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Heard on the Hill: A Light Gone Out for Meek

Rep. Kendrick Meek might be a former Florida Highway Patrol officer, but it appears the Democrat needs a refresher course on one basic traffic law.

An HOH spy eyed the Senate candidate’s gray Ford hybrid sport utility vehicle in Dupont Circle on Thursday evening with its left taillight burned out.

Gasp! Driving with a burned-out taillight is a big traffic law no-no, after all.

Meek spokesman Mahen Gunaratna tells HOH that between his work on Capitol Hill and taking his kids to their various after-school activities, the lawmaker just hasn’t gotten the chance to fix the taillight. But’s it’s on the his to-do list, Gunaratna added.

“When you’re a full-time dad, sometimes things fall through the cracks,” he said. “It will get fixed soon.”

Corker’s Height Envy

Sen. Bob Corker apparently has some height issues. The Tennessee Republican, who’s hardly a towering figure, was clearly impressed by the height of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning when the ex-NBA player stopped by the Senate on Thursday.

“Gosh almighty, I mean, I come up below this guy’s waist,” Corker marveled to reporters.

And Mourning’s intimidating 6-foot-10-inch frame might serve him as well in his new role of lobbyist as it did on the court. Mourning, who had a kidney transplant in 2003, advocates for kidney transplant research and funding.

The impossible-to-miss star was spotted greeting various Senators, including Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

A Danger for CrackBerry Addicts

Walking and chewing gum at the same time might be OK, but walking and using a BlackBerry? It could be deadly.

That’s the warning recently issued by the Office of Compliance, the agency that typically handles workplace disputes and monitors safety hazards on Capitol Hill. In this month’s installment of the agency’s “Fast Facts” information bulletin, the OOC highlights the dangers of using mobile devices such as BlackBerrys or iPhones while walking (a time-honored Capitol Hill tradition).

The bulletin is replete with photos, graphics and scientific data on the hazards of walking while texting, e-mailing or simply listening to music. OOC Executive Director Tamara Chrisler tells HOH that several studies show people who use mobile devices while walking lose awareness of their surroundings — meaning they can see an object but fail to register and react to it.

Objects like a curb or another person ... or even a bus. “They are putting themselves and others at risk of severe injury, or worse,” Chrisler cautions.

Makes you think twice before pulling out that iPod on the walk to the Metro, eh?

Packaging a Little Bit of Home

Some gifts really do keep on giving. The Republican staff of the House Homeland Security Committee decided to put together a care package for Cpl. Alex Smith, a Marine serving in Afghanistan who had worked as an intern for the panel.

When the staffers contacted Smith to ask what they should send (junk food he can’t get abroad? Just-released DVDs?), the selfless Marine told them that all he really wanted were school supplies for local Afghan children, HOH hears. So the aides are collecting items that the kids can use and plan to ship the package out today.

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