Granny’s gotta go

Sen. Clinton’s Rochester office is sans toilette

The peace activists in Rochester, N.Y., had a very simple plan: Occupy the local offices of New York Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer and Rep. Louise Slaughter to demand that the United States withdraw from Iraq, read the names of the war dead and “stay until arrested,” said peace activist Mike Connolly.

While two nuns from the local House of Mercy and two peace activists recently headed for Schumer’s and Slaughter’s offices, Mary Lou Lovette, a 78-year-old grandma, and Connolly headed for Clinton’s office. 

Connolly and Lovette entered Clinton’s office at 12:15 p.m., and were warmly greeted by a Clinton office staffer, who “went about her business” as the two chimed a bell between names. A Rochester police officer kept watch.

By 5 p.m. Clinton’s office wasn’t closing.

“They wanted to avoid arresting us,” said Connolly. “We coulda been there till Monday morning reading names of war dead. Trouble was, if you left [to go to the bathroom], you were locked out.”

After five hours, Lovette was hearing the increasingly insistent call of nature. Since Clinton’s office is sans toilette, a desperate Lovette looked around for a wastebasket.

The officer grew unhappy by the lavatory discussion, and said he’d arrest her for indecent exposure if she made any sudden moves on the wastebasket, said Connolly.

When she could stand it no more, she left the office for relief. When she refused to leave the hall outside the office, she was given an “appearance ticket” and a $500 fine.

Now alone in the office, Connolly was told by another officer at 7 p.m. that he could leave voluntarily or stay and receive an appearance ticket. Connolly left.

 “We are not willing to be ignored,” said Connolly.

Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines confirmed there are no bathrooms in Clinton’s Rochester office.

He repeated a version of the same line that Clinton and her office have used before:

“Senator Clinton understands their frustrations and shares many of them. … If President Bush refuses to change course and redeploy our troops before he leaves office, Senator Clinton will do so as president.”

Asked for specific comment on a grandmother considering the use of the Clinton office wastebasket as a latrine, Reines had no canned statement ready to go and declined to comment.



Colbert: Behind the scenes

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) appeared on “The Colbert Report” last week. But what didn’t air?

During the hour and a half-long interview in his Rayburn office, Hinchey says, the pair “sang songs together” — one from the Eagles, another from The Band, and another from Orleans.

Hinchey said the interview was “relaxed and fun.” He called Colbert a “very talented guy.”



Rep. Sherman at ease with five-day workweek

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has no problem with the new five-day workweek implemented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“My campaign consultant has assured me that I’ll get reelected the less time I spend in my district,” said Sherman last week. “It’s a little joke. It’s not that funny, but what do you want from a campaign consultant?”



Sen. Carper still limping around

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was spotted limping along a marble hallway on the Senate side of the Capitol last week in a bulky, black orthopedic boot. The 60-year-old senator broke a bone in his right foot earlier this month while running a half marathon in Wilmington. “Stepped on a stone,” said Carper, who, despite the pain, finished the race.   

The boot is scheduled to remain on the senator’s foot for eight to 12 weeks, said Bette Phelan, Carper’s spokeswoman.



Sensenbrenner bashes committee management under Conyers’s gavel

Things grew nasty at the Judiciary Committee’s recent markup of the D.C. voting bill when panel Republican James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), not known for his delicate manner, criticized Chairman John Conyers Jr.’s (D-Mich.) management of the committee.

“Wide open spaces on the majority side of the aisle are a shocking indication to how this committee is being run,” Sensenbrenner said. “Serious debates require attention and priority of all members of the committee. [When I was chairman] I had the power to roll votes.”

Committee Democrats were quick to defend Conyers.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) told Conyers that she was “surprised by the diatribe of the gentleman and how he admonished you for how you run this committee.”

Conyers brushed off Sensenbrenner’s comment. Last week he remarked, “I’m beyond that. My thick skin has thickened in the several years of working here. I’ve got much bigger fish to fry.”

Of course, Sensenbrenner, in fish form, might be a barracuda.



Sens. Leahy and Coburn struggle to find common ground

Meetings among senators can be testy. Or they can be lighthearted. And sometimes, the two moods get confused.

Last week during a business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tried to make a light jab at Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who isn’t known for levity. The subject wasn’t exactly light: They were voting on subpoenas for White House aides in connection to the U.S. attorney scandal.

At one point Coburn made an analogy to the delicacy of negotiations.   “You can say no,” he said. “My wife said no to me the first four times I asked her on a date.” 

Leahy interjected, “Wise woman.”

Coburn obviously wasn’t in the mood to joke. “She hasn’t said no in 39 years,” he replied.

Later in the hearing, Leahy tried again to make nice when Coburn remarked, “I’m not the White House’s favorite Republican. I have quite an independent streak.”

Again, Leahy tried to find common ground by saying, “I’m not their favorite Democrat.”

Coburn didn’t laugh.



Kingston feeling separation anxiety from hideaway

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) had prime real estate in the Capitol until the Democrats took over in January. His longtime hideaway, located at the base of the stairs leading up a stairwell to the Speaker’s Lobby, was small but pleasant and pristine.
Now the hideaway belongs to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).

“If he’s rearranged it from the way I had it, we’ve gone downhill,” remarked Kingston last week. He joked, “One day, I cry. [The next] I want to pick up a Coca-Cola and smash it in the door and say, ‘Miller, you don’t belong here!’”

To get away from it all, Kingston says he has his own private tailgate party in the Rayburn garage. “The noise doesn’t get you as much as the carbon monoxide,” he said.

Kingston added seriously, “The real estate around here goes with the majority and I understand that.”



Sighting: Norm Mineta at National Portrait Gallery

Former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and a small entourage of four people were recently spotted in Chinatown at the National Portrait Gallery receiving a private tour.

Seen in the “America’s Presidents” section, he was overheard remarking, “Now, he was a real tough one” while viewing the portrait of Andrew Jackson.



Announcements

Rep. Cooper’s press secretary dies of cancer


Rep. Jim Cooper’s (D-Tenn.) longtime press secretary, Murfy Alexander, died last week at Nashville’s St. Thomas Hospital after a lengthy struggle with ovarian cancer. She was 53.

Alexander, a native of Bell Buckle, Tenn., worked for Cooper at two different times — the first time in 1993, the next in 2002.
According to the Nashville Post, she died last Wednesday night surrounded by family and friends.



In Virgin Islands, 2 GOP flacks get engaged

Chris Taylor, the Republican National Committee’s Midwest regional press secretary, and Rachel Bauer, press secretary for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), took a quick weekend trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

That’s where Taylor worked up the courage to ask Bauer to spend the rest of her days collaborating on GOP message, and all the rest that goes along with marriage.

Congratulations are to the now-engaged GOP flacks.

 


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