- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams offered some well wishes to Timothy M. Kaine, who was inaugurated as Virginia’s governor Saturday.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, sent out a note Friday saying he hopes to collaborate with Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, on issues affecting the District and Virginia.

Mr. Williams said he had a positive working relationship with outgoing Gov. Mark Warner, also a Democrat.

Since 2003, the leaders of Virginia, Maryland and the District have met for regional collaboration on matters such as homeland security and the Chesapeake Bay.

“I’m also pleased that Governor-elect Kaine appreciates the important challenges facing local governments. His service as a council member and mayor of Richmond make him a unique partner,” Mr. Williams said.

Time to account

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has proclaimed this week Accounting Awareness Week.

“As we take time next week to recognize the importance of accounting in our professional and personal lives,” Mr. Duncan said, “it is fitting to also recognize Montgomery County’s commitment to strong financial management, as evidenced by our status as one of only seven counties in the nation with a population greater than 800,000 that has the highest rating from all three credit-rating agencies.”

Mr. Duncan, a Democratic candidate for governor, urged residents to celebrate the county’s members of the Maryland Society of Accountants.

The nonprofit society has more than 3,000 Marylanders from the financial-services profession and more than 600 of them live in Montgomery County.

Fight averted

Virginia lawmakers avoided what could have been an ugly debate Friday by unanimously passing without comment a resolution commending former Delegate Gary A. Reese.

At first glance, there would be little to argue with in the resolution honoring Mr. Reese, a Fairfax County Republican who served from 2002 to last year. It praises him for his service to the commonwealth.

Mr. Reese, who bucked members of his party to vote for a $1.38 billion tax increase in 2004, was unseated in June’s Republican primary. Chris Craddock, a conservative youth minister who felt the delegate should be punished for his vote, won the nomination.

But Mr. Craddock was defeated in the general election by C. Chuck Caputo, a Democrat, losing the seat for the party.

Mr. Reese had endorsed Mr. Caputo, who coincidentally wrote the resolution.

Word had it some Republican delegates did not want to pass the resolution in a unanimous block vote with others that rarely generate controversy.

One Republican said he didn’t want to vote for the resolution because Mr. Reese had supported Mr. Caputo.

Two days in a row, some members of the majority caucus privately argued with leaders over the resolution.

Friday, Delegate Jack Reid of Henrico pulled the resolution from the block, which would have allowed debate or would have allowed some members to vote “No.”

However, lawmakers later returned the resolution to the block and approved it without discussion, apparently to avoid conflict with Republican leaders, who did not want to pick a fight.

Giving credit

Former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel says many of his fellow Democrats have let partisan animosity blind them to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s accomplishments.

“He took a state in a deficit, and three years later, we’re out of debt,” said Mr. Mandel, 85. “Someone has got to give him credit for pulling this off.”

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, this year entered his fourth year and his re-election campaign with a projected $1.7 billion budget surplus. He took office in 2003 with a nearly $2 billion deficit inherited from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.

Mr. Mandel said the budget turnaround was made more impressive by Mr. Ehrlich’s ability to fully implement the Thornton education plan, an unfunded legislative mandate to spend millions of dollars more each year to erase disparity between rich and poor public school districts.

Mr. Mandel criticized lawmakers who, for seemingly partisan motives, obstruct Mr. Ehrlich’s agenda, particularly in the House of Delegates.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, for three consecutive years has killed Mr. Ehrlich’s signature plan to legalize slot-machine gambling.

“We were never that partisan,” said Mr. Mandel, who served in the legislature under two Republican governors. He was speaker under Gov. Spiro T. Agnew and a delegate under Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin.

“I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but I’ve worked with Republican governors,” he said. “When they get elected, it is the will of the people, and the will of the people should be respected.”

Mr. Mandel served two terms as governor in the 1970s, but resigned when he was convicted of racketeering and mail fraud. He spent more than a year in prison before his conviction was overturned, and he was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.

Art criticism

A piece of art on Sen. John H. Chichester’s office wall that once raised eyebrows has been taken down.

Mr. Chichester, Stafford County Republican, has been called a RINO (Republican in name only) by conservatives for many years because of his support for higher taxes, among other reasons.

Blogger Chad Dotson, who runs the Web site Commonwealth Conservative, noticed that a drawing of three rhinoceroses hung on the wall outside Mr. Chichester’s sixth-floor Richmond office.

A host of comments were posted last week on his site, www.vaconservative.com, responding to the artwork.

