- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2008


VP nomination a family affair

If not for flooding at a remote creek, Chuck and Sally Heath might have found out by radio that their daughter, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had been picked by Sen. John McCain to be his GOP presidential running mate.

High water kept the Heaths from reaching their gold mine, which they use as a camp to hunt caribou. They returned home, intending to drop in Friday at the Alaska State Fair, where their daughter was scheduled to take part in the ceremonial launch of the Alaska commemorative quarter.

Those plans changed with the announcement that Mrs. Palin, a first-term governor, social conservative and new mother, had been thrust into the national spotlight.

“Holy cow. I’m just kind of speechless on the whole thing,” Mr. Heath, a former elementary school teacher, told the Associated Press.

Alaska’s first gentleman, Todd Palin, called him as he and Mrs. Heath drove to the remote camp behind Gunsight Mountain, 56 miles northeast of Palmer, which is well out of cell-phone range.

“He didn’t know we were going hunting,” Mr. Heath said.

Mr. Palin told him to listen to the radio.

“He said, ‘Make sure you listen to the news from hunting camp.’ I should have put two and two together,” Mr. Heath said.

When they couldn’t cross Caribou Creek on four-wheelers, they headed back to Wasilla and reached their home at midnight.

The phone rang at 4 a.m. Friday. A friend from Atlanta was on the line, noting the buzz that Mrs. Palin was Mr. McCain’s likely vice-presidential pick. Mr. Heath said he tried her phone numbers but could not reach his daughter.

With only a few hours sleep, and with the phone ringing constantly at his home, he remained bemused by the commotion.

“I’d rather go moose hunting than be involved with politics,” he said.


Obama speech seen by 38 million viewers

Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by at least 38 million people.

Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Mr. Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final “American Idol” or the Academy Awards this year. Mr. Obama talked before a live audience of 80,000 people in a Denver stadium.

His TV audience nearly doubled the number of people who watched Sen. John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush four years ago. Mr. Kerry’s speech was seen by just over 20 million people.

And Mr. Obama’s audience might be larger, since Nielsen didn’t have an estimate for how many people watched him on PBS or C-SPAN Thursday night.


Mayor’s political future back in court

A lawyer for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick asked a judge Friday to freeze next week’s hearing, which could remove him from office, and accused Gov. Jennifer Granholm of being too biased to preside over the case.

Attorney Dan Webb also said the rules for the hearing would greatly hamper Mr. Kilpatrick’s defense. He asked for a 14-day restraining order to suspend the proceedings, scheduled to start Wednesday.

“There are some very basic rights that clearly have to be applied,” Mr. Webb told Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Ziolkowski.

The judge said he had planned to go fishing but would work on the case over the holiday weekend and make a ruling Tuesday.

The Detroit City Council is asking Mrs. Granholm to use her constitutional power to remove Mr. Kilpatrick from office for perceived misconduct. The mayor is accused of misleading council members into approving an $8.4 million settlement with fired police officers. The council has said it didn’t know the deal included provisions to keep a lid on romantic text messages between Mr. Kilpatrick and a top aide.

Mr. Kilpatrick’s lawyers filed a lawsuit Thursday, asserting the mayor can’t get a fair hearing from the governor. A key argument: Mrs. Granholm held a private meeting in May to try to settle Mr. Kilpatrick’s criminal perjury case and get him to resign.

“The governor is the only person that has the authority to remove him from office. She should have thought of this before she embroiled herself” in talks about a plea deal, Mr. Webb said.

The governor’s deputy legal counsel called the bias claim “laughable.”

John Wernet said Mrs. Granholm’s role in brokering a settlement is something judges do every day and the court’s ability to intervene in a removal hearing is “exceedingly limited.”

“This is not a criminal prosecution,” he said. “This is an administrative proceeding.”


Last respects for Tubbs Jones

Hundreds of mourners filed into church Friday to pay their respects to the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress.

Mrs. Tubbs Jones, 58, died Aug. 20 from a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm. She represented the heavily Democratic 11th District, which includes Cleveland and its eastern suburbs. She chaired the Ethics Committee and was the first black woman to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton all are expected to attend a memorial service Saturday. Mrs. Tubbs Jones was a national co-chairwoman of Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. She switched her backing to Mr. Obama in June.

Her casket was surrounded by red and white roses. She was laid to rest wearing a red Delta Sigma Theta pin — she was heavily involved in the historic black women’s sorority.

Mourner Geraldine Fletcher wore a red sequined hat and red pantsuit to honor Mrs. Tubbs Jones, who often dressed in red.

“I loved to see her dress in red. It showed power — the boldness — it meant stop, look, listen,” said Ms. Fletcher, a former Cleveland resident who lives in Pomona, Calif. “I said I’m going to wear red today for Stephanie.”


Stevens future could rest with colleagues

Sen. Ted Stevens‘ political fate could be up to his colleagues if a jury decides the Senate’s longest-serving Republican has violated the law. Mr. Stevens is to go on trial after being accused of failing to disclose more than $250,000 in home renovations and gifts from executives at oil services contractor VECO Corp. Mr. Stevens has pleaded not guilty.

If he is convicted, his name will still appear as the Republican candidate for Senate on Alaska’s November election ballot. And if the 84-year-old lawmaker then wins his seventh full term and refuses to resign, it could fall to his colleagues to decide whether he should be expelled.

“Once the jury has rendered a verdict, the Senate has a constitutional right to consider the qualifications of the member,” said Don Ritchie, an associate Senate historian.

It would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to expel Mr. Stevens. No senator has been removed in 146 years; the last was Indiana Sen. Jesse Bright in 1862. Others facing expulsion, like Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood in 1995, resigned before the Senate took a vote.

Mr. Stevens, whose trial starts Sept. 22 in Washington, said it won’t come to that. He will not discuss stepping down, withdrawing from the race or quitting the Senate. His plans are simply to first win in court, and then at the polls.

“Put this down: That will never happen — ever — OK?” Mr. Stevens said. “I am not stepping down. I’m going to run through and I’m going to win this election. The court case is going to go on. Whether it’s finished or not, I’m still going to run for re-election, OK?”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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