McCaslin's Beltway Beat

Posted: Aug 20, 2001 12:00 AM
HARRIS POLL We're told that Ben McKay and Dan Berger, chief political strategists for Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who is weighing a run for Congress in 2002, have paid a visit to the National Republican Congressional Committee on Capitol Hill, where they have interviewed prospective campaign staff, consultants and vendors. Harris made history by certifying President Bush's narrow margin of victory in Florida, but not before surviving a wild and crazy ride in the national spotlight. PARTY WORKER Former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairwoman Ida Castro is teaming up with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Castro will become director of the DNC's new Women's Vote Center. The women's center is the Democrats' much-touted initiative to engage and mobilize women voters across the nation. And apart from being one, Castro certainly knows women's issues. Prior to joining the EEOC, she headed the women's bureau at the Labor Department under President Clinton. And as a labor lawyer prior to her appointment in the Clinton administration, she lobbied Congress for abortion rights. STEWARDS OF JUSTICE The environment is expanding beyond the great outdoors under the watch of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman. Whitman has issued a memo to her staff calling attention to "environmental justice," which she wants integrated into all of the EPA's programs, policies and activities. "The agency defines environmental justice to mean the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and policies, and their meaningful involvement in the decision-making processes of the government," says the EPA chief. TIME TO GO Lord John Taylor, Lord Taylor of Warwick in Britain's House of Lords, tells Beltway Beat that, politically speaking, Rep. Gary A. Condit wouldn't have survived this long were he serving in the British House. Taylor opined that a British lawmaker in the same position as the embattled California Democrat would certainly have resigned by now. And if not, he would be forced out by fellow members, "if for no other reason because he would not be able to fully perform his duties given the turmoil and publicity," Taylor says. Taylor is Britain's first black conservative member of the House of Lords, and he spent the past week vacationing in Washington. He picked a good month to visit, as Capitol Hill's politicians are on vacation themselves. HAD THEIR FILL The moral of this story is, you can't take your pie to the sky. The Washington.-based Foundation Watch, a tracker of philanthropy, is mightily impressed that the nation's two premier pizza guys, Herman Cain and Thomas Monaghan, are giving away large chunks of their pie - devoting substantial sums of their wealth to a variety of educational, religious and professional causes. Cain, who is black and endured racial discrimination growing up in the South, later would become the owner, president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Now out of the pie business, he prefers giving his money to charity, motivational speaking and recording gospel songs. Monaghan purchased Dominick's pizza shop in Michigan for less than $1,000 in 1960. Forty years later, he sold Domino's Pizza for nearly $1 billion. Notes Foundation Watch: "Now virtually a billionaire, Monaghan's new dream is to die broke - by giving away much of his wealth to an array of charitable causes." ENOUGH SAID "I'm calculating in my mind what is classified and what is not. Let me just leave it at that." - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, answering (so to speak) a Russian journalist's inquiry this week about the production, launch capabilities and range of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or ICBM. THE FUTURE IS NOW It sounds like something out of science fiction: a world-class underground laboratory for "extreme biology" and other far-out experiments. So describes Sen. Tim Johnson, the South Dakota Democrat, who reveals that $10 million has been appropriated by Congress to study the feasibility of building such a monster government laboratory, perhaps deep within the Homestake Mine in Lead, S.D., where operations are expected to cease in 2002. Apart from extreme biology, physics and geology, the laboratory also would conduct studies of neutrinos, the most elusive particles known to man. They actually flit directly into - and through - planets at the speed of light. SKIP THE JUDGE Since 2 million Americans divorce every year in the United States - with a good chunk of their combined savings going to the divorce attorneys who represent them - the nation's largest and oldest legal reform organization is proposing a better way to deal with broken marriages. It's called collaborative law, an out-of-court legal process that allows both parties to retain separate, specially trained and inexpensive lawyers whose job is to settle the dispute without a bitter courtroom fight. "Participants agree not to litigate, and therefore, they must settle the dispute," explains HALT, an organization of the Washington-based Americans for Legal Reform, which since 1978 has challenged the legal establishment to improve access and reduce costs in the civil justice system.