Capital Comment for Feb. 6

Feb. 6, 2002 at 6:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- News, notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International

What's in a name? -- The Houston Astros baseball team wants the Enron name off of their new stadium. In 1999, the now-bankrupt Enron agreed to pay the Astros $100 million over 30 years for the right to stick their name on the stadium. The team says they have been "materially and adversely affected by the negative public perception" of the company's bankruptcy and the no-so-subtle hint of scandal therein. Of course, Enron has a $3.65 million payment coming due at the end of August and it is probably not a stretch to suggest that getting paid may also factor into the decision. No guesses yet about which company's name would replace Enron but one relatively safe bet is that it won't be Global Crossing.

Hitchin' a ride -- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, the fiery liberal, is coming under fire in the latest issue of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard. According to writer Sam Dealey, Jackson Lee has a staff member pick her up in a government car each morning to take her to work. That might not be a head-turning event except that she lives, according to Dealey, in an apartment building whose entrance is 200 paces -- yes, paces -- from the building where her office is located. Watch this space.

Promoting general welfare -- The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that tends toward the pro-government line, has adopted a welfare reform reauthorization policy that it will suggest states follow. The blueprint released this week addresses state flexibility, block grants, time limits, work requirements, marriage and other issues that are sure to be at the center of the federal debate over continuation of the program. In an unusual display of unanimity, both political parties agree the reform has been a success beyond the expectations of everyone involved.

If it walks like a duct -- The American Conservative Union's Kerri Houston says she is afraid of Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain. She isn't losing sleep at night, but she is nevertheless concerned about why McCain thinks she should go to jail.

Houston is referring to provisions in the campaign finance regulation legislation that McCain supports that includes jail time as one of the potential penalties. "Under Sen. McCain's bill, I could go to jail for publicly expressing my opinion about a politician within 60 days of an election. I don't want to go to jail. I do want to have the ability to exercise my first amendment rights of free speech and petition." If the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan effort fails, Houston says she will be on her guard. "What will McCain do next?" she says, "Follow me around with duct tape?"

You've got to have friends -- New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the state's most powerful Democrat, is endorsing Comptroller Carl McCall's gubernatorial campaign. Democrat McCall is making a bid for the nomination against former U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo -- the man who made McCall Comptroller in the first place -- for the right to challenge Gov. George Pataki in November.

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