- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hide your drinks, hide your fries

Metro Board member Peter Benjamin admitted he is taking the system’s no eating or drinking rule personally.

Mr. Benjamin suggested to Metro’s police chief at last week’s board meeting that “there’s value in an officer coming up to a person and saying, ‘You are aware you’re not allowed to eat or drink on Metro.’ “

It has been a sore subject in the past.

In 2000, a 12-year-old girl was handcuffed by a police officer for eating a french fry on a train platform.

In 2004, a scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency was handcuffed, frisked and held for three hours after an officer spotted her eating a candy bar at the Metro Center station.

Mr. Benjamin said he was traveling recently through the Gallery Place-Chinatown station at about 11 p.m. and saw “numerous” passengers eating and drinking.

“I walked up to a few of them and let them know it was against the law to eat or drink on Metro,” he said. “Some of them actually paid attention.”

No word on whether Mr. Benjamin was packing ‘cuffs.


Though his administration is as eager to repair city streets as fast as his predecessors, at a photo opportunity last week D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed hesitant to get behind the name “Potholepalooza.”

Started in 2009, under the more youthful Fenty administration, the name for the city’s pothole-repair blitz is a made-up word derived from the 1990s-era traveling musical festival Lollapalooza.

As he stood behind a podium in the middle of Jasper Place Southeast, just south of Suitland Parkway in Ward 8, the more Woodstock-era mayor turned to transportation officials to ask for a confirmation of the name.

“Potholepalooza? OK, we’re filling our potholes. We’ll go with that,” Mr. Gray said.

Left unsaid

Irvin B. Nathan, Mr. Gray’s nominee for D.C. attorney general, made a notable departure from prepared remarks at his confirmation hearing last week.

Mr. Nathan, who served as general counsel to the U.S. House before he was named to the city post in December, unexpectedly skipped over a section of his speech discussing why he declined to join all the other federal and local agencies investigating the Sulaimon Brown allegations.

Mr. Brown, a low-level mayoral candidate, has said that he received cash payments from the Gray campaign and a six-figure government job in exchange for bashing former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the stump last year.

In the undelivered 80-word paragraph, Mr. Nathan said an attorney general’s investigation would have been duplicative of other investigations, he couldn’t compel witnesses to cooperate, and he was concerned that his office would be perceived as having a conflict of interest since he serves at Mr. Gray’s pleasure.

The remarks were in the printed testimony, near the end of an 11-page document that lays out Mr. Nathan’s biography and outlines a few modest achievements since he started working for the city.

Most of the excuses came out during questioning. But did he really think the topic wouldn’t otherwise come up?

Pray for wind

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller had some fun Friday at the expense of Gov. Martin OMalley during a rare gubernatorial visit to the chamber.

Mr. O’Malley sat in on the sessions opening moments in honor of Maryland Day, which was celebrated Friday - the official date was Saturday - to mark the 377th anniversary of the state’s settlement.

After the morning invocation - delivered by a St. Marys County Navy chaplain - Mr. Miller took a playful dig at Mr. OMalley, a fellow Democrat who has struggled this session to push through many of his proposals, particularly one to implement wind energy in the state.

“While the pastor was praying for us, he was praying for his windmill bill,” Mr. Miller said, to laughs from the 47-member body. He then offered the governor a glimmer of biblically inspired hope.

“But like Lazarus rose, things can rise,” he said.

‘Do something’

A writer for a popular right-of-center blog is using his online presence to launch a bid for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Brian Schoeneman formally announced on the blog Bearing Drift that he would pursue the seat held by Fairfax Democrat Mark Keam.

“As I am fond of saying - criticizing is easy; governing is hard,” he wrote. “And while I love blogging, and I love sharing my opinions with all of you, the time has come for me to translate those opinions into action.”

Employed as a federal transportation lobbyist, Mr. Schoeneman says he’s been active with the Fairfax County Republican Party for five years and has been blogging for two years. He also writes for the blog Common Sense.

Mr. Schoeneman writes that he first thought of running for the seat when his wife suggested he “do something” instead of just ranting about issues.

• Meredith Somers, Paige Winfield Cunningham, Tom Howell Jr. and David Hill contributed to this report.

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