Heard on the Hill: Kohl Won’t Stimulate Economy
Sen. Herb Kohl is one of the wealthiest Members of Congress, with more than $200 million in assets, including the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. One wouldnt think a guy with that many zeros on his bank statement would need to borrow a staffers coat to wear to the presidential inauguration but thats just what the Wisconsin Democrat is hoping to do.
[IMGCAP(1)]Kohls scheduler sent out a staff-wide missive this week searching for a loaner. Does anyone have a dark ie blue or black plain winter coat which might fit HK, the e-mail read.
Kohl, whose family founded the department-store chain Kohls (which, last we checked, sells some lovely and toasty winter jackets) has worn a coat belonging to his schedulers late father for the past four presidential inaugurations.
But that coat was stolen, according to the e-mail, at a club in New York on New Years Eve. A Kohl staffer explains that the schedulers son, not Kohl himself, had borrowed it that night.
The e-mail had HOH scratching her head as to why such a wealthy guy wouldnt just swing by a store heck, with that kind of money, wed send an assistant and make it Brooks Brothers for a new jacket he could call his very own.
But Kohls communications director, Lynn Becker, explained that her boss isnt exactly the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous type. Think less Cristal Brut and more Milwaukees Best.
Sen. Kohl is generous with his scholarships and charities but notoriously uninterested in spending money on himself thats why he drives a Chevy Lumina, eats in diners and will be borrowing a winter coat, she told us.
Maybe those of us whove been known to blow our meager paychecks on a single item of clothing (but those boots were sooo cute!) should take a few lessons in frugality from someone for whom it has obviously paid off.
A Chaotic, but Nostalgic, Second City Reunion. Sen.-in-waiting Roland Burris arrival on Capitol Hill a week ago might have generated a bit of a frenzy, but for the man charged with protecting him, it also provided a chance to see an old friend.
And what did the longtime buddies chat about? Why, baseball, of course.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, who served as director of the Illinois State Police when Burris served as Illinois attorney general, personally escorted the next Senator from Illinois through the media herd when he attempted to submit his credentials for office. And while reporters swarmed Burris on Tuesday, a far tamer second visit gave the former Capitol Police chief a chance to show his old friend around his potential new workplace.
Aside from dishing on where to pick up the Senate subway, Gainer told HOH that the longtime colleagues chatted about their old Chicago neighborhoods, mutual friends and hometown sports. Theyre getting ready to sell the Cubs, and we were trying to figure out whos going to buy them, Gainer said.
Gainer remembered Burris as a fair, decisive leader who was very community- oriented and a friend to law enforcement. When Burris arrived on Capitol Hill, he seemed eager to learn about life in Washington, not unlike the other freshman Senators who actually got to be sworn in last week, Gainer said.
It was all kind of nice, given that Ive known him some, gosh, 25 years or so, Gainer said of the reunion. It was good to catch up.
Respecting Their Elders? Old people: Not only are they founts of wisdom and witnesses to history, but they make for a pretty great photo op, too.
Two Members of Congress have invited to the presidential inauguration constituents who are 100-plus years old both African-American women for whom the swearing-in of the first black president carries a special meaning but inaugural planners are worried that the event might be too much for the elderly guests.
A staffer involved in the inaugural planning blasted the offices of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) for inviting centenarians, saying theyre putting the lure of a great photo op and heart-warming story ahead of safety. With chilly temperatures, long walks and even longer waits, attending the inaugural isnt for the faint of heart.
Last month, Brown invited Clevelander Ella Mae Johnson, who will celebrate her 105th birthday on Inauguration Day, to the festivities. That garnered a few nice stories in the local press.
Then Morans office informed inaugural officials that they were inviting a 106-year-old Virginia woman.
But the warm and fuzzy gesture didnt sit so well with one staffer. This is so clearly about PR and our-old-woman-is-older-than-yours, the staffer said. It completely disregards what a grueling event this could be to attend.
The elderly guests could cause a major disruption to the proceedings if theres a medical emergency, some planners fear. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies last month issued a warning to would-be attendees about the long waits and physical demands of attending the festivities that was so dire that the Web site Gawker ran the news under the tongue-in-cheek headline Obama Inaugural Will Probably Kill You, Congress Promises.
Moran Communications Director Austin Durrer told HOH that the office spoke to the elderly womans caretaker who would attend the event with her and explained the risks but the office isnt rescinding the invite. I cant think of a more fitting event for this woman to attend, he said. I can understand the concerns, but at the same time, if they want to attend, were not going to stop them.
And Browns spokeswoman said the Senator extended the invite to his elderly constituent on the suggestion of her nursing home, and that the office is working with the home on logistics. Were figuring out how to make sure she stays comfortable and safe on Inauguration Day, she said.
If You Ignore It, Its Not Happening. An HOH spy spotted Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley on Saturday afternoon at the Thunder Grill in Union Station (who knew it was a hot spot?), grabbing drinks with his comely wife, former Redskins cheerleader Christy Oglevee. The pair sipped on libations just as the Redskins local rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, stunned the Tennessee Titans in a 13-10 playoff victory a win that likely wasnt easy for Cooley, since the Redskins missed the playoffs this year. Our spy says the couple stayed for only about 30 minutes before departing the bar, and Cooley had his back to the television sets the entire time.
The Thank-You Cards in the Mail. The presidential inauguration is a lot like a wedding. It involves months of preparation and painstaking seating arrangements and expensive crystal is a mandatory gift.
On Monday, American-based fine china maker Lenox Inc. presented Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) with two handcrafted, personalized crystal bowls, which will be given to President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden at the inaugural luncheon on Jan. 20. Lenox has given similar pieces to the incoming president and vice president at the past six inaugurations, and the pieces are considered the American peoples official gift to the next White House occupants.
Designed by artist Peter ORourke, Obamas bowl features a sketch of the White House, while Bidens contains a sketch of the Capitol. Feinstein, who received the gifts as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, called the bowls really a thing of beauty and suggested to Timothy Carder, Lenoxs vice president of design, that the company sell replicas.
I think they would be a very hot item, she said. Although probably very expensive.
We cant wait to see Biden do the Chicken Dance.
K Street Kiddie. With two lobbying reporters for parents, little Madelyn Grace Zellers destiny seems pre-ordained. Roll Call reporter Kate Ackley and her husband, CQ Weekly senior writer Shawn Zeller, welcomed the baby girl, their first child, on Monday. Mom and baby are perfect, the proud dad said. Like any good lobbyist, shes already schmoozing her mom and dad!
Note to the new parents: Lobbying- disclosure filings make for great bedtime stories.
Overheard on the Hill. See you on YouTube.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), inviting the kids to check out Congress on the Internets. YouTube on Monday launched destinations for the Senate and the House.
Tom Williams contributed to this report.
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