- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz wants the D.C. auditor to identify all government contracts that require expenditures from $950,000 to $1 million.

Mrs. Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairwoman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, said Friday that the request covers the period from fiscal 2000 through the present.

It was spurred in part by the conclusion, in a report released last week, of auditor Deborah K. Nichols that the city’s lease contract for a parcel of land on Addison Road in Prince George’s County was priced at $998,250 with the intention to avoid council scrutiny.

“In your recent audit, $1 Million Lease and Proposed $12.5 Million Purchase of 4800 Addison Road, you stated, ‘There is ample evidence that the lease price … was intentionally manipulated to circumvent review and approval by the Council of the District of Columbia,’” Mrs. Schwartz said in her letter.

Contracts that call for an expenditure of more than $1 million in a 12-month period are automatically subject to council review.

Mrs. Schwartz said this behavior echoes her long-standing concern about contractors and D.C. procurement officers hiding shady deals from the council.

“I believe that there may be additional contracts that have been priced just below $1 million for the same nefarious purpose,” she said.

Mrs. Nichols said in her report on the city’s transactions involving 4800 Addison Road that the city’s director of the Office of Property Management, Tim Dimond, should be fired.

Mr. Dimond transferred his authority to Michael Lorusso, the former deputy director of the office. He was fired over his handling of the Addison Road project, seen as exhibiting a lack of ethics and due process.

Mrs. Nichols said regardless of whether Mr. Dimond was aware of Mr. Lorusso’s activities, “he should be fired for misfeasence.”

Mrs. Nichols appeared before the Committee on Public Works and the Environment on Friday for a round-table discussion on the Addison Road audit, which Mrs. Schwartz had requested.

“I think it is about time we found out,” Mrs. Schwartz said.

• More competition

Andrew M. Rosenberg, a D.C. lawyer, is running for the seat in Congress long held by U.S. Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Rosenberg, 35, joins Katherine K. Hanley, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in the quest for the Democratic Party’s nomination next year in the 8th District. Both announced their candidacy last week.

Mr. Rosenberg, who worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, from 1990 to 1993, said in a statement that the district should be represented “by someone with style, temperament and experience to reflect honorably upon our community.”

Mr. Moran, who is in his seventh term, had suggested in March that American Jews had nudged the nation into war and, according to The Washington Post, had suggested more recently that a pro-Israel lobbying group would finance an effort to unseat him.

Mr. Moran apologized for the comment on the war.

• New man in House

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has named Terrill Gilleland to fill a delegate’s seat representing District 32 in Anne Arundel County.

Mr. Gilleland will take over for Delegate James E. Rzepkowski, who resigned to become the associate deputy secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development.

Mr. Ehrlich said he and Mr. Gilleland share a commitment to restoring fiscal responsibility in Annapolis. Mr. Gilleland works for Thomson Prometric, a Baltimore computer-based testing company.

A resident of Linthicum Heights, he has been a member of the Republican State Central Committee since August 2001.

He will serve in the House of Delegates until 2007.

• Guiliani in Richmond

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani cited the 2000 presidential election and the terrorist attacks on his city a year later in urging Virginia Republicans to get an early start on electing Jerry W. Kilgore governor 2 years from now.

Mr. Giuliani’s appearance in Richmond on Wednesday helped the Republican attorney general’s 2005 committee gross more than $500,000, a considerable amount for a midweek, lunchtime fund-raising event. Party leaders said it effectively cleared the field for Mr. Kilgore’s nomination.

It also leaves Mr. Kilgore with about $1.3 million in the bank, about three times more cash than his likely Democratic foe, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, has in the bank, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Donations ranged from $100 to $25,000 per plate, with one supporter, Bristol, Tenn., pharmaceuticals executive John M. Gregory, paying $50,000, said Ken Hutcheson, director of Mr. Kilgore’s gubernatorial political action committee.

“Getting off to what might be regarded as an early start is a good decision,” Mr. Giuliani told the crowd of about 750 party activists that included the state Republican Party’s often-feuding conservatives and moderates.

“You never know how important an election will be because you never know the challenges that lie ahead.”

Delegate Robert F. McDonnell said Mr. Kilgore settled the question of his gubernatorial nomination with Mr. Giuliani’s appearance. Mr. McDonnell, of Virginia Beach, is seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Mr. Kilgore as attorney general in 2005.

