- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Black legislators fight loan program

MONTGOMERY | Black legislators want to stop a college loan program created by the Legislature in 1955 to honor Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and still being operated by the state.

They argue that Confederate leaders fought to maintain slavery and the Jackson loans should be private, not state-supported. Advocates say the program promotes Southern heritage.


Edwards continues anti-poverty fight

HARTFORD | There is no bus, no banner, no trailing press contingent. Nevertheless, John Edwards still is campaigning, five months after ending his run for president.

Mr. Edwards Thursday brought his new anti-poverty campaign to a Hartford public housing project where residents say they have struggled for attention at the state Capitol, the Hartford Courant reports.

“I’m blessed to have been given this national voice because of my own presidential and vice presidential campaigns,” Mr. Edwards said, “but what I want to do is be a megaphone for those who are not being heard.”

Mr. Edwards, 55, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina who was the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate in 2004 and ran for the party’s presidential nomination this year, said he intends to represent people desperate to be heard.

“I’m going to make their stories heard all across this country and fight for what I think is fairness and justice in America,” Mr. Edwards said.


Governor admits cookie softness

BATON ROUGE | Gov. Bobby Jindal is a self-described chocolate-chip cookie connoisseur.

Mr. Jindal said last week that the cooks at the Governor´s Mansion made a perfect batch of cookies several weeks ago but seemed to be unable to duplicate the achievement.

Finally, the cooks admitted they were in a time crunch when the batch was produced, the governor said.

Milk was added to soften an old ball of dough found in the depths of the mansion´s freezer, resulting in Mr. Jindal´s favorite batch, he said.

The cooks agreed to make more cookies that way as long as Mr. Jindal did not offer them to anyone else, the governor joked.


Voters sign on for tax veto

AUGUSTA | The Fed Up With Taxes campaign handed in more than 90,000 signatures Tuesday to overturn tax increases passed by the Legislature earlier this year, virtually assuring the veto will appear on the November ballot, the Ellsworth American reports.

The number was collected in less than 60 days with the help of signature gatherers paid for by the industries and businesses affected by the increases. Nearly 75,000 signatures already have been certified by town and city clerks, affording a large cushion over the 55,087 needed to put the tax veto on the ballot, according to the campaign.

The secretary of state will review all the petitions again to make sure there are enough certified signatures.

Newell Augur, spokesman for the campaign and a lobbyist for the Maine Beverage Association, said the number of signatures gathered was indicative of how unpopular the new taxes are with people in Maine.

“Voters from all over the state eagerly signed our petitions because Maine families are struggling in this difficult economy. This is absolutely the worst time to be raising taxes on beverages, health care or anything else,” Mr. Augur said.


Judge says ‘no’ to parade change

ST. PAUL | A federal judge refused to grant an antiwar group’s request to change the time and route of its planned protest during the Republican National Convention in order to have more of an impact on delegates.

Judge Joan Ericksen ruled government officials had security reasons to justify the restrictions on the permit for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War.


Governor’s race becomes pricier

TRENTON | Here’s a tip for Republicans thinking about running against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine next year: Bring your own dough for the campaign. Lots of it.

New guidelines allow 2009 gubernatorial candidates to receive up to $10.4 million in state money for their campaigns, but only if they limit overall spending to $15.9 million.

That means that unless the Republican candidate is prepared to dip heavily into a personal bank account, he or she faces an uphill spending battle against Mr. Corzine, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs who has deep pockets.

The Democrat spent more than $60 million of his own money on his successful U.S. Senate run in 2000 and more than $40 million on his New Jersey gubernatorial campaign in 2005.

“A serious challenger to Corzine will have to have the ability to raise money and get lots of volunteer help from an enthusiastic base of dedicated followers,” said Peter Woolley, a Fairleigh Dickinson University political scientist. “Those requirements certainly limit the field of potentially effective challengers.”

New Jersey provides no extra financial assistance for candidates who run against wealthy opponents who spend their own money. Mr. Woolley says the state has “an outmoded system” that “may be effectively limiting free speech for candidates who are not wealthy.”


Special session would aid families

SANTA FE | Gov. Bill Richardson is asking lawmakers to approve about $200 million in rebates, tax breaks and other assistance to New Mexico families in a special legislative session that could begin in just a few weeks.

Mr. Richardson outlined a wide-ranging spending plan - everything from tax-free refrigerator purchases to road construction - made possible by the state’s oil- and gas-driven budget surplus.

“This is a little bit of relief” for residents grappling with soaring prices at the gasoline pump and facing record-high winter heating bills, he said.

The proposals also could ensure a more productive special session because the fate of health care reform - the original focus of the session and still on the agenda - remains uncertain.

The governor had planned to call lawmakers back to Santa Fe in September, but he said Thursday that “people are hurting” and he saw no reason to wait. The session could be as soon as early next month, he suggested.


NAACP wants flag removed

GREENVILLE | The NAACP has targeted South Carolina’s film industry as an economic pressure point to force the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, but a top legislative leader said last week the 2000 compromise won’t be reopened.

Lonnie Randolph, state NAACP president, told the Greenville News that the organization has asked representatives of the motion picture industry to join in its economic sanctions against the state until the flag is removed.

He said NAACP officials met with actors, actresses and other representatives of the industry last weekend to “get their input and their support in helping with this cause.”

Mr. Randolph said the responses from representatives of the industry have been “very positive.” He didn’t identify the participants or the location of the meeting.

State Sen. Glenn McConnell, Charleston Republican, the Senate president pro tempore, told the News there is “no driving emotion (in the Legislature) that I know of to reopen” the 2000 compromise that moved the flag from the Statehouse dome.

However, state Rep. Leon Howard, Columbia Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said, “It’s on the minds of a lot of lawmakers. We don’t think [the flag] should be there.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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