Former Sen. Carnahan, top aide are 'Fired Up'

Earlier this year, former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) had been toying with the idea of an online community for liberal Missourians called Fired Up and Fighting Back. Meanwhile, Roy Temple, former chief of staff in her Senate office and her late husband’s governor’s office in Missouri, had been publishing the Temple Report online.

Earlier this year, former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) had been toying with the idea of an online community for liberal Missourians called Fired Up and Fighting Back. Meanwhile, Roy Temple, former chief of staff in her Senate office and her late husband’s governor’s office in Missouri, had been publishing the Temple Report online.

The two put their heads together, and realized they were on to much the same thing. And so, six weeks ago, firedupmissouri.com was born.

“It’s an information resource for progressives, but it’s also a networking community,” said Carnahan on Friday.

Temple said the content isn’t much different from his old site, but “we found some software that created more engagement” with the readers.

Friday’s entries were a combination of links and original content centering largely on House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and his relationship with embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

“It changes through the day,” she said, as she and Temple do their best to add entries, while simultaneously doing marketing and grassroots outreach. They have only one other staff member. “We’re trying to get reporters in each of the counties,” she said, noting that many state residents get mostly news that’s biased in a conservative direction, “listening to Rush Limbuagh for three hours a day.”

“She’s having a lot of fun doing it,” said her son, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), who won Rep. Richard Gephardt’s St. Louis-based seat last year.

And Temple, who has worked for the Carnahans since 1990, said, “If you’ve ever worked for a politician, you always work for them. The question is whether they still pay you. But I mean that lovingly.”

Pope’s death stalls ‘nuke option’

The death of Pope John Paul II, strangely enough, may have had an effect on the ultimate fate of the so-called “nuclear option,” the tactic barring the filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominations, which Republicans refer to as the “constitutional option.” 

Republicans planned to pull the trigger to confirm either Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, two controversial nominees for federal circuit court judgeships. Owen was considered the most likely nominee over whom the GOP would go nuclear as they had scheduled her to be the first to face the Judiciary Committee, but a vote to send her nomination to the floor was postponed because Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) missed a meeting to attend the funeral at the Vatican. 

DeWine’s absence, along with a Democratic boycott, left Republicans short of a quorum, delaying the panel’s consideration of Owen by a week. This meant that the earliest date on which the GOP could go nuclear will have to wait until next week.

Artist LeRoy Neiman honored

It should be a lively lunch at the Smithsonian Institution on Thursday when artist LeRoy Neiman, whose colorful sketches and paintings of sports and entertainment figures have filled the pages of Playboy and Sports Illustrated for years, is honored for donating his personal archives to the Smithsonian.

The New York artist, who bears a striking resemblance to Salvador Dali, is giving 90 boxes of images and records to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

The collection includes material relating to his many commissioned portraits of such sports and entertainment celebrities as Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone, Louis Armstrong and — while he was a professional basketball player and not a politician — former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.).

Pages’ new buses mean fewer parking spots

The congressional pages have wheels. Big, blue, 30-foot-long wheels, to be exact, in the form of two sparkling new buses.

“They have a lot of off-campus activities that are part of their program … and they need transport,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the House Administration Committee.

When they’re not taking pages to activities, they’re parked behind the pages’ dorms, at 5th Street and New Jersey Avenue S.E. And when they’re gone, the spaces — each about three cars long, one on the east side of the street, one on the west side — are blocked with orange traffic cones.

Most of the block, including where the buses are parked, is marked as Zone 6 residential parking. Although there are no houses on the block, only the dorm on one side and the power plant on the other, it has raised the ire of some local residents and workers.

“There’s plenty of room in front of the building,” on 1st Street between E Street and Duddington, grumbled one local. Parking is already restricted along that block.

“It’s just that many fewer spaces out there when I need to park,” added a construction worker who comes to the Hill most days.
Walsh said the pages’ office has gotten permission from the sergeant at arms to park on the street.

Rep. Oberstar a transportation hero in Minn.

As ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Jim Oberstar knows the value of seniority.

Oberstar, who represents northeastern Minnesota’s fabled Iron Range, can take credit for more than half of the North Star State’s share of earmarked funds in the $284 billion transportation bill recently passed by the House.

Oberstar snagged almost $152 million in special projects for his district, compared to $302 million for the entire state. That means his district will get more federal funds than North and South Dakota combined, and just under Iowa’s total of $168.5 million.

But he makes no apologies for helping his district, which  contains only 12.5 percent of Minnesota’s population but about 37 percent of its land area.

“I think it’s a fair distribution,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week. “We’ve suffered long being out of the main street. We wouldn’t get a damn penny if it were up to the state.”

Oberstar’s success in delivering pork to his constituents may help account for the fact that he is the longest-serving House member in Minnesota history, with 16 terms under his belt.

A more junior member of the committee, Republican Mark Kennedy, snagged $45 million for his exurban Twin Cities district, which should help his campaign to succeed Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton.

Rep. Tom Feeney gone wild

Anyone who compares Capitol Hill to an overgrown college campus now has more evidence. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) is throwing a Spring Break Bash on Thursday.

This is a fundraiser to be sure, but it’s a “low-dollar event …  a no-frills get-together with the congressman,” said Patty Roe, who handles his events. The “suggested contribution,” sayeth the invite, is $50 for individuals and $500 for PACs.

It will be held at the American Legion Hall on D Street S.E., which will be festooned with “beach stuff” and Frisbees with the sponsors’ names. Beer, wine and pizza will be served, and Feeney encourages everyone to come casual.

Local country outfit the Wil Gravatt Band, which played at the Black Tie and Boots inaugual ball, will provide entertainment.