McCaslin's Scrapbook

Posted: Mar 16, 2001 12:00 AM
UNORGANIZED CONGRESS Apparently it's not the deed but the doer that matters. Or perhaps, says Public Service Research President David Denholm, the outrage by "the pooh-bahs of organized labor . . . at having lost the presidential election has clouded their memory." In March 1989, when then-President George Bush refused to order a 60-day cooling off period in one highly publicized airline strike, organized labor and its allies in the media and Congress "threw a temper tantrum," Denholm tells this column. Now, President George W. Bush does exactly what the aforementioned "excoriated his father for failing to do and they are equally upset," Denholm says, referring to Bush's intervention in the contract dispute between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union. Denholm says the American public shouldn't be fooled by the switch, noting the union bosses' real concern is that a cooling-off period is the first step in a process that could lead to congressional action to resolve such disputes. "In 1989, union lackeys dominated Congress," he explains. "Now, they don't have quite so firm a grip." MALCOLM REWRITE Andrew Malcolm, longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author, quit writing, moved to Montana, and became press secretary to then-Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, only to be snagged by George W. Bush as deputy communications manager for the Bush presidential campaign. Later he turned down a top post in the Bush administration. Now he's "falling off the wagon after eight years of being sober and a recovering journalist." "I'm going back to newspapers," Malcolm says from his home near Helena, Mont. He'll join the Los Angeles Times editorial board by month's end with a broad mandate to write on myriad topics, often from his Montana home. "My kind of L.A. commute," he tells this column. PIG STORIES Veteran pork opponent Sen. John McCain of Arizona will help release the 2001 "Congressional Pig Book," profiling some of the most egregious pork projects. The annual eye-opener will provide countless examples of how members of Congress circumvent budget rules to bring home the bacon, and Citizens Against Government Waste says this year's pork barrel is "running over" in record amounts. The book pays particular attention to the "Dirty Dozen" - 12 states garnering the most pork per capita: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia. IGNORING REAGAN Three years ago, on Feb. 6, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-154 renaming National Airport "Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport." Democrats, led by Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia, were outraged. In fact, Moran, whose congressional district encompasses the airport, said if Democrats ever regain control of Congress, he'll propose to drop "Ronald Reagan" from the name. To this day, there are partisans in Washington - even a few journalists - who outright refuse to associate Reagan's name with the airport. Now we've intercepted a letter that has been sent by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) to Richard A. White, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the Metro system. The congressman notes that Metro in recent weeks has opened five new rail stations, which cost $900 million to build, of which $563 million came from the federal government. With the new stations, Metro took necessary steps to update all its maps located both in stations and within rail cars, including several name changes. For example: The Green Line's U Street Station is now the "U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo." All this, Barr says, yet on every map Reagan Airport is still referred to as "National Airport." "In the three years since this bill became law, Metro has refused to change their maps," the congressman reminds White. So, as Metro begins construction on yet another $75 million station, and extends the rail line further into the Washington suburbs, and almost assuredly comes to Congress to seek funding for these additions, Barr will be waiting. "If necessary, I will begin to work with the chairman of the District of Columbia Appropriations Committee to take steps to tie further and future funding to Metro to making sure that the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is reflected correctly on all Metro maps, signs and documents," he warns. In the meantime, the congressman has given White until next Thursday to issue a reply. GENERAL OF KIDS Marc Racicot declined close friend George W. Bush's offer to become attorney general, but Wednesday the former Montana governor was unanimously elected chairman of America's Promise, replacing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. America's Promise was founded in 1997 after the Presidents Summit for America's Future, at which Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford, with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan, challenged the country to make children and youth a national priority. Racicot will continue as a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Bracewell & Patterson. Also agreeing to serve on the America's Promise board of directors was basketball great Michael Jordan. LURE OF MONEY We've done a little historical research after reading that federal authorities are expanding a probe of missing currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, focusing on Thomas M. Janney, no less, chief of the Office of Currency Production. Janney actually conceded his involvement in the disappearance of $30,000 in currency, resigned his position and now is banned from the building. Because of the bureau's complex accounting and security controls, anybody stealing currency would need at least one accomplice, so authorities believe one or more persons have been taking currency for about two years. And how much dough is on hand to take? Lots. The bureau produces 37 million notes a day, with an astounding face value of $696 million. A far cry from 1862, which marked the modest beginning of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In those days four honest women and two honest men (or so we assume) huddled in the basement of the main Treasury building next door to the White House, separating and sealing $1 and $2 United States Notes that had been printed by private bank note companies. (The bureau's printing of currency notes began in 1863, and by 1877 all U.S. currency was printed there.) Today, 45 percent of the notes printed are $1 bills, each with an average life span of only 18 months, which is why so much new money needs to be produced.