- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Brother chairs

Sitting in the Senate “minority” just doesn’t have the ring to it. Ask any of the “minority leaders” or a committee’s “ranking members,” as they are often politely called by the majority party.

But not when it comes to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Take this memo distributed this week to Commerce Department staff:

“Letters to Sen. Stevens and Sen. Inouye, when sending to them in their capacity of being on the Commerce Committee, should be addressed as follows:

“The Honorable Ted Stevens

“Chairman

Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

“Co-Chairman

“Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.”

What gives?

“It’s because Senator Stevens considers himself co-chairman,” committee spokeswoman Melanie Alvord tells Inside the Beltway. “They’ve been one [chairman] or the other [ranking member] since 1981, fluctuating [as the majority status changes], so they have considered themselves co-chairmen for many, many years.

“This is a new committee, but they are just replicating what they have been,” she says. “They are both instrumental. The two have much in common. They consider themselves brothers.”

Isn’t this unusual for a Republican and a Democrat these days?

“It’s a little different up here,” Ms. Alvord agrees.

Shepherd of D.C.

Alexander R. Shepherd is once again overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. Where he’s been, and how he climbed back atop his pedestal, is a story all of its own.

Born in Washington in 1835, Shepherd was a civil rights crusader and D.C. Council member from 1861 to ‘71. During that time, there was discussion of relocating the U.S. Capitol to St. Louis — a cleaner, more efficient and geographically more centralized city. Proud that he was of his native Washington, however, Shepherd wouldn’t hear of it.

In 1872, he became Washington’s governor and immediately set out to modernize the city, first and foremost bringing the streets and sewer system up to snuff. But by 1873, Washington was bankrupt, and Congress abolished its government — a territorial governing power — and took over control of the city.

“Congress installed three commissioners to run the city, which lasted 100 years until 1974, when a mayor and city council was returned,” notes D.C. Council member Jack Evans, whose office provides an impressive view of Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House, and — as of 11 days ago — Shepherd’s bronze statue.

In fact, it was Mr. Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, and several other council members who helped stand Shepherd back on his feet. And where had he been?

“We found him at the sewage-treatment plant at Blue Plains, laying on his side in the grass,” Mr. Evans tells Inside the Beltway. “What an end for this statue. He’s likely the only local statue around here. We’ve got presidents and generals, but no statue for somebody who is local.”

So, without fanfare one recent Saturday, the several-ton bronze statue was hauled from the sewage-treatment plant grounds and re-erected near its former standing place in front of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

“You won’t believe this,” says Mr. Evans, “but we discovered during this process that [the city] doesn’t own the sidewalk. It’s owned by the federal government. And, of course, they would not allow us to put the statue on the sidewalk.

“So, we put him in the flower bed. And he looks great.”

As of now, the base of the statue only says “Shepherd.” Mr. Evans says a more proper plaque will be installed soon.

Nats and arts

A mayoral swearing-in ceremony was held this week for several boards and commissions in Washington from Latino Community Development to the board of funeral directors.

Linda Greenan was reappointed to the Sports and Entertainment Commission, telling Inside the Beltway that everybody and their brother are seeking opening-game tickets for the new Washington Nationals baseball team.

“Everybody’s calling for tickets, including the White House and Capitol Hill,” she says, noting even a single ticket is hard to come by for the April 14 home opener at RFK Stadium.

Among those appointed to the arts and humanities commission are Jane Lipton Cafritz, of the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and Marsha A. Ralls, a Georgetown gallery owner and art dealer for the past 14 years, who has coordinated programs with the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic Society.

Miss Ralls says he hopes her tenure on the commission will lead to a “new awareness of the arts in the community,” by ensuring that art becomes “more accessible and an integral part of people’s daily lives” in the District.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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