No alternatives -- At last week's dinner of the American Alternative Foundation, formerly the gathering that celebrated the conservative American Spectator magazine, the late Barbara Olson, best-selling author and Washington power lawyer, was very much in attendance -- in spirit if not in body.
Her husband, U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, accepted on her behalf the group's annual award for excellence in journalism -- which, it was announced, had been renamed for her. He brought laughter to the room as he recounted his efforts to bring down Barbara's expectation that her first book, Hell to Pay -- published several years ago -- would be a bestseller before the first page had even been written. Ted recalled telling her that she would be lucky if the book sold 5,000 copies in hardcover. For the record, it made the New York Times best-seller list and is still in the Amazon.com top 200.
The group also viewed a 10-minute tribute film, put together by several of her close friends, which celebrated her life and achievements. As could be expected, there were few dry eyes left in the house as the final shot, "Love, Ted" written in her husband's hand, faded from the screen.
A scholarship fund in her memory has been created at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, her alma mater. Contributions will be used to help women attend law school who exemplify her ideals and vision. Contributions may be made out to Cardozo Law School -- Barbara Olson Scholarship Fund, Attn: Office of Development, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 55 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10003. For more information or to make contributions by credit card, call the Development Office at 212-790-0288.
When art imitates life -- Just as George Bush has been declared the winner of Florida in yet another media-generated recount, news comes from Hollywood that yet another recount may be in the offing. Valerie Harper, better known to America as "Rhoda," was recently defeated in her bid for the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild, losing to Melissa "Half-Pint" Gilbert by 1,588 votes. Now Harper, joined by Treasurer-elect Kent McCord (Jim Reed on Adam-12) and Recording Secretary-elect Elliott Gould (former husband of Diva Barbara Streisand, among other things), are challenging the results, arguing that major discrepancies in the election process, including problems with the design of some of the ballots, may have distorted the results. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Harper repeatedly stressed that her intentions are not to overturn the results but rather to ensure that the election process is cleaned up."
The Harper campaign has not indicated whether they will retain the services of Gore recount attorney David Boies as they move through the challenge phase.
On the mend -- Former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, a real estate developer who resigned from office following a fraud conviction, is recovering from prostate surgery in a Phoenix hospital. Symington's conviction was overturned in 1999, and the former governor received a pardon from President Bill Clinton late in his term -- giving Symington a clean bill of legal health.
Economic security -- The liberal groups Campaign for America's Future and the American Association of University Women joined with congressional Democrats to highlight the issue of economic security on Tuesday. Rep. Jan Shakowsky, D-Ill., and representatives of both groups were scheduled to address the media from Capitol Hill while other events to bring the issue to the fore went on elsewhere in the country.
In denial -- New York State Democrat officials, responding to Monday's item about the resignation of state party chairman Judith Hope, categorically denied her decision had anything to do with the loss of the New York City mayoral race or her call to cut the number of Democrats running for governor to one. A statement released by a party consultant quotes Hope saying, "After seven amazing and wonderful years, it is time for me to get some rest. So, I will move on and give someone else a chance at what it is surely one of the best political jobs in America."
Re-enlisting -- The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian political group, is praising a decision by the Salvation Army to reverse its recent move to permit army territories and divisions to offer so-called domestic partner benefits to those who are not family members, including the unmarried and homosexual partners of employees.
Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map -- Reports coming down from New York State suggest a re-districting surprise may be in the offing as Assembly Democrats, Senate Republicans and GOP Gov. George Pataki try to figure out how to eliminate two congressional seats from the state. There is general agreement that one seat from each party will go -- with the GOP losing the seat held by Rep. Ben Gilman, former chairman of the House International Relations Committee. The shocker is that, rather than eliminate the Bronx/Westchester County seat held by Elliot Engel -- which losing Democrat mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer may be eyeing -- multi-term Democrat incumbents John LaFalce and Louise Slaughter may end up in the same seat.
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