Rachael Johnson

Hill Climbers: A Day in the Life of a House Staffer

Before the August recess, Roll Call tagged along for one day in a busy staffer’s life. We followed Keenan Austin, senior policy aide to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

Like her boss, Austin doesn’t wear just one hat. “I have a hybrid role,” says Austin, who advises the Congresswoman on foreign policy, health care and education issues. Here’s how her day shaped up.

Catching Up with Pat Schroeder

Former Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.), is taking a stab at app storytelling. The former CEO of the American Association of Publishers didn’t think that she’d be the voice of the new kids book app, The House that Went on Strike — but she is. “You just never know what’s going to happen,” Schroeder said from her home in Celebration, Fla.

The House that Went on Strike is an interactive app designed to help parents teach their kids the importance of respecting their home and doing their chores.

Hill Climbers: Rivera Aide Displays Competitive Intensity
Successes, Failures on Lacrosse Field Helped Shape Staffer, Taught Her Determination

Stacie Brown likes to say that she gives everything in life 110 percent.

It’s a lesson she learned on and off the lacrosse field and one she brings to freshman Rep. David Rivera’s office every day.

Take Five WIth Rep. Cory Gardner

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for HOH to catch up with a Member of Congress through five fun questions. This week, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). talks about skiing in blue jeans and Colorado delicacies such as the Slopper. Q: You are a fifth-generation Coloradoan. What is it about Colorado that’s kept your family in the state?

A: My ancestors might argue that the wind on the plains kept them from moving anywhere else. But I know it’s because there is no better place to live than Colorado. We have some of the best weather and most beautiful landscapes you’ll find anywhere in the world. And as someone who grew up in a family-owned farm equipment business, the state’s attitude toward job creators was always an important factor to us. Colorado has always had a very friendly business environment. My family and I hope it always stays that way. John Denver really did know something.

Stealing History

A researcher approached the librarian’s desk with a box of doughnuts and a list of collections he wished to review. He looked through several items, including a land grant that was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, a document valued at more than $100,000.

Later that day, the police confiscated that land grant along with 59 other historical documents that were stored inside a computer bag and locked in a museum locker. Barry Landau and his co-conspirator, Jason Savedoff, were found guilty of the thefts, and Landau was sentenced a few weeks ago.

Take Five With Rep. Daniel Webster

If it’s Tuesday, it’s HOH’s Take Five, where we get to know a Member of Congress through five fun questions. This week, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) talks about the Olympics and his deep seawater experience. Q: Disney World is one of the major attractions in your district. If you could create a ride for the theme park, what would it be like?   

A: For someone with an engineering degree, this is a dream question. ... I’m envisioning a system where visitors choose a party allegiance before entering that respective wait line, and since we’re on the I-4 corridor, both lines would be relatively the same length. Democrats would quickly move on to the Tower of Terror, while Republicans proceed directly to the Hall of Presidents.

Lewis Shares Story of His Struggles

Rep. John Lewis placed three chickens on the table in his office. They never fluttered, pecked or shrieked, just sat idly on a solid round table. 

“I bought this at an auction. I think there’s a little hen over in this one,” Lewis said, walking over to a wooden cabinet with glass doors. 

Democratic Roster

Second Base
Elected 1999
Home: Rialto
Hits R | Throws R | Votes L

Baca is looking forward to “the excitement and the insanity of playing in the Nationals’ stadium. Reliving our dream of when we used to play ball.” He’ll wear a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, No. 22, on game day.

J-Rod Is Democrats’ A-Rod

He shrugs it off as just a nickname. But his teammates don’t.

“Everyone on the team has a nickname; mine’s J-Rod,” Rep. Jared Polis said, shaking off even a glimmer of comparison with MLB star Alex Rodriguez.

Hawk ’n’ Dove Still Grounded

Walk by the old location for what was once a storied Capitol Hill watering hole and all to be seen is plyboards covering a work site. Check out the bar’s old website, hawkanddoveonline.com, and it’s a free online poker site.

The Hawk ’n’ Dove closed in October after 44 years under Stuart Long’s leadership. Capitol Hill restaurateur Xavier Cervera, who owns Molly Malone’s, the Chesapeake Room, Senart’s Oyster and Chop House, Boxcar Tavern, Lola’s Barracks Row and the recently opened Pacifico Cantina, bought the bar with plans to renovate it into a bistro.

Take Five With Rep. Karen Bass

Every week, HOH catches up with a Member of Congress through five questions. This week, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) talks about Rodney King’s memory, martial arts moves and what she likes about Will Smith. Q: If you could star in the remake of any movie, which one would it be and why?

A: While I enjoy movies with a strong female lead, I also enjoy a good action or political thriller. If there was a remake of “Independence Day,” I’d like to play Will Smith’s character. He was a team player who helped save the world with his intelligence and wit. What could be more fun than that?

Take Five With Rep. Lynn Jenkins

If it’s Tuesday, it’s HOH’s Take Five, where we get to know a Member of Congress through five fun questions. This week, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) talks about castrating pigs and other aspects of life on the farm. Q: You were raised on a dairy farm in Kansas. What was the most memorable experience you had as a kid? A: One example might be the time my dad nearly cut my left pinky off with a razor blade as we were castrating pigs when I was 8 years old. Castration is a life skill every woman should learn.

Q: If you were Dorothy and could choose only one character from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” to take you to see the Wizard, who would it be and why? A: I’ve been told that Members of Congress don’t have a brain, a heart or any courage, so it sounds like I better take them all along.

Hill Climbers: European Experience Inspires Aide

He trucked a big suitcase with him as he wandered the streets near the White House on New York Avenue Northwest. Paul Blocher was looking for his hotel, and when he finally asked a police officer for directions, he was told he wasn’t in the right place — at all. His hotel was on New York Avenue Northeast. 

“In Poland, I had used Google maps and figured that it had to be almost right next to [the] White House. I was patting myself on the back thinking that I had outsmarted all those suckers who were paying like $350 to stay at hotels in the vicinity,” Blocher said.