- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2012

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and other city hall types have nothing but praise for Brian Hanlon.

Mr. Hanlon, director of the city’s Department of General Services, stood beside Mr. Gray and other dignitaries Wednesday to unveil a new playground close to Dunbar High School in the Truxton Circle area of the city.

One by one, officials joined the mayor in touting the collaborative spirit that has improved recreation centers across the city, ostensibly reducing crime as youth channel their energy into competitive sports and playful endeavors.

Mr. Hanlon received a large share of the credit, including this superlative: “Brian Hanlon is the best-ever DGS director.”

Hey now! If that’s not a feather in your cap, then what is? At the podium, Mr. Hanlon said he even told his mother about his vaunted status.

But officials couldn’t help but crack a smile. After all, the DGS was created last year to consolidate the capital construction and real property management functions of several other District agencies.

Mr. Hanlon is its first-ever director.

Dueling endorsements

When groups such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform endorse a Republican candidate or organizations such as the League of Women Voters endorse a Democrat, it generally doesn’t rate much more than a raised eyebrow.

But U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine touted endorsements Friday from two groups that don’t have quite the ironclad history of toeing the party line in Virginia in recent years.

The Virginia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the Republican Mr. Allen at its convention in Fairfax, while the Virginia Credit Union League endorsed Mr. Kaine, a Democrat.

Though the order has traditionally endorsed Republican candidates nationally, Virginia has a bit of a different recent history.

The group supported former Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, when he ran for attorney general in 1993 but flipped to his opponent, Democrat Donald S. Beyer, in Mr. Gilmore’s successful race for governor in 1997. It also endorsed Democrat Mark R. Warner in his successful Senate run in 2008 — when he defeated Mr. Gilmore.

Democrat Mary Sue Terry won two campaigns for the state’s attorney general position with the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police, but the group notably flipped to endorse Mr. Allen in his winning 1993 gubernatorial race against Ms. Terry. The union also endorsed Mr. Allen in his 2000 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Chuck Robb and his unsuccessful 2006 bid against Sen. Jim Webb, the man he’s currently trying to replace. Former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, won the order’s support when he lost to Mr. Kaine in the state’s 2005 gubernatorial race.

Meanwhile, the credit union trade group actually endorsed Mr. Allen in his 2006 contest against Mr. Webb and supported Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in his 2009 gubernatorial race against state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat.

Shop in Maryland, or else

Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot issued a warning to the public this week: Buy from Maryland businesses during the state’s upcoming tax-free shopping week or go to jail.

His message wasn’t a direct threat, but rather a humorous pitch aimed at drumming up sales during the annual event, which allows shoppers to buy shoes and apparel worth up to $100 per item without paying the state’s 6 percent sales tax.

The Democrat’s office took to YouTube to spread the word this month, posting a one-minute video that parodies DirecTV’s ad campaign in which TV viewers unleash calamitous chains of events by choosing not to buy satellite service.

The comptroller’s video features a man — played by Franchot spokesman Joseph H. Shapiro — who shops outside of tax-free week, which leaves him with too little money for a date, which forces him and his date to dine in.

The man’s roommate — played by Delegate Craig J. Zucker, Montgomery Democrat — then steals his date, which forces him to smuggle cigarettes in hopes of making enough money to win her back, which gets him arrested and thrown in jail.

Got that?

“Don’t let that happen to you,” Mr. Franchot says at the end. “Shop tax free in Maryland.”

If you’re looking to avoid jail time, Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week began Sunday and ends Saturday.

David Hill, Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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