You may have seen the news recently that Vince Morris — the New York Post scribe-turned-flack for then-Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams-turned-spokesman for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — may soon add yet another line to his résumé. [IMGCAP(1)]
Fledgling District Mayor Adrian Fenty has nominated Morris to serve on the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which will oversee construction of the new baseball stadium. As a top aide to Williams, Morris was a big stadium champion.
Now, when HOH thinks of the sports commission (and he does quite often), he thinks of perks — free tickets, skyboxes, champagne, uncut diamonds, etc.
But under stringent new Congressional gift rules — and D.C. ethics laws — it looks like Morris won’t be able to take much advantage of the new gig.
The biggest perk a commissioner actually receives is access to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to cheer on the D.C. United soccer team or the Washington Nationals baseball squad. There are no complimentary tickets doled out to the Verizon Center (where the Wizards and Capitals play) or FedEx Field for Redskins home games (which are actually in Maryland anyway).
As for that space at RFK, “It’s not a skybox,” said attorney Mark Tuohey, the outgoing commission chairman.
Tuohey said commissioners adhered “very strictly” to D.C. ethics laws that ban government officials from taking gifts from anyone with business before or regulated by the city. He added that commissioners actually “discouraged” the receipt of freebies.
So why join the board then?
“It’s an honor to be nominated to a commission where I get to focus on creating more opportunities for D.C. teenagers to play and enjoy sports, while also helping to oversee the construction of what is going to be the coolest new ballpark in the country,” Morris, who still has to be confirmed by the D.C. City Council, told HOH.
But still, Morris added, “Fenway will always be my favorite old ballpark.”
Go Time. Hey ladies, you’ve got a new champion on Capitol Hill, fighting for your equality.
No, it’s not one of the record-setting number of female Members of the House and Senate. It’s Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), who is tired of seeing you have to wait in line when you have to, you know, “go.”
Last week, Towns dropped H.R. 693, a bill “to amend title 40, United States Code, to require restroom gender parity in federal buildings.”
Apparently it has come to Towns’ attention that there are often an insufficient number of bathrooms — or more specifically, stalls — for women despite the fact that evolution, or God, or Tom Cruise or whoever saw fit to make women need more time to relieve themselves than men.
“He was just saying he was in an airport and he saw this long line of women at the restroom,” explained Towns spokeswoman Denise Mixon. “There are people who have health issues who cannot wait to go.”
So what would Towns’ bill do? Legalize the practice of women barging into men’s bathrooms at bars in Adams Morgan? Not exactly.
What the bill says is that, from now on, any new building that is constructed with at least $1.5 million in federal funding must include at least two bathroom stalls for women for every one stall for men. (Relax, guys, urinals don’t count. And trees remain available, though perhaps illegal. HOH does not condone the breaking of any laws.)
Apparently Towns’ co-sponsor on the bill, freshman Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), pushed similar legislation when she was on the New York City Council, so she knows the issue well.
HOH looks forward to potential hearings on the subject and wonders whether the witnesses will drink all the water that will be placed before them.
In the Spotlight. Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) may be trying to keep a slightly lower profile these days to show deference to new Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), but he still can’t seem to stay away from the spotlight.
That’s right, in recent days, the one-time Majority Leader’s doorway on the second floor of the Capitol has gotten a little more attention because of a strategically positioned lamp affixed to a chandelier outside his door. The light — part St. Peter’s, part Louvre — shines directly on Lott’s golden title of “Republican Whip” above his Capitol door.
It’s not clear how the flattering lighting happened to fall on Lott’s title. The Mississippian’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“You’d think they were lighting up the ‘Mona Lisa’ for God’s sakes,” said one observant Senate Democratic staffer.
Rachel Van Dongen and Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.
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