“This shows that people are willing to rally around Jerry as the standard-bearer 2 years out,” Mr. McDonnell said. “It’s a great sign. We’re not going to have any fight over the nomination.”

• Elections politics

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is considering making the state’s independent elections board part of the Office of the Secretary of State, a move that would give the administration the responsibility of overseeing elections.

The state Department of Budget and Management has compiled a 15-page internal report that estimates that the state would save more than $600,000 if the secretary of state, who is appointed by the governor, controlled the elections board.

“An independent agency is not necessary for states to provide a well-managed election process,” the report states. “Consolidation will offer the opportunity to realize cost savings and potentially increase the visibility and importance of the Office of Secretary of State.”

The state Board of Supervisors of Elections oversees campaign finance regulations and determines whether candidates are eligible to run for office. The board certifies election results, keeps voter registration files, counts ballots and supervises local boards in Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.

The General Assembly created the board in 1969 as a way of “getting it out of the hands of politics,” said Gene Raynor, former head of the elections board. Before that, Maryland’s secretary of state had been in charge of elections.

The governor appoints five members to the board. Three of them must be from the governor’s party, and the remaining two must be from the minority party. The board members then select an administrator.

The board has a $7.1 million annual budget and 29 employees.

The Office of the Secretary of State has 35 employees and a $3.1 million budget.

• Free week at beach

At least 40 General Assembly members and their families have signed up for a free weekend of fun in the sun at Virginia Beach, with the city paying $10,000 toward the bill.

The legislators are scheduled to participate in the city-sponsored “Legislative Weekend” that begins May 30, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk reported Thursday.

The three-day event includes tour-boat rides, fishing trips, a golf outing, a private tour of the Virginia Marine Science Museum, a screening at the museum’s IMAX theater, a late-night magic show, dinners, Sunday brunch and oceanfront hotel rooms.

Organizers say the weekend is intended to showcase the city’s resort area and could help attract state funding for local projects such as the $193.5 million reconstruction of the convention center. The last time the city sponsored such an event for legislators was in 1998.

Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf did not oppose the city’s $10,000 contribution to the event but told the paper that she would like businesses to pay a larger share of future events.

Critics said public funds should not be spent for the weekend.

“If it was a dollar, it’s inappropriate,” said John D. Moss, president and co-founder of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance.

“Why should a municipality have to underwrite the expense for members of the General Assembly to come and learn information about our city?” he asked. “It’s called honorable public service. Why should you have to entertain people to do what’s honorable?”

Delegate Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican, said the free weekend “may raise an eyebrow or two. But the bottom line is convincing people of the economic value of our region, so I think it’s a prudent investment.”

Hotels are responsible for a big portion of the cost — rooms for delegates and their families.

Jimmy Capps, owner of the Breakers Resort Hotel, acknowledged that legislators aren’t typical tourists. Their votes regarding tourism-related projects directly can affect business at the beach.

• Honoring Connie

Former U.S. Rep. Constance A. Morella, was honored last week by the Republican Main Street Partnership for her years of service.

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., presented Mrs. Morella with the RMSP Award for Service in Government during the annual John Chafee Dinner, held in honor of the late Republican senator from Rhode Island.

“She literally does not have an enemy in the world. That is probably the biggest compliment I can give a public servant,” Mr. Ehrlich said of Mrs. Morella. “The words that describe her are: class, abundant class, dignity, compassion, fierce ethics, no hint of scandal, nothing ever. … I miss you, the state of Maryland misses you, and I need you in the General Assembly.”

Mrs. Morella represented Montgomery County for seven terms in Congress before Democrats in the General Assembly reconfigured her 8th District, to ensure that a Democrat would win. In one of the most closely watched races in the fall, Mrs. Morella was defeated by Christopher Van Hollen.

“Now, I can read the newspaper and blame Congress for what I read,” said Mrs. Morella, reflecting on life after Congress. “[And] now, I get into the back seat of a car, and it doesn’t move.”

RMSP is the largest group of elected moderate Republicans in the nation. It was founded by U.S. Rep. Amo Houghton of New York in 1998. More than 60 congressional leaders, as well as four governors — including Mr. Ehrlich — are members.

“The GOP has a great history in the environment, civil rights, and other social issues, and this is what the Republican Party is all about,” Mrs. Morella said. ” You are my special people … and the country needs you. Move ahead serving the country with civility and common sense. That is the Main Street of America.”

Staff writers Mary Shaffrey and Brian DeBose and the Associated Press contributed to this column.

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