Heard on the Hill: Red-Jacket Rage

Posted February 24, 2009 at 6:33pm

Behind the cheery facade of those courteous, red-jacketed Capitol tour guides lurks some serious wrath.

Tour guide Shane Hanley had a mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore moment, and he took to his Facebook page to vent some spleen over snooty junior Capitol Hill staffers.

[IMGCAP(1)]In an open “Note to all Hill staffers” posted earlier this month, Hanley huffed about a young female staffer who had complained to him that the guides in the Capitol Visitor Center were “rude and unprofessional.”

“Funny word, ‘unprofessional,’ coming from someone wearing jeans, UGGs boots, and a striped polo jacket to work in the Capitol building,” he fumed, going on to say that guides know what they’re doing and the staffer — who bragged that she’d been there since September — doesn’t. Hanley knocked staffers for “spreading misinformation about the Capitol, it’s [sic] rich history, and the people who really make it work as well as it does.”

In the note, he taps into what seems to be long-simmering ire, addressing all staffers thusly: “So to all you high and mighty princess and a–hole ‘do you know who I work for’ staffers: once you understand that on Capitol Hill, you are nothing, we can all move about our business.”

And to add insult to more insult, he ends with an aside. “P.S. Staffers: We make at least 10G more than you.”

Tension between professional guides and the young staffers who often give Capitol tours to constituents visiting their boss’s offices isn’t new. But the standoff seems to have reached a boiling point.

One commenter wholeheartedly agreed with Hanley’s rant. “I feel like this should be the guide service creed. … Anyone else in on that?” the commenter wrote.

HOH couldn’t reach Hanley for comment, but CVC spokesman Tom Fontana gave us this starchy statement: “The comments made by the individual were made on personal time on a personal computer and do not reflect the opinions of the Capitol Visitor Center staff or the Architect of the Capitol. The Capitol Visitor Center team values its relationships with Hill staffers, who have played key roles in the success of the Capitol Visitor Center.”

Hatch Hearts Hancock. Who knew a white Mormon Republican Senator from Utah and a black jazz legend from Chicago could be such good buddies?

Sen. Orrin Hatch appeared at a press conference on Tuesday alongside lawmakers and musical artists such as Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Patti LaBelle and Dionne Warwick to promote legislation to compensate performers when their song is played on the radio.

Hatch singled out jazz musician Herbie Hancock, noting that “Herbie Hancock over there … he can warm my heart.” (Although Hatch added: “Not as much as the wonderful women to my right,” pointing to Crow and Harris.)

Hancock returned the love, telling HOH that the Senator has been a longtime backer of the legislation and has supported Hancock’s charity efforts.

The two friends have another link: “He’s a composer of inspirational music,” Hancock said, noting Hatch’s lengthy songwriting career.

Other lawmakers at the press conference included Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who both promised the attendees they wouldn’t sing. “My friends in the music business would have to leave if I did,” Leahy quipped.

And on another note, HOH couldn’t help but notice that Warwick — singer, actress, activist and psychic friend — sported a fashion choice favored by Midwestern tourists everywhere. Along with an ensemble completely composed of shades of brown, Warwick sported an equestrian-looking belt outfitted with a small satchel, which, well, looked sort of like a fanny pack.

A Lost and Lonely Burris. Radioactive Roland Burris might be the loneliest Senator. During Senate party lunches on Tuesday, a solo and directionally challenged Burris was spotted heading to the Senate Lyndon B. Johnson Room (where Republicans meet) only to be redirected at the doorway to Room 211, the nearby Mansfield Room (where his fellow Dems convene).

The visibly confused Illinois Democrat, back in the Capitol building for the first time since he stoked controversy by releasing an affidavit about his dealings with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) that appeared to contradict previous statements, stopped about 15 feet later to ask a Doorkeeper which way Room 211 was.

As he followed the guard’s directions, Burris ignored questions from approaching reporters, chanting to himself “Two-eleven. Two-eleven,” as he headed into the Mansfield Room.

Burris clearly hasn’t been around the chamber long enough to learn his way around — but he’s been there just long enough to alienate would-be lunch buddies.

A Wonder-ful Excuse to Play Hooky. House Democrats might have been holding a Caucus meeting Monday night, but a few of them — including Speaker Nancy Pelosi — managed to sneak away for some really important business, like checking out musical legend Stevie Wonder.

The R&B icon was at the Library of Congress, where he performed a classical piece of his own composition and received the Library’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Wonder’s musical stylings were like a siren song for the California Democrat, who told HOH she’s a huge fan and even recalled taking her kids to see a Wonder concert when they were young. “I am trying to remember what the year was … but it’s been a very long time,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi schmoozed with VIPs inside the auditorium prior to the concert, and she seemed torn when she had to leave before the performance began.

“I have to go,” she said, then apparently decided that her next engagement would just have to wait a few minutes. “I’m just gonna watch him start.”

Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, remained, and