- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010


Politician quits, made Katrina plea

JEFFERSON, La. | A prominent Louisiana politician who tearfully appealed for faster federal help on national TV after Hurricane Katrina has quit as president of the state’s most populous district.

Democrat Aaron Broussard resigned Friday as president of Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, saying through an attorney that he wanted to “clear the air” amid a federal probe of alleged government corruption.

Mr. Broussard gave a searing account of Katrina’s destruction on NBC’s “Meet The Press” soon after the 2005 storm, blasting the federal government’s early sluggish response.

He also was heavily criticized for sending parish pump workers away before Katrina hit and flooded thousands of homes.


GOP staffer dies of heart attack

Paula Nowakowski, a top aide to House Minority Leader John Boehner and one of the most influential Republican staffers on Capitol Hill, died suddenly of a heart attack Saturday evening at the age of 46, Mr. Boehner’s office announced.

Ms. Nowakowski, who helped draft the Republican “Contract With America” that led to the GOP takeover of the House in 1995, was a longtime aide to the Ohio Republican, serving as his communications director and then as staff director to the House Education and Workforce Committee.

“Words cannot adequately express the sorrow and disbelief I and every member of our team are grappling with today in the wake of this stunning news,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement on his House leadership Web site.

House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor were among those expressing condolences at the news Sunday.


Steele dismisses resignation talk

The Republican Party’s national chairman says he has had no thoughts of resigning despite criticism of his first-year performance and controversy about his recent book that takes shots at the GOP.

Michael Steele apologized for not alerting Republicans in advance about the book’s release. In the book, he accuses GOP leaders of abandoning conservative principles over the past decade.

But Mr. Steele, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” also is defending his record as party chairman, saying he’s “pushing the ball” for the GOP and helping the party win elections and raise money.

There have been recent reports that GOP leaders are unhappy with the party chairman. In response, Mr. Steele has said they either should fire him or “shut up.”


SMU, condo owner settle site lawsuit

DALLAS | A settlement between a former condominium owner and Southern Methodist University over the planned site for George W. Bush’s presidential library has been approved.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the deal involves a payment from SMU to former condo owner Gary Vodicka. The amount was not disclosed.

Mr. Vodicka described the settlement as “fair.”

SMU maintained Mr. Vodicka had no legitimate claim to the condo where he once lived. He balked at selling the property to make way for the Bush library.


Obama ad to come down

NEW YORK | An outerwear company said it will cooperate with a White House request to take down a huge Times Square billboard that uses President Obama as a pitchman.

In about two weeks, that is.

Freddie Stollmack, the president of Weatherproof, told Associated Press he had heard from the White House and decided to cooperate with its request to halt the ad campaign. But he said it will take some time. He said he hopes to remove the Times Square billboard and another one on the Long Island Expressway by Jan. 22, after figuring out a new ad campaign.

The company used a recent Associated Press photo of the president wearing one of its jackets in front of the Great Wall in China for the ad, which carries the tagline, “A Leader In Style.”


GOP pollster says Obama slipping

With the first anniversary of President Obama’s taking office next week, pollsters are finding that some who voted for him are experiencing buyer’s remorse.

“Oh, God, yes. Big time,” Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway told The Washington Times after addressing Friday’s monthly gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute at the Heritage Foundation.

Mrs. Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Company Inc., noted that while many Obama voters were enthused over the election of first black president, they are now “tremendously disappointed” with Mr. Obama’s handling of issues such as health care, rising joblessness and energy policy.

Mr. Obama’s job-approval rating among men is down 16 percentage points and among women 15 percentage points since taking office, the pollster said. Among independents, it’s likewise down 15 points. Only among blacks has the president not sustained any significant decline in approval.

Mrs. Conway, a New Jersey resident, jokingly said it was a good omen when she gave birth to her fourth child the day before last fall’s election, which saw voters pick a Republican governor in her deep-blue state. She currently is predicting that Republicans in November will pick up between 20 and 33 seats in Congress and “at least four” in the Senate in November “depending on who else retires.”


House to ask about secrecy

A House committee is planning to grill Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner about his role in the massive bailout of failed insurer American International Group Inc.

The House Oversight Committee is responding to news that key details about AIG’s bailout were suppressed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York while Mr. Geithner was its president.

A growing number of lawmakers say Mr. Geithner must explain his involvement in deals that diverted billions from AIG’s bailout to Goldman Sachs and other big banks. New York Democrat and committee Chairman Edolphus Towns says the hearing will examine the rise and fall of AIG and its business partners.

The New York Fed and Treasury say Mr. Geithner was not made aware of the e-mails that pushed for more secrecy.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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