McCaslin's Beltway Beat: Opting for shots

Posted: Jan 14, 2002 12:00 AM
A majority of the 70 congressional staffers who were in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's and Sen. Russell D. Feingold's Capitol Hill office suites when an anthrax-contaminated letter was opened on Oct. 15 have opted for anthrax vaccines, according to a Senate memo we obtained. "Most have opted for, and received, a first immunization," according to the memo, dated this week. "Patients who received their first shot were given a second shot in the Capitol on January 3 and 4." The Senate's Office of the Attending Physician had recommended the vaccinations and an extension of antibiotics for those who were exposed to anthrax. SCAREMONGERING? Democrats are proposing a "radical" National Climate Service - its framework tucked away in the back of the mammoth Senate energy bill. David E. Wojick, a science adviser who writes about climate policy for Electricity Daily, reveals that the new climate bureau would fall under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department, along the lines of the National Weather Service. "Like the NWS, the NCS would do computer modeling, then issue forecasts and warnings at national, regional, state and local scales," explains Wojick, who foresees in the NCS "a radical new direction in applied climate-change research." He says while the NWS mostly predicts weather a week or so ahead - and has a hard enough time of it at that - "the NCS will be looking years and decades into the future, if not centuries. In addition, while the Weather Service just makes forecasts, the Climate Service would be charged with 'developing assessment methods to guide national, regional, and local planning and decision making' based on its predictions. "Its proponents say it will make U.S. climate science 'policy relevant' at all levels of government for the first time. Climate skeptics call it a cruel hoax on the American people," notes Wojick. If that's not enough weather forecasting, the bill also creates a climate-science czar in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, plus a National Office of Climate Change Response, both in the Executive Office of the President. "I suggest it makes sense to create a White House Office on Continental Drift Response," a none-too-pleased Christopher Horner, counsel for the Cooler Heads Coalition in Washington, tells The Beltway Beat. LAWYERS WITH HEARTS After gazing into his crystal ball, well-known Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender delivered his top legal prognostications for this new year. (Olender claims his predictions are 80 percent to 90 percent accurate, and he is quick to point out that this is a considerably better rate of success than the forecasts of stock market analysts.) According to Olender, law firms in 2002 might as well install revolving doors, as associates and partners increasingly come and go for a few dollars more. He says he is nostalgic for the days when a lawyer gave a lifetime of service at a single firm, and when the profession was less driven by business considerations and more by a "sense of calling." Still, Olender predicts with pride that lawyers will be "Americans first and lawyers second" by representing terror victims free of charge as they seek payment from the national Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. On a related matter, he forecasts a "clash of the titans" in the case of a Swiss reinsurance company against the leaseholder of the World Trade Centers. If the courts determine that the two airplane crashes comprise two incidents instead of one, the available insurance will be double the amount for one incident. Olender predicts the parties will settle in the end. AND TO YOUR LEFT ... The Beltway Beat has learned that the racially embattled Prince George's County Police Department will be leading its officers on tours of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington - what is being called "authority awareness training." "Our authorities are likening us to a bunch of Nazi S.S. officers," one P.G. police officer charges in an interview with this column. Police officers in the suburban Maryland county that borders Washington have been sharply criticized in recent months, particularly in the media, for so-called "racial profiling" and insensitivity, accusations many of the officers deny. Now, these same cops have just been handed the "Prince George's County Police In-Service Training 2002 Schedule," also obtained by this column, where an eight-hour block of time is set aside for "Authority-Awareness Training (Holocaust Museum)." "It's caused quite a stir in the department," says the officer we interviewed. When not touring the Holocaust Museum - established by President Jimmy Carter so that future generations can "learn how to prevent such enormities from occurring in the future" - the officers over a four-day period will be trained in more conventional areas of law enforcement: firearms and officer-survival skills, defensive driving, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to name several. ONLY IN CALIFORNIA Here's a memo to the Heritage Foundation staff from Ron Utt, the Washington think tank's senior economist and analyst. The subject line reads "it's true," and the memo says: "Thanks to Rep. Lois Capps, California Democrat, this Congress may have hit a new low in the creation of a wasteful spending program. Representative Capps has secured $50,000 in federal money to fund a tattoo-removal program in her district. According to her press release: 'People with visible, inappropriate tattoos often encounter negative attitudes, stereotyping and discrimination, resulting in unemployment, underemployment, or the inability to move forward in their careers. This program supports people who are trying to make a change in their lives by removing those negative marks of distinction ... and the psychological barriers they create.' "Dennis Rodman, phone home." ALMOST TO THE YOGURT It's been nearly three months - since Oct. 15 - that an anthrax-laden letter was opened in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Considering the tremendous fallout from that single envelope, officials are now taking every precaution to prevent another parcel like it from arriving on Capitol Hill. For instance, Hill staff are advised this week of a new process for delivering UPS and FedEx packages addressed to the Senate. "UPS and FedEx packages will be delivered by uniformed, Senate Post Office employees, displaying a valid Senate I.D. Offices should only accept packages delivered in this manner. Similar to the mail, the number of packages received will be minimal at first, and will increase in the coming weeks," staff is advised. Meanwhile, a working group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Incident Command is currently evaluating samples taken from the Senate Hart Office Building, which has remained closed owing to anthrax contamination. Once the EPA and CDC, in conjunction with the Senate's Office of the Attending Physician, advise that the building is safe, the Architect of the Capitol will verify that building systems - ventilation, fire protection and electrical systems, plumbing and elevators - are all in working order. Then, in conjunction with the U.S. Capitol Police, the architect's office will test, inspect and restore security systems and door locks, and repair and replace broken, damaged or removed ceiling tiles, and touch up painted surfaces. The architect then will clean and restore, including "detailed cleaning (and) sanitizing and deep scrubbing public and private restrooms; and emptying and cleaning refrigerators."