- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

Two groups with military ties don’t much like the two men running for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat. One called for a public apology from the Democratic challenger and the other slammed the Republican incumbent’s record involving the troops.

At a press conference Wednesday in Richmond organized and paid for by Republican Sen. George Allen’s re-election campaign, six Naval Academy graduates — five of them women — attacked Democrat James H. Webb Jr. for comments he wrote about women in the military in 1979.

At the same time, VoteVets.org, a nonprofit political action committee representing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, released a 30-second television ad criticizing Mr. Allen’s 2003 vote to table a measure that it says would have provided $1 billion to help procure equipment, including much-needed body armor, for Reserve and National Guard troops.

“Senator Allen talks a lot in this campaign about supporting the troops and veterans,” said Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org, which is not endorsing Mr. Webb. “We think the people of Virginia need to know that Senator Allen let the troops down, and he voted against them when they needed him the most.”

The vote for the amendment fell almost exclusively along party lines. Fifty-one Republicans and one Democrat voted to table it.

Allen spokesman Dick Wadhams called the ad a “blatant lie” and said Mr. Allen has supported body-armor improvements for the military. Mr. Wadhams cited recent votes in favor of vehicle protection and body armor.

Meanwhile, the Naval Academy graduates asked Mr. Webb to apologize for writing that “there is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. And their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation.”

Retired Cmdr. Kathleen Murray, a 1984 Naval Academy graduate, said she thinks Mr. Webb’s attitude and philosophy were major factors behind “the unnecessary abuse and hazing received by me and my fellow women midshipmen.”

Cmdr. Jennifer Brooks, a 1982 graduate of the academy, agreed: “Don’t get me wrong, James Webb did not create harassment against women at the academy, but I truly believe he legitimized it and increased its intensity.”

Mr. Webb apologized Wednesday.

“The article was written during a time of great emotional debate over a wide array of social issues in this country, and the tone of this article was no exception,” he said. “Many leading military figures, including the commandant of the Marine Corps, shared my concerns in these areas. … I did not anticipate the widespread reaction to this magazine article, and to the extent that my writing subjected women at the Academy or the active armed forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.”

• Long-winded

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is so well-known for her lengthy speeches on the benefits and nuances of D.C. voting rights that reporters have starting taking bets on how long she can talk.

At her appearance at D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ weekly press conference Wednesday, seven reporters, photographers and cameramen made $2 bets on the length of her scheduled remarks.

Tom Sherwood, political reporter for WRC-TV (Channel 4), bet that Mrs. Norton would speak for 9 minutes. Mark Segraves with WTOP Radio guessed 13 minutes. Pege Gilgamon, a camera operator with WJLA-TV (Channel 7), won the bet — and $14 — with her guess of 20 minutes.

Mrs. Norton spoke for 16 minutes and three seconds. The subject was the next day’s hearing on the D.C. Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act.

Her verbosity also appeared to tire Mr. Williams, who seemed to be snoozing during a portion of the speech.

• A little blush?

U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the Democratic nominee for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat, received a coating of makeup from veteran movie makeup artist Terri Trupp before his victory party at the Wyndham Baltimore hotel Tuesday night.

Miss Trupp, whose film credits include “Ladder 49,” “Minority Report” and “Homicide: The Movie,” also had applied makeup on presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat.

• Knock, knock

Adrian M. Fenty is vowing to continue the door-to-door campaigning that won him the Democratic primary to be the nominee for mayor of the District — this time on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Fenty said he will knock on every door in Congress to push for full representation for the city and to get more legislators on board.

The Ward 4 D.C. Council member is expected to win big against Republican David W. Kranich and Statehood-Green Party candidate Chris R. Otten in the Nov. 7 general election. Mr. Fenty already is working with outgoing Mayor Anthony A. Williams on a transition. The new mayor will be sworn in Jan. 2.

Mr. Williams has mentioned the voting-rights issue in hundreds of speeches throughout the U.S. and while traveling abroad. But he is not known for mobilizing residents, as Mr. Fenty has promised to do.

Mr. Fenty is among many city officials who support a House bill that would give the city one vote in the House.

• The O.C.? Not

Facing the prospect of being without a job for the first time in 51 years, William Donald Schaefer wasn’t kidding last week when he mentioned running for mayor of Ocean City, Md. It appears, however, that he is not eligible to run.

Town officials told the Baltimore Sun that Mr. Schaefer can’t meet the town’s four-month residency requirement before tomorrow’s filing deadline. Although Mr. Schaefer owns property in Ocean City, the state attorney general has said previously that one of the factors for residency in the resort is voting there. Mr. Schaefer votes in Baltimore.

Current Mayor Rick Meehan — appointed in June when James N. Mathias Jr. was named to fill a seat in the House of Delegates — is the only candidate who has filed for the office.

But spokesman Michael Golden said Mr. Schaefer’s eyes lit up when the idea was proposed the day after he finished third in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Schaefer lost his bid Tuesday for a third term as state comptroller, ending a 51-year election winning streak in Baltimore and statewide campaigns.

