- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PENTAGON

Northrop drops out of tanker competition

Northrop Grumman Corp. has decided not to compete against Boeing Co. for the $35 billion the Air Force will spend to buy its own fleet of refueling tankers.

Congressional and industry officials confirmed the decision Monday. It puts the Pentagon on a path to do something President Obama didn’t want to have done on his watch: pay large amounts of money to a company without its undergoing any competition.

The Obama administration said such sole-source contracts aren’t a good deal for taxpayers, but industry insiders say no other company is poised to meet the Air Force’s guidelines for the program.



UTAH

Criticism continues of 17th Amendment

SALT LAKE CITY | Utah lawmakers want more influence when it comes to choosing the state’s U.S. senators.

The Utah Senate approved a bill Monday clarifying that political parties can create a process for seeking the opinion of state lawmakers when it comes to the performance of U.S. senators and candidates for the office.

Senate Bill 250 is sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson, Draper Republican, who contends that the 17th Amendment was a mistake.

The amendment was ratified in 1913 and provides for the direct election of U.S. senators. Utah was the only state to vote against it. Previously, state legislatures elected U.S. senators.

The bill passed 20-8 and now advances to the House.

CALIFORNIA

State senator says he’s gay after arrest

SACRAMENTO | Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield says he is gay.

The conservative lawmaker came out Monday on KERN radio in Bakersfield, saying he felt compelled to address rumors that he had visited a gay nightclub near the Capitol before his arrest last week for driving under the influence.

The 55-year-old father of four said he broke the law, putting people at risk, so he owes the public an explanation.

Mr. Ashburn has consistently voted against gay rights measures since he was elected to the state Assembly in 1996.

He has said those votes reflected the way constituents in his district wanted him to vote.

NEW YORK

Paterson to show he’s still in charge

NEW YORK | New York Gov. David A. Paterson said he met with his personal attorney during the weekend amid two scandals that threaten his job.

He wouldn’t comment further at a town-hall meeting on state budget issues held Monday in Brooklyn.

Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, was peppered with questions about the budget in a room packed with New Yorkers who appeared to care little about the scandals.

He also received some support from those at the budget meeting. One attendee said he supports the Democrat strongly and hopes Mr. Paterson will finish his term.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo is investigating whether the governor, his staff and his security detail illegally contacted a woman who had accused an aide of domestic violence. A state panel also has accused him of lying to investigators about free World Series tickets.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that two-thirds of New Yorkers don’t think Mr. Cuomo should be investigating the scandals.

The Siena College poll also found that a majority of voters want Mr. Paterson to serve out his term, which ends in December.

Although the poll shows most would prefer an independent prosecutor, most also say they trust Mr. Cuomo to run a fair investigation.

The poll, released Monday, questioned 712 registered voters on Sunday. It has a margin of error of 3.7 points.

OBITUARY

Former Sierra Club head Wayburn dies

SAN FRANCISCO | Dr. Edgar Wayburn, a five-term president of the Sierra Club who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for working to preserve vast tracts of wilderness in the U.S., has died. He was 103.

The Sierra Club said Dr. Wayburn died Friday at his home in San Francisco, surrounded by family.

Dr. Wayburn was a physician who conducted his conservation work largely in his spare time.

He helped win passage of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which created millions of acres of national parkland, almost doubling the system’s land.

President Clinton awarded Dr. Wayburn the Medal of Freedom in 1999, saying he had saved more wilderness than any person alive.

COURTS

Prosecutor: Who’s paying Kilpatrick bill?

DETROIT | Authorities want to know who’s been paying the restitution of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

In a court filing Monday, the prosecutor’s office says Kilpatrick is failing to follow orders by not disclosing the source of nearly $41,000 in recent payments.

Copies of 89 money orders and bank checks were filed publicly. Some have names, but it’s not clear if they were the actual source of cash. Some were signed by Kilpatrick’s sister, Ayanna Ferguson, and others carry the name of his grandfather, Marvell Cheeks Sr., and other family members.

Kilpatrick was ordered to pay $79,011 by Feb. 19 but fell far short and now is accused of violating his probation. He also needs to pay $240,000 by mid-April.

It’s all intended to reduce Kilpatrick’s $1 million restitution to the city of Detroit. The state appeals court last week refused to strike down the special payments.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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