UPI's Capital Comment for Nov. 9, 2001

By United Press International  |  Nov. 9, 2001 at 1:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- News notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Blame game -- There is certainly enough blame to go around for Tuesday's thumping of New Jersey GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, with state party establishment types at or near the top of the list. In one case, the chairman of one north Jersey GOP organization went so far as to send letters to voters, urging them to vote against the party nominee.

Tough lesson -- In a look a the Washington social scene, post-Condit/Levy, the venerable magazine Vanity Fair tagged along as several Capitol Hill staffers went about their daily and nightly business. Unfortunately for one staffer, candor came with a big price tag -- her job. Diana Davis, a staffer to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., has tendered her resignation. The article, which includes the revelation that she had a one-night stand with a staffer whose main selling point was a boast that he knew GOP House Whip Tom DeLay, began to cause a firestorm among members of Congress.

Growing 'em young -- The new mayor of rural Mount Carbon, Penn., a small town in the eastern part of the state, is 18-year-old Jeff Dunkel. A Democrat, Dunkel was unopposed and got 43 votes in the town, which has a population of 100. He became involved in politics after studying local government in high school. "It's still a shock that I won," Dunkel said Wednesday.

Cash back -- The United Way of New York is under attack for a $171,000 grant it made to the Legal Aid Society because, a conservative group charges, some of the money may have gone to provide legal assistance "to eight individuals detained as a result of the investigation" into the Sept. 11 terror attack on New York City. According to the National Legal and Policy Center, the United Way's Sept. 11 Fund has received $334 million in contributions and pledges since the attack. The NLPC wants the United Way to take action to recover the money given to the LAS because the grant is inconsistent with the fund's intent.

Vote splitting -- Fearful that a divisive primary with racial overtones will doom efforts to take back the governor's mansion, discussion are underway among Democrats in New York aimed at convincing one of the two announced candidates to withdraw. Some insiders believe that the efforts will be futile as neither former U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo -- son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo -- nor State Comptroller Carl McCall -- who was first appointed to his current post by former Gov. Mario Cuomo -- is likely to set their own ambition aside in favor of the other.

Piece of history -- The Justice Department says it has submitted a report to Congress on the restrictions placed on "persons of Italian ancestry during World War II," as required by the Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties Act. In a little-known episode following the attack on Pearl Harbor, some U.S. residents of Italian nationality were interned in camps, though not on the scale of Japanese Americans. "The report documents federal action affecting persons of Italian ancestry within the context of wartime orders, proclamations and directives between September 1939 and December 1945," the department said.

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map -- Arizona's independent redistricting commission has given final approval to new congressional and legislative maps, drawn as a result of population changes measured by the 2000 census. The approval clears the way for the maps to be submitted to the Department of Justice for review later this month.

Change of plans? -- Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest women's political group, is asking Wisconsin Democrat U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a lesbian, to reverse course and withdraw her participation from "Creating Change," a Milwaukee conference on sexual issues sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Baldwin will be speaking at the Friday morning plenary session on "How Can Our Movement Be More Powerful." CWA objects to other seminars on the agenda including "Drag 101" for youth and a discussion that will include a look at laws regulating "intergenerational sex."

Going, going -- Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J., the longest-serving woman currently in the House, has announced plans to retire at the end of this term. Roukema, who faced a bruising primary campaign last year underwritten by the pro-free market Club for Growth -- a group with the money to back up their tremendous political muscle -- was mentioned for a sub-Cabinet position in the Bush administration during the transition period last spring.

Personnel notes -- The president has nominated Dennis Walsh, currently a member of the National Labor Relations Board, to another term to expire Dec. 16, 2004 ... Rebecca W. Watson, a partner with Gough, Shanahan, Johnson and Waterman in Helena, Mont., has been nominated to be assistant secretary of the Interior for Land and Mineral Management.

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