Campus Notebook: A Long-Standing Shadow

Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:45pm

D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss held on to his seat in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, all but ensuring a win in November’s general election.

[IMGCAP(1)]Strauss won 66 percent of the vote in his race with Philip Pannell, a D.C. activist who promised to spend more time on the streets fighting for D.C.’s right to voting representation in Congress.

The shadow Senator position, created in 1990, is unpaid and isn’t recognized in the Senate. Strauss has held it for 12 years, spending his time on the Hill lobbying Senators to support D.C. statehood.

As of Wednesday’s press time, District officials were still investigating reports that a defective cartridge at a voting station duplicated vote totals in some races. But Strauss’ win seems certain.

The other shadow Senator, Michael Brown (D), is not yet up for re-election, while Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta (D) and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) ran unopposed.

A Helping Hand Grenade. A man who came to Capitol Hill last week with an AK-47 and a grenade told Capitol Police officers he came to help the police and “obtain books referencing a secret society,” according to charging documents.

Christopher Shelton Timmons asked an officer on Sept. 5 for directions to the Library of Congress. But when Officer Angel Mencia walked over to Timmons’ truck, he noticed a

rifle case on the seat and arrested the 27-year-old.

Inside the gray four-door Jeep, officers found the AK-47, three loaded magazines, several knives and a hand grenade. Timmons said he filled the grenade with gunpowder from shotgun shells and placed it in his car one month ago.

“The defendant further advised that he had the grenade to protect himself in case people came after him for exposing the activities of the secret society,” according to charging documents released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

In Timmons’ home in Orange, Va., police found four hand grenades, including three that were active, and more ammunition.

Timmons has been charged with carrying a deadly weapon, an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.

Ford Eatery Closes. After almost 15 years of serving gyros and rice pilaf to staffers in the Ford House Office Building, the Skenteris family moves out this week to make room for a new House cafeteria.

Restaurant Associates — which handles all food services in the House — will open the new food station the week of Sept. 22. In the meantime, the company will renovate the space and staffers will have to look elsewhere for food.

One idea: The Skenteris’ new restaurant in the Voice of America building at 330 Independence Ave. SW.

Belated Salaries. More than 300 analysts at the Government Accountability Office are set to receive the cost-of-living increases denied to them in 2006 and 2007.

On Tuesday, the House passed a Senate-revised version of a bill that requires the agency to make a lump-sum payout to the employees and make some other unrelated administrative changes.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), is a step toward ending the controversy over the agency’s switch to a market-based, performance-driven pay system.

That new system led to more than 300 employees not receiving annual raises in 2006 and 2007, despite getting satisfactory reviews. It also jump-started the effort to create the agency’s first-ever union, which officially formed last fall.

Workplace Survey. For the first time, the Office of Compliance is conducting a survey to find out how much Congressional staff know about the laws and rules that protect their rights in the workplace.

The OOC is charged with enforcing the Congressional Accountability Act, a federal statute that ensures anti-discrimination laws apply to legislative branch employees. Officials are hoping to tweak their services and outreach with the results of the new survey, now available online at compliance.gov.

The survey is being conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that works to improve the management of Congressional offices and has released several reports on Congress’ use of the Internet.

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