One comment suggesting the names of the rhinos were “John, Fred and Charles,” after Mr. Chichester and two other Republican senators who voted with Democrats to let maverick Republican Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. keep his committee chairmanship last week.

One person defended Mr. Chichester, saying the art on the sixth floor, where the leadership holds its offices, is selected by state staffers and not the legislators.

The drawing is no longer on the wall.

Smoking ban veto

James Robey, a Democrat and chief executive of Howard County, Md., has vetoed the bill banning smoking in local bars and restaurants, saying it’s not tough enough.

The ban would have taken effect in four years, but he wants it to be in place in two. And he pledged last week that he will work on a new bill with the County Council.

The bill was approved earlier this month on a 3-2 vote.

Montgomery, Prince George’s and Talbot counties ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

mQuestion time

The Associated Press asked 10 questions of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, before his inauguration Saturday.

1. Greatest movie ever: Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” from 1941.

2. Favorite book: “Simple Justice,” 1976, by Richard Kluger. It’s about many of the key players in the Brown v. Board of Education school-desegregation fights.

3. Favorite author: George Orwell.

4. The TV show I try never to miss: “The Simpsons.”

5. Our family pet: “I promised my kids we would get a dog if I won the election, and we are now the proud new owners of Gina, a 3- to 4-year-old terrier mix we adopted from the Richmond SPCA.”

6. My favorite spectator sport: Baseball, especially minor-league baseball.

7. What I enjoy most on vacations: “Camping, and anything outdoors.”

8. What I’ll miss most about my house the next four years: “A great group of neighbors”

9. President(s) I admire most: A tie — Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman.

10. My favorite rock ‘n’ roll band: The Replacements.

Remember me?

Former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening says the state should revive his death-penalty moratorium.

Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, says he’s disappointed that neither Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, nor the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has addressed disparities in Maryland’s use of capital punishment noted in a University of Maryland study the former governor commissioned.

Mr. Glendening says the state should halt executions until it can guarantee that discrimination is not a factor and until there is no doubt about a convicted killer’s guilt.

Running again

Virginia’s senior congressman will run for a 14th term in office.

Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican, plans to officially kick off his re-election campaign Jan. 27 in Herndon.

Mr. Wolf has served in the House since 1980 and serves on the Appropriations Committee.

He won 64 percent of the vote in the 2004 election against Democrat James Socas.

Mr. Wolf’s district extends from McLean to Winchester and the northern Shenandoah Valley.

mProtecting Potts

The Virginia Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to change its procedural rules to curtail further efforts to oust dissident Republican H. Russell Potts Jr. as chairman of a key Senate committee.

The Senate voted 35-4 for Sen. Thomas K. Norment’s amendment to require a two-thirds majority of the 40 senators to strip a senator of his party affiliation and the appointments and privileges it affords.

Mr. Norment’s measure also denies incoming Republican Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling the ability to appoint support staff paid for by the Senate.

Republican conservatives on Wednesday tried to dump Mr. Potts, of Winchester, as chairman of the Education and Health Committee to punish him for running as an independent for governor last year. They fell short on a 19-20 vote.

That vote and Friday’s successful effort to insulate Mr. Potts from future attacks illustrates abiding divisions and hard feelings within the Republican Party after last fall’s elections.

Republicans feared that the Potts candidacy would dilute support for their nominee, former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. But Mr. Kilgore lost to Democrat Timothy M. Kaine by 6 percentage points. Mr. Potts finished with 2 percent of the vote.

To prevail in a new effort to remove Mr. Potts, his detractors would need 21 votes.

Not quitting

Carl Hutcherson, mayor of Lynchburg, Va., last week reaffirmed his decision to remain in office despite federal fraud accusations and the urgings of City Council members to step down.

Mr. Hutcherson was indicted last month on federal charges of mail fraud, bank fraud and lying to federal officials and obstruction of justice.

The indictment said Mr. Hutcherson and the funeral home he owns were in deep financial trouble when he took more than $30,000 from a charity connected to the church where he is pastor to pay back taxes and a personal debt of more than $100,000.

Mr. Hutcherson has temporarily stepped down as pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church.

“I certainly respect the sentiments expressed by my fellow council members,” Mr. Hutcherson said Tuesday night after a 45-minuted closed session, in which three members of the council — Joe Seiffert, Jeff Helgeson and Mike Gillette — tried to persuade him to step down.

“However, I am firm in my conviction to finish the job that I was elected to do,” he said.

• Christina Bellantoni and S.A. Miller contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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