Colin Powell, Call Your Office

Posted May 30, 2003 at 5:48pm

Colin Powell, Call Your Office. Is former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) gunning for more than just a resignation from Secretary of State Colin Powell?

That’s what HOH was wondering after receiving a chilling copy of the latest book review Gingrich is e-mailing around to his many fans under the auspices of Newt.org.

“‘Dark Ambition’ unveils the perplexing murder of an indiscreet Secretary of State, combining powerful maneuverings in Washington, tangled detective work, and underhanded court dealings,” Gingrich wrote of a new 467-page spy thriller from author Allan Topol.

At the very least, one has to wonder if the book was the inspiration for Gingrich’s recent slam on Powell, in which he declared that the department’s bureaucracy needs to be overhauled.

Interestingly, Gingrich notes in his review that “at the novel’s core is the American process of honest, courageous people battling bureaucracy to ascertain the truth. I found myself solidly immerse in Topol’s multi-faceted conspiracy and am eagerly anticipating his next work.”

Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler deadpanned to HOH: “That’s quite a coincidence.”

One can only guess Gingrich is hoping Topol’s next book will be a thriller about a courageous Speaker unfairly pushed out of Congress by his fellow Republicans.

Kansas City, Here I Come? When she recently emerged from a one-month stay in alcohol rehab, Rep. Karen McCarthy

(D-Mo.) declared that she would be running for re-election and would be focused on working hard for her district.

That’s why some people close to McCarthy were surprised to hear that the Congresswoman quietly headed a few thousand miles away from Kansas City last week, deciding to spend the Memorial Day recess in Rome on the dime of the Aspen Institute for discussions on global climate change.

McCarthy’s office confirmed that she was out of the district for recess, but declined to comment further.

Gallery Politics. Trouble continues to brew for Larry Janezich, the longtime director of the Senate Radio-TV Gallery, who’s taking fire from the media for firing one of his employees.

NBC News reporter Joe Johns, chairman of the executive committee of the House and Senate broadcast galleries, has fired off a memo to Janezich chastising him for firing Senate gallery employee Gloria Halcomb. Johns was particularly irate about the fact that Janezich used gallery stationery — with the names of the executive committee on the letterhead — to can his associate.

“The unauthorized use of Gallery letterhead and our names in terminating Ms. Halcomb as well as the secretive nature in which this action was taken necessitates that the committee request effective immediately neither you nor any agent of the Gallery use or disseminate Gallery letterhead bearing the names of the Committee members without the prior written approval of the Committee,” Johns wrote in the private memo obtained by HOH.

The private memo that Janezich delivered to Halcomb on May 21 about her termination, meanwhile, reveals some of the strange events that led to the firing of the employee, who has a pending discrimination lawsuit against the Senate.

Janezich wrote to Halcomb that in connection with a March performance review, “I instructed you to complete successfully the following three courses offered through the Senate Office of Education and Training: (1) Grappling with Grammar; (2) Punctuation Pointers; and (3) Take Charge of Your Day … Managing Time and Priorities.” Halcomb refused to take the classes despite being warned of “serious consequences” for not doing so.

Janezich added in the memo: “On December 11, 2002, you addressed me in a confrontational and disrespectful manner, saying, “You’re evil. You’re the devil. Coming in here and having to see you every day is the most disgusting thing in my life.”

The director wrote that such “insubordination is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” When asked Friday about the grammar classes and such, Janezich told HOH, “I’m not permitted to comment on personnel matters.”

Gallery Politics Continued. After a difficult process, journalist Joan McKinney has been selected for the plum post of deputy director of the Senate Daily Press Gallery.

The tension came from the fact that Gallery Director Joe Keenan chose McKinney over seven other finalists, including Merri Baker, a popular veteran of the gallery’s staff.

“I’m very disappointed,” Baker told HOH. “I feel that I have done a fabulous job over almost 28 years.”

But Baker did call McKinney, Washington correspondent for the Baton Rouge Advocate, to pledge to help in any way. McKinney will start her new job June 23.

This move enables Keenan to put his stamp on the gallery, which has faced turmoil in the past year. The deputy position has been vacant since Keenan was elevated to replace Bob Petersen, the former director who was ousted after an investigation last year revealed that he had falsified some of his own performance reviews in order to get strong pay increases.

Keenan declined to discuss the personnel decision-making process, though he did tell HOH that the standing committee of correspondents approved his recommendation, which was then sent to Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle.

“I think the Sergeant-at-Arms has informally approved it,” he said. “I assume everything is on track.”

Liberal Lion King. Rory Kennedy, niece of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), will be on Capitol Hill this week for a screening of her new documentary on the global AIDS crisis. The film is narrated by Elton John.

Kennedy produced and directed the five-part documentary, which will begin running June 15 on HBO. The filmmaker told HOH that she headed to Brazil, India, Russia, Thailand and Uganda “with the hopes of trying to humanize the pandemic and put a face on the statistics.”

The film will be screened in the Russell Caucus Room during a Wednesday luncheon hosted by her uncle as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). It will be followed by a discussion moderated by CNN anchor Judy Woodruff.

Kennedy offered rare praise for President Bush in the wake of his $15 billion AIDS in Africa bill, noting that with the passage of the legislation “the timing could not be more perfect” for the documentary’s goal of bringing awareness to the crisis.

But she quickly flashed her uncle’s instincts for the legislative process, cautioning that everyone now has to focus on the appropriations process. “We have to make sure we get the money for the programs,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s the money that matters.”

That sounds awfully similar to her uncle’s experience with the president’s education bill.