By Jeff Dufour - 03/14/06 12:00 AM EST
Even former senators aren’t immune to this city’s morass of bureaucracy and regulations.
Last week, former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) was served with a complaint to foreclose on a parking space she owns in conjunction with her unit at the Court Condominiums at 240 Maryland Ave. N.E.
People often “pay tax on their residence but not on their parking space,” said Charles Gormly, an attorney who represents the Canyon Property Group, the plaintiff in the filing.
As is typical, the city auctioned to a private party — in this case Canyon — the right to collect the tax on the property in its annual tax-lien auction. If the tax is not paid, Canyon reserves the right to claim ownership of the property.
“It’s worth a lot a block away” from the Capitol, Gormly said.
But according to Carnahan’s son Tom Carnahan, the event is as minor as it is common. In a refrain similar to a number of D.C. property owners, he said last week that “the notices weren’t getting to my mom’s address.”
Nevertheless, mail delivery aside, taxes are still ultimately the owners’ responsibility, and he said a check is in the mail for $600 to cover all taxes and fees. “Of course, mom wants to pay her taxes, and she will,” he added.
His brother Russ Carnahan currently serves in Congress as a Democrat from Missouri’s 3rd District but has his own place and doesn’t live in his mother’s former residence. The condo is rented to another, unspecified tenant.
Dellums won’t say lobbyist, can’t say congressman
In yet another sign that “lobbyist” has become a dirty word, former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-Calif.), who is running for mayor of Oakland, has refused to list his occupation as “lobbyist” on the June 6 ballot, even though that’s what he’s been doing since leaving Congress in 1998.
Dellums had initially listed “retired congressman” on the form, but a City Hall employee informed the campaign — with some help from Dellums’s rivals — that the law requires candidates to list their most recent jobs or to leave the space blank.
When given the choice, Dellums opted for the latter.
According to records filed with the U.S. Senate, the famously liberal Dellums’s most recent clients include Rolls-Royce North America, AT&T and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. His disclosures show he earned about $270,000 from those clients in 2004.
City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who is running against Dellums, said being clear about one’s recent job is an honesty issue for voters.
Dellums spokesman Mike Healy admitted the campaign’s error. He said the choice to leave the space blank “conforms with the law because he doesn’t have to put anything there.’’
Miller warms up slowly but pulls no punches
Dennis Miller took a while to warm up to political topics in his return to Washington on Saturday, but when he did the shots came hard and fast.
Appearing at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual ball as half of the billed entertainment (the other half being Nicole Richie’s dad, Lionel) a graying and bespectacled Miller hit a bit too close to home for the aged and moneyed crowd with two early bits on obesity and plastic surgery, before getting on a roll with one of his favorite topics, the French.
“The French might as well gas up the dinghy and go fishing with Fredo because they’re dead to me,” he quipped.
Soon, few prominent politicians would be spared the ax. “Clean air, clean water, count me in,” he said of environmentalism. “But Alaska, I don’t care. I’m sorry if [Sen.] Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] is here. [Alaska] is like that old fridge you keep out in the garage — it’s cold, it’s got lots of goodies, it’s separate from the main house.”
He said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is so boring “I expect the team from ‘CSI’ to come put and put a little chalk line around the podium” when he speaks.
And on it went. On Howard Dean: He talks so much, “we have to hood him like a falcon once a day so we can get some sleep.”
On the Terri Schiavo case: “You know what I took away from the Schiavo case? I never mumble around my wife anymore.”
Miller, whose CNBC show was canceled in May, was not granting interviews.
The charity announced that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) will be the recipients of this year’s Congressional Honors Award on March 28.
Ortiz aide distills the Constitution in new book
Cathy Travis’s first book, Constitution Translated for Kids, was almost 14 years in the making.
Travis, who has worked for Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) for 16 years, remembers watching the 1992 presidential debate. “Mr. [Ross] Perot talked about the constitutionality of something, and he was just wrong,” she said. Worse, “no one called him on it.”
In her moment of exasperation, she remembers exclaiming that “someone should write a book based on the Constitution that explains exactly what every line means.”
A friend of hers dared her to do it, so she started work on it in 1993 and continued updating it through the disputed 2000 election.
After buying the rights back from one publisher following a dispute, she found a home for her book with Texas-based Synergy Books. The book will be released next month.
Travis’s book pairs the original text of the Constitution with an easy-to-read version targeted at fifth-graders.
As the longtime communications director for Ortiz, she referred to the rule that “all good journalists write to the fifth grade.”
“Besides,” she adds, “I’m such a child myself.”
She said the book will definitely be marketed to elementary-school classrooms but “there’s a real market here for adults” as well.
“Adults don’t want to admit they don’t know,” she said.
Reynolds not singing along?
House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) tried to make some hay out of the new employment figures, released by the Department of Labor on Friday, with a nod to the Oscars.
In an obvious reference to the Oscar-winning song from the movie “Hustle and Flow,” Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” Kingston suggested in a release that thanks to the GOP’s economic policies, maybe the party “could win an Oscar for our song, ‘It Ain’t Hard Out There to Find a Job.’”
Which may or may not be true in the district of Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.). Speaking on C-SPAN that same day, Reynolds did tout the new employment numbers and mentioned that new opportunities are coming to his district, but bemoaned that his region is not as competitive as others. “In upstate New York ... jobs are hard to come by,” he said.
Reynolds spokesman L.D. Platt said, “Congressman Reynolds and Congressman Kingston agree, like all Republicans, that tax incentives have had a positive effect on the economy.”
Staffer clear after powder scare
An FBI investigation has determined that a mysterious powder sent to the Granite Bay, Calif., district office of Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) is nontoxic.
On Wednesday, an unidentified constituent-service aide to Doolittle was opening mail when a white powder fell onto her hand. The staffer said she felt irritation on her skin and washed immediately. A representative for the local sheriff’s office told The Sacramento Bee that the envelope included “threatening” comments.
Five staffers were evacuated from the office, as were workers from adjoining offices.
But a subsequent investigation by the FBI’s Sacramento field office revealed the substance was not harmful.
“The preliminary tests indicate it is not a dangerous substance, and not any type of biological agent,” agent Karen Ernst told the Auburn Journal.
The incident came on the heels of a threatening phone call to Doolittle’s office March 2, which is still being investigated.