- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

D.C. lobbyist Michael Brown is the front-runner in the D.C. mayoral race, with a lead of 25 percentage points, according to a poll released by the D.C. Alliance for Youth Advocacy this month.

But the majority of “voters” who participated in that citywide poll will not be casting ballots in September’s Democratic primary because they are underage.

The straw poll, conducted at a youth forum late last month, shows Mr. Brown with 56 percent of the vote.

Marie Johns, a former Verizon executive, had 31 percent; D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, 5 percent; Artee Milligan, executive director of Metropolitan/Delta Adult Literacy Council, 5 percent; and council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat, 3 percent.

Other polls show the mayor’s race is a dead heat between Mr. Fenty and council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat.

A poll commissioned by the Foggy Bottom Association found Mr. Fenty was preferred by 34 percent of those contacted, while Mrs. Cropp received 28 percent of the support.

In the Foggy Bottom poll, Mr. Brown and Mr. Orange each pulled 4 percent of Democrats contacted, and Mrs. Johns had 2 percent. Mr. Milligan was not included in that poll.

Mrs. Cropp did not receive a single vote in the youth forum’s straw poll.

• In with the new

This month’s election in Princess Anne, Md., has created the first majority-black town commission in the 233-year history of the Somerset County seat and strengthened ties between Princess Anne and its neighbor, the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES).

Steve Golston, 42, and Tanitta Thomas, 26, easily won four-year terms. Both are black, bringing to three the number of black members on the five-member commission.

The historically black university, which sits just outside the town boundaries, has had few connections to Princess Anne. So, the election of Mr. Golston and Miss Thomas forges a stronger link between the school and the town.

“We know how it was, but we’re not so affected by the prejudice that happened here,” said Mr. Golston, a Chicago native lured to the Eastern Shore by a basketball coaching job at UMES.

“It’s obvious there’s more cooperation between the town and the university,” Mr. Golston said. “And we need to improve on that.”

Miss Thomas is a UMES graduate who handles health care claims at a hospital in nearby Salisbury. She said the town can work with the university to develop.

“If we can get mutual support and use the university’s resources, Princess Anne can really become a great town,” she said.

Princess Anne, which has about 2,600 residents, is 60 percent black.

“This is a diverse town, and it ought to be represented that way,” said Frank White, the commission president, who is white.

For the most part, college life has centered on the campus. But even before the election, Princess Anne officials began efforts to improve ties, scheduling a meeting on campus and pledging to have similar sessions three or four times a year.

The town also has asked university officials to join a panel studying growth in the community. Princess Anne officials are encouraging prospective businesses that might draw students. And there have been discussions about a fast-food franchise and a bookstore that might lure students into the town’s business district.

• Unbecoming remark

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. dismissed Robert J. Smith from the Washington Suburban Transit Commission last week for making derogatory remarks about homosexuals on a cable television show.

Mr. Smith, who also was on Metro’s board of directors, appeared on “21 This Week” to discuss the U.S. Senate vote to block a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” He referred to homosexuality as deviant behavior.

“Robert Smith’s comments were highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “They are in direct conflict to my administration’s commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance and opportunity.”

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, is seeking re-election this year.

The announcement was made hours after D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who is openly homosexual, demanded an apology from Mr. Smith during the Metro Board meeting Thursday. Mr. Smith refused, prompting Mr. Graham to call for his removal.

“He was clueless to the end,” Mr. Graham said.

The seven-member Transit Commission reviews funding and sets policy for public transit projects in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The six-member Metro Board sets policy for the region’s public transit system.

Mr. Smith will be replaced on both bodies by Raymond J. Briscuso Jr. of Bethesda, who runs a biotechnology consulting firm.

Mr. Briscuso will serve the remainder of Mr. Smith’s three-year term, which began in June 2004. The state Senate must vote to confirm the appointment in the 2007 session.

• Still playing ball

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams remains committed to opening an Office of Baseball in the city, despite opposition in the D.C. Council.

Mr. Williams said last week that even if the council refuses to provide the $750,000 request to run the office, he could create it by executive order.

The mayor said the office is needed to help advance projects and improve communication related to the new Nationals ballpark, which is being built on the banks of the Anacostia River in Southeast.

Several groups are involved in the ballpark project. The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission is overseeing construction and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. is charged with developing an adjacent entertainment district.

• Left Coast boost

A congressman from California wants to help the District regain the right to lobby for congressional voting rights.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, last week said he will introduce an amendment to the District’s federal appropriations bill.

For years, the city’s federal funding has come with the stipulation that no taxpayer dollars can be spent to lobby for boycotts, statehood or voting rights.

Mr. Rohrabacher’s plan would remove only the ban on lobbying for voting rights. The other two rules against lobbying would remain.

The District is the only place in the world where U.S. citizens have to pay federal taxes but are not represented in Congress, he said.

• Change at the beach

Rick Meehan was sworn in last week at the mayor of Ocean City, replacing Jim Mathias who was named to the House of Delegates by Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Describing himself as a consensus builder, Mr. Meehan said his style is different from his predecessor’s “gregarious effusiveness.”

The transition happened swiftly. Mr. Mathias resigned last Monday afternoon, ending a decade in office. In Annapolis, he replaces DelegateK. Bennett Bozman, who died in April.

Mr. Meehan, the former City Council president, was sworn in Monday evening.

The night Mr. Meehan moved up, Jim Hall was elected unanimously to take over as council president, and Nancy Howard was elected council secretary.

• Old college try

The money still is tied up in state budget negotiations, but Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine went ahead Wednesday and gave the New College Institute the force of law.

Actually, the governor had signed legislation creating the Southside college a couple of weeks ago. But he repeated the gesture at a ceremony at Chatmoss Country Club in Martinsville so he could celebrate with the community, spokesman Kevin Hall said.

“The New College Institute will play a key role in our effort to expand access to higher education opportunities, and it will be critical to the entire Southside region as we move into a century in which knowledge has become the currency of the marketplace,” Mr. Kaine said.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat who has supported the institute for the past two years, called its creation “an important step forward towards economic recovery in the region” during his State of the Commonwealth address in January. The area has suffered with the loss of furniture and textile jobs.

Barry Dorsey, the institute’s executive director, announced that the school will offer a pilot program beginning in the fall under alliances with Longwood, Radford and Averett universities, the University of Virginia and Ferrum College. The courses are in a half-dozen programs, he said, and eight to 10 more may be added next year.

• For home rule

Elected leaders in Carroll County, Md., want the power to pass more laws without first getting permission from the Democrat-controlled General Assembly in Annapolis.

The county commissioners, all Republicans, said Thursday they want to put a “home rule” referendum on the ballot in November.

They are making plans for public hearings and informational meetings on the issue.

The filing deadline to put the issue on the ballot is Aug. 21.

The announcement was made one day after state lawmakers failed to approve district boundaries for this fall’s elections for five county commissioner seats.

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

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