Rep. Jeff Flake, continuing his persistent but unsuccessful crusade against congressional markups, last Wednesday ran into implied accusations of anti-Italian bias when he opposed another $150,000 federal subsidy for the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx's "Little Italy."
Noting that this unauthorized appropriation brings to $700,000 the taxpayers' money spent on the market servicing Italian food merchants, Flake declared, "There is a lot of federal prosciutto ... for a private Italian grocery market." He added, "I would argue that this is one cannoli the taxpayer doesn't want to take a bite out of."
Those words apparently offended Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano, whose Bronx district includes the Arthur Avenue Market. "The gentleman from Arizona's use of certain ethnic words like 'cannoli' and 'prosciutto' indicate that he takes this more lightly than he should," Serrano told the House.
Serrano's subsidy was one of nine earmarks, totaling nearly $3 million, that Flake tried to eliminate last Wednesday. All his efforts were rejected.
GOP'S MICHIGAN CHOICE
Although Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard faces opposition in the Michigan Republican primary Aug. 8, he took part in a strategy session in Washington last Wednesday attended by incumbent GOP senators.
Bouchard is heavily favored to be nominated over the Rev. Keith Butler, a former Detroit city councilman. Bouchard was invited to the midday meeting at the last minute by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the Senate Republican campaign chairman.
The Republican challenge in Michigan against first-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow has attracted little national attention so far. However, national Republican strategists consider Stabenow one of the few vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents in 2006.