- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

If blue crabs could vote, who would they choose? A political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy has come up with a way to gauge political candidates — whether they are willing to work to improve the Chesapeake Bay so much that a blue crab would vote for them.

Howard Ernst, who has written on bureaucratic obstacles to Bay cleanup, said elected officials sometimes use the beloved Bay as a “cheap date.” That is, they talk to voters about how they will clean up the Bay, then when they get in office, they are not such a champion.

“All candidates will pay lip service to saving the Bay, and some elected officials can even be counted on to occasionally vote the right way on Bay issues,” Mr. Ernst told the Annapolis Capital. “But few elected officials can be counted on to actually champion the types of environmental policies that could reverse the Bay’s decline.”

He has proposed a “blue crab seal” for political aspirants — incumbents wouldn’t be considered. The criteria would include a record of environmental commitment and a belief that the Chesapeake is worth the price of restoration.

“There is a clear need for new ideas that enable the voting public to distinguish between Bay heroes and Bay zeros,” he said.

Severn River keeper Fred Kelly said a blue crab endorsement idea could work.

“The approach is a good way of letting people know who is environmentally oriented, as opposed to all those candidates saying they want to protect the waterway. Most of them don’t do [diddly squat] and actually do just the opposite,” Mr. Kelly told the newspaper.

So far, two Anne Arundel County candidates for the state legislature have gotten blue crab monikers.

Mr. Ernst said the seal is not intended to be an endorsement, because some races could have multiple candidates with a blue crab seal and some races could have no candidates on the list.

In fact, Mr. Ernst said, he would prefer if races were made up entirely of candidates with the blue crab seal.

“I would consider that an ideal situation,” he said.

Lawyer search

Republicans in Fairfax County are working to recruit a lawyer with federal government experience to challenge Democrats for the top post in the region’s largest local government.

The election is still 18 months away in November 2007, but Gary Baise of Falls Church, 65, is considering whether he will make a run for Board of Supervisors chairman. It would be the first run for local office after a 30-year career in the Nixon administration and in private practice.

Republican Party officials have said they are determined to have a competitive candidate early to help match strong fundraising by incumbent Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat seeking a second term.

Mr. Baise said Fairfax lawmakers haven’t done enough to counter rising property taxes or transportation problems. He describes himself as a fervent supporter of President Bush.

Moving up

R. Stevens Cassard, a longtime employee of Maryland’s Department of General Services, has been named secretary of the department to replace Boyd Rutherford, who recently was confirmed as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Cassard, 48, who has been with the department 18 years, was deputy secretary under Mr. Rutherford.

The announcement by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said B. Diane Wilson, an assistant secretary, will move up to become Mr. Cassard’s deputy.

Happy trails

The wedding feast was a shared burrito, the cake coconut, and the transportation of the two-wheeled variety as Rep. Rick Boucher married his longtime girlfriend at an outdoor ceremony.

With a handful of people looking on June 3, the Democrat who represents Virginia’s 9th District congressman wed Amy Hauslohner on a former railroad bridge overlooking the town of Damascus on the Virginia Creeper Trail. Officiating was U.S. District Judge James Jones, chief judge of Virginia’s Western District and a friend of Mr. Boucher’s for 30 years.

“It’s one of our favorite settings,” Mr. Boucher said.

Before the ceremony, the couple bicycled from Abingdon to Damascus on the trail. Afterward, they shared a chicken and bean burrito at the Baja Cafe. While biking back to Abingdon, they stopped at the Alvarado Train Station restaurant and shared a slice from a new coconut cake on the counter.

Mr. Boucher said he would introduce his bride to friends at a future gathering.

The bride is news editor of the Galax Gazette. She will keep her job, he said, but will not cover anything pertaining to her husband or politics. Whether he continues in his job, he said, will be up to voters in November.

He faces a challenge from Delegate Charles W. “Bill” Carrico Sr., a Republican from Grayson County.

Quitting, sort of

The mayor of Appalachia, Va., has resigned, as he faces charges of election-rigging and corruption.

But Ben Cooper apparently intends to remain on the town council despite a threat by other members to remove him.

Mr. Cooper’s attorney, Patti Church, said it is unfair to expect Mr. Cooper to leave the council on the basis of unproven charges.

Miss Church said Mr. Cooper decided to resign as mayor because handling the administrative duties was too difficult while under home electronic monitoring.

A Wise County judge placed Mr. Cooper on house arrest last month for violating the conditions of his bond by keeping a gun in his home.

The council voted 3-1 last month to begin steps to have Mr. Cooper removed from office.

A grand jury indictment in March said Mr. Cooper and 13 others fixed the 2004 council elections, buying votes with beer and cigarettes and casting phony absentee ballots.

Fight of faith

D.C. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb went right to the point when asked whether a fight over a small monument of the Ten Commandments will turn into a heated legal battle.

“It will,” he said.

The monument sits in the front yard of 209 Second Street NE, the headquarters of Faith and Action, an evangelical Christian group led by activist Rob Schenk.

City officials say the group must get a permit for the monument by the beginning of July or be fined $300 a day and risk having their property seized.

Officials with Faith and Action said they have no plans to apply for a permit.

Officials with the D.C. Department of Transportation early this month hand-delivered a letter to the group explaining their need for a permit.

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, is not so sure the monument controversy will head to court.

“We’ve bent over backwards to reach out to them,” he said. “I think they’ll get their permit.”

For the money

First lady Laura Bush had lunch in Richmond Thursday — as the featured speaker at a fundraising luncheon at the Jefferson Hotel for the Republican National Committee.

The event drew more than 40 people and raised about $450,000. Mrs. Bush returned to Washington after the luncheon.

Before going to Richmond, she spoke at the National Press Club about the president’s initiative for fighting malaria in Africa.

A fine son

New York Gov. George E. Pataki and his wife were in Virginia on Thursday to attend the graduation of their son from the Marine Corps’ basic school in Quantico.

“Libby and I are proud of Ted and all the young men and women who choose to put their lives on the line to defend our freedom,” Mr. Pataki said. “There are no finer people.”

Theodore Pataki, 24, is a recent graduate of Yale University, his father’s alma mater.

A second lieutenant, he will be heading to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for six months of artillery training.

And while Lt. Pataki pursues a career in the military, Mr. Pataki is eyeing a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

He announced last summer that he would not seek a fourth, four-year term this year.

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

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