- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

Former D.C. Council member Sandy Allen is close to landing back on the city’s payroll.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has nominated the former Ward 8 representative for a job on the District’s Taxicab Commission.

The post pays $1,350 per year, not including a per diem of $25 per meeting.

Mrs. Allen, who lost her seat to Marion Barry in last year’s Democratic primary, earned $92,500 per year as a council member.

“I wanted to keep serving the residents of Ward 8 in some capacity,” she said.

• Ear of the people

Richmond residents got their chance to chime in on the state’s transportation problems, at Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine’s third town hall meeting last week.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, drew a standing-room-only crowd again, this time at the Virginia Aviation Museum at Richmond International Airport.

Suggestions included collecting tolls during peak traffic, encouraging bicycle use and light-rail transportation, building more highways and improving land-use planning.

Among those in the audience were Lt. Gov.-elect William T. Bolling and U.S. Rep. Robert C. Scott, Virginia Democrat.

Many of the speakers represented special interest groups.

Mr. Kaine plans to hold about a dozen transportation forums across the state to get Virginians’ views on transportation problems and what to do about them.

The meetings resume this week in Manassas and Bristol.

• City concerns

The Baltimore City Council last week unanimously approved a resolution that urges President Bush and Congress to “commence a humane, orderly, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal” of military personnel and bases from Iraq.

Council member Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. had opposed a similar council resolution in 2002 against the Iraq war.

But he said last Monday that now is the time for the city to speak up.

Mr. Mitchell said he was influenced by the deaths of troops from Baltimore and Maryland, including a Marine whom he taught in high school.

“This is not foreign policy,” council member Rochelle “Rikki” Spector said. “This is hitting us locally.”

The council’s action is similar to resolutions passed in San Francisco, Chicago and Sacramento, Calif.

Maryland’s governor and the state’s Republican Party were displeased with the council’s action.

“It’s clearly political grandstanding by the city council,” said Audra Miller, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Republican Party. “They should concern themselves with the war going on in Baltimore every day.”

Shareese DeLeaver, spokeswoman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, said that Mr. Bush commands the Maryland National Guard and that the council should be more focused on the city’s “failing schools” and high crime rate.

The city council has passed resolutions demanding the right of self-determination for the Lithuanian people, condemning slavery in Mauritania, criticizing the repression of the Ahmadiyya religious movement by the Pakistani government and calling for the end of violence in Northern Ireland and apartheid in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Baltimore last week was identified by Morgan Quitno Press as the sixth most-dangerous city in America.

• Jobs, jobs, jobs

A Virginia Republican says the FBI is moving ahead with plans to put its records management center in the Winchester area, which translates to about new 1,000 jobs.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf promised local officials last week that “the new facility is coming.”

The FBI decided early last year to house its records center in the Winchester-Frederick County area.

Mr. Wolf said the necessary congressional oversight committees have approved the center, and Congress provided $10 million for it in an annual spending bill passed this month.

Congress has spent $19 million for the facility and two interim locations.

The center will consolidate all the FBI’s records.

The General Services Administration will select the final location for the 900,000-square-foot facility, which is scheduled to open by 2010.

Two temporary offices are expected to open in a few months.

• Pay disparity

A study of whether women are paid less than men is finally getting started in Maryland, months after the legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who said such a commission wasn’t needed.

A nine-member commission was named after a September deadline for it to start making conclusions.

The delay has frustrated opponents of Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican who vetoed the Equal Pay Commission when the legislature passed it in 2004.

Lawmakers overrode the veto earlier this year.

In his veto message at the time, Mr. Ehrlich said he was “not convinced that this is a problem in need of a solution.”

The commission, which also will look at pay disparities among white workers and minorities, won’t have its first meeting until next month, the Baltimore Daily Record reported Wednesday.

State Sen. Sharon Grosfeld, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the legislation creating the commission, said it took prodding from her and other legislators to get the ball rolling.

“It was behavior on the part of the administration that was, at best, frustrating,” Mrs. Grosfeld said.

She and other lawmakers sent numerous letters to the governor’s office, as well as recommendations for appointments, she said.

Shareese DeLeaver, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the delay was not caused by Mr. Ehrlich’s opposition to the commission but because of efforts to compose the best panel.

The commission is made of two persons from labor groups, two representing the business community, two representing groups involved in equal-pay advocacy and three from academia or with research experience on the issue.

Authorization for the commission ends Sept. 30.

• Greener pastures

Bernard L. McNamee, Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general, will join McGuire Woods as a partner with a focus on representing utility and energy clients before state regulators, the law firm announced last week.

Mr. McNamee also will do some lobbying for clients of McGuire Woods and its consulting branch.

State Attorney General Judith Williams Jagdmann named Mr. McNamee chief deputy in March.

Mr. McNamee previously served as chief counsel to Mrs. Jagdmann’s predecessor, Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who resigned to run for governor.

Mr. McNamee also served as a deputy to former state Attorney General Randolph Beales, as policy director for George Allen’s U.S. Senate campaign and as a legal and policy adviser to Mr. Allen when he was governor.

“Through his years of service, Bernie has earned the trust of many decision makers in Virginia, which will be helpful to McGuire Woods’ clients,” said Stephen H. Watts II, co-leader of the firm’s energy and utilities practice.

McGuire Woods employs about 725 lawyers in 14 offices in the United States, Europe and Central Asia.

• Delivering dollars

Republicans and Democrats in Maryland are applauding U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s efforts to deliver federal funds for the Route 404 widening project.

During a visit to Denton last week, Miss Mikulski, a Democrat, announced that $18.6 million has been approved for the ongoing work.

A second lane is being added in each direction between Route 50 and the Delaware state line.

The work is being done in several stages.

State Sen. Richard F. Colburn, Dorchester County Republican, said that without Miss Mikulski’s leadership, construction wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has.

• Sentenced

A former Maryland state Senate candidate from Cambridge has pleaded guilty to a drug charge in Wicomico County.

Grason Eckel, 49, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of drug possession.

He was given a one-year suspended sentence and was ordered to serve 18 months’ supervised probation.

Mr. Eckel also must pay $500 in fines and court costs.

He was arrested in March outside the Rugged Warehouse store in North Salisbury after a police dog found the drugs in his car.

Mr. Eckel is a lawyer who ran in 2002 for the state Senate. He lost in the general election to incumbent Sen. Richard F. Colburn, Dorchester County Republican.

He also ran in the Democratic primary for the seat in 1998.

• Jim McElhatton contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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