By Betsy Rothstein - 05/07/08 04:31 PM EDT
A senator lives next door. That should increase the property value, right?
Not so in the case of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who lives in a northeast Capitol Hill neighborhood just blocks from his office in the Senate Dirksen Office Building. Sanders lives at a beautiful historic address, but some of his neighbors are fed up with the overgrown weeds they say make his yard a monstrosity, not to mention the talk of the street. Some were joking about the matter one evening earlier this week, but there are serious undertones.
“I understand he’s a busy man, but can’t he afford a gardener?” one neighbor asked. “Or [Ortho’s] Weed-B-Gone? Basically spray the whole yard with weed killer.”
The senator’s front yard is supposed to be a bricked-in patio, but a passer-by might not know this because of the large sweeping vines crawling up the side of his home.
“The weeds have grown so high that it looks like a yard of grass as opposed to a patio,” a neighbor to Sanders told ITK. “The bushes in front of the window are way up the window. And the vines have started growing and vermin can hide in that.”
Some may note that the senator with the socialist standpoint is as rumpled as his yard. “Like house, like senator,” the neighbor said. “If you look at the four yards surrounding his, everyone takes care of their yard. I think it’s an eyesore.”
The neighbor added that when fliers are left in the yard the dwelling resembles an abandoned house. “This year is the worst because everything is just overgrown completely,” the neighbor said.
Complaints may not cease here, as there is talk among Sanders’s neighbors of taking the issue to the neighborhood association. Sanders owns the home and has lived there for two years.
“I’ve been attacked for many things in my life, but this is the first time I’ve been attacked for my weeds," Sanders said. "I can just see the 30-second negative ad."
“I’m glad I come from Vermont where neighbors actually talk to each other," he said. "In the four days a week that I usually spend in D.C., most of my time has been spent trying to address the war in Iraq, the oil crisis, global warming and the collapse of the middle class. My so-called garden is about two square feet. I’m sorry if I offended anyone and I will do my best to get rid of the 12 weeds so anyone who might want to can see the McCain sign in my neighbors’ yard.”
Pittsburgh rated most polluted city in nation; Rep. Doyle disagrees
Last week Pittsburgh topped the American Lung Association’s list of most polluted metropolitan cities in the United States, and the city’s congressman, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), wasn’t too pleased about it.
In fact, he had trouble even hearing his city being cast in such a manner.
“We’re not talking about that,” Doyle said, attempting to run away from ITK. “We’re a clean, sparkling city. I’ve lived there 30 years and it’s the cleanest it has ever been.”
In a follow-up call later to his office, Doyle said through a spokesman, “L.A.’s still the champ [of pollution], as far as I’m concerned.”
Sen. Brown dismisses McCain as ‘George W. McCain’
Many Americans may be wondering if they know enough about who Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is and what he stands for, given his relatively brief time on the national scene. But Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) thinks they ought to be asking that question about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“Voters don’t know enough about John McCain,” Brown told an audience at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Wednesday.
Brown, one of the few Democratic senators who hasn’t said if he supports Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president, predicted that as voters learn more about McCain, they will turn to a Democratic candidate.
“He’s not a bad guy,” Brown said of McCain. “He just doesn’t think about the economic issues that affect Americans every day.”
He added, “I think George W. McCain — excuse me — John McCain — clearly wants to continue the policies of George Bush.”
Brown’s wife and one daughter are “very publicly” for Clinton, while another daughter, his mother and a brother support Obama. He said he won’t announce whom he supports until the primary season ends in early June. “I’m ready for it to end, but it will work itself out,” he said.
Doggett limps back to the Hill after bike crash
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) hobbled out of the Speaker’s Lobby Tuesday on crutches and with a black boot cast on his right leg after a two-week, district-bound recovery from a bike ride gone wrong.
Sitting in a chair outside the House floor surrounded by aides and well-wishers, Doggett told ITK that he crashed his bike two weeks ago while he and his wife were making a detour from one of their favorite local bike trails for a pastry stop.
The result: a spiral fracture in his right leg. The break required surgery and will keep him off his feet for several weeks.
“I’ve got enough metal [in my leg] now to maybe set off the detectors,” he said.
Doggett missed two weeks of votes but worked from his home office while recovering from his injury. He seemed relieved to be back to work and was even seen heading to a Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee hearing on durable medical equipment.
“I could be an expert witness as well,” he said.
As for the congressman’s biking career, it’s delayed but not over.
“I’m still a member of the Cycling Caucus,” he said, “but it may be awhile before I get to participate full-time.”
Glenn blasts off into comedy routine
Former senator and astronaut John Glenn’s cameo on the Hill Tuesday turned into a stand-up comedy routine when he started in on how old he feels in light of NASA’s 50th anniversary this year.
“I also want to wish NASA a very happy birthday … It makes me feel really old,” said the former Democratic senator from Ohio and the first American to orbit Earth. He returned to Congress to promote the Discovery Channel’s new series on NASA projects and to voice support for increased funding for the space agency.
Glenn mentioned he had recently received some age-related jokes via e-mail.
The first: Three old men are walking together. One says, “It’s windy.” Another says, “No, it’s Thursday.” The third replies, “Me, too. Let’s go get a beer.”
Glenn’s delivery was smooth and the crowd roared with laughter.
So he told another.
The second joke involved an elderly woman who called her husband while he was driving to tell him she just saw a television report about a person driving the wrong way down the highway. “There’s not one, there are hundreds of them,” the man told his wife.
Again, lots of laughter for the warmed-up Glenn.
His final joke, though, was his own. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a fellow former astronaut, asked Glenn what it was like to fly in the country’s first spaceship.
“How do you think you’d feel if you were on top of 2 million parts put together by the lowest bidder on a government contract?” Glenn said.