• Key endorsement

Virginia Sen. George Allen, a Republican, got the endorsement Tuesday of a senior black Democratic state legislator, a valuable boost after a month of battling anger after he used what can be considered a racially tinged slur to refer to a man of Indian descent.

State Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III of Richmond cited Mr. Allen’s support of funding for black higher education institutions in a letter to the latter’s Senate office.

Mr. Allen is involved in an unexpectedly difficult re-election fight with Democrat James H. Webb Jr., a former Republican in his first bid for elected office. A statewide poll released Sept. 9 showed that Mr. Allen had lost the commanding lead he held just six weeks earlier and that the race is about even.

“Because we have worked well together over the years on many issues, and especially because you have delivered on your promises to support Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities, I am pleased to support you in your re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Mr. Lambert wrote.

• Official lingo

A member of the Taneytown, Md., Council wants to make English the town’s official language.

Paul E. Chamberlain Jr. said the idea occurred to him after he heard from some of his neighbors. He said the proposal would not affect languages spoken at home, in churches or even in public. But it would ensure that government business is conducted in English and that translators would be available when federally mandated.

Mr. Chamberlain said having English as the official language would encourage non-native speakers to learn the language.

• A long walk

A West Virginia grandfather arrived in the District on Wednesday, ending a 455-mile walk to draw attention to pollution near an elementary school in Raleigh County.

Ed Wiley, 49, met with Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, in the nation’s capital. He also planned to meet with Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Wiley left Charleston on Aug. 2 to raise awareness about the location of Marsh Fork Elementary, next door to a coal refuse pond and preparation plant. He also hoped to build public support to build a school in a different location.

Mr. Wiley represents a local fundraising campaign called Pennies of Promise, which has said a new school would cost $5 million.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has twice denied Goals Coal Co.’s application to build a second coal silo next to the school.

The Massey Energy subsidiary wants to build a 168-foot-tall silo 260 feet from the school. But those plans drew protests last year because of concerns over student health and the environment. Richmond-based Massey operates an identical silo, built in 2003, 225 feet from the school.

The silo stores coal and loads rail cars 150 feet from school grounds. After loading, the operation sprays a binding agent over the coal.

• Road warriors

Republican leaders in Virginia’s House of Delegates have thrown their support behind legislation to require the Virginia Department of Transportation to pursue private-sector help for road-building and to require the state to streamline its environmental-review process for construction projects.

Speaker William J. Howell and Delegate Leo C. Wardrup, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said their package of bills is part of the Republican-dominated House’s attempts to “reform, streamline and modernize” VDOT operations and reiterated the chamber’s continued opposition to increasing taxes for a dedicated funding source for state transportation projects.

Mr. Howell, Stafford Republican, said that VDOT “continues to deliver its services in an outdated manner,” and that the agency “has yet to establish or adopt performance measures to reduce traffic congestion for the benefit of Virginia’s commuters, families, businesses, environment and economy.”

Although the legislation’s ideas largely aren’t new, the House Republican leadership now is demanding that VDOT change, instead of just requesting the agency to, said Mr. Wardrup, Virginia Beach Republican.

“A lot of these are repeat stories, folks. We’ve been beating this drum literally for the last two years in order to try to get some reforms at VDOT,” Mr. Wardrup said.

The measures are part of a larger package of House proposals to be considered when the General Assembly reconvenes Sept. 27 for a special session to address transportation, the source of this year’s unprecedented budget impasse.

• Asking for help

The Culpeper, Va., Town Council has voted to ask the area’s congressional delegation for federal intervention and assistance as local officials consider cracking down on illegal aliens.

The council also agreed last week to look into hiring a zoning enforcement officer to investigate violations of an ordinance governing extended families or unrelated people living in a single-family home.

The ordinance generally prohibits more than five unrelated persons from living together.

Council member F. Steve Jenkins is pushing to hold accountable landlords and employers who house or hire illegal aliens, saying they are a financial drain on schools, social services and courts.

Local Hispanics and others have protested Mr.Jenkins’ efforts, saying that illegal aliens pay sales and gas taxes, and that they pay into Social Security for benefits they are unlikely to collect.

Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican whose district includes Culpeper, has said he is willing to help solve what he calls a growing national crisis. The Town Council also voted to ask Sens. John W. Warner and George Allen for help.

• Playing polo

Get ready to scratch “Host the Polo Team of England” off Virginia’s to-do list.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Thursday announced that the state will host the Polo Team of England, whose patron is His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales (better known as Prince Charles), as it plays the United States in the first Americas Cup of Polo on May 12 at Morven Park in Leesburg.

The Americas Cup of Polo will mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown.

“Virginia will be honored to welcome England’s polo team and dignitaries next year as part of America’s 400th Anniversary Weekend,” Mr. Kaine said. “Jamestown 2007 is an incredible opportunity for our countries to celebrate our unique history and bond, and this event is an important part of the commemoration.”

“Virginia’s history is intertwined with British history, making next year the perfect time for English visitors to come and experience not only Jamestown, but all Virginia has to offer,” said Alisa L. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Tourism Corp.

S.A. Miller, Seth McLaughlin , Amy Doolittle and Gary Emerling contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.



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