by about 700 votes. "We're taking a different approach this time from the ground up," he said.
Even though she is out of the race, Mrs. Sears said, she will help a Republican nominee campaign against Mr. Robinson. "If they return Pharaoh to office, I can't help that. I'm just going to ask and beg the people not to send Mr. Robinson back," she said.
Confusion reigns
Here's a new idea from Republican lawmakers in Cecil County, Md.: Abandon the appointed school board in the middle of the school year and elect new members.
Two years later, hold a referendum to decide whether people really wanted the elected school board in the first place.
If they don't want it after all, reappoint a new board.
Confused? Well, so was everyone at the Senate Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee that heard the bill last week in Annapolis.
As one lawmaker said privately, "This is going to be a real mess."
Staff writers Jon Ward and Vaishali Honawar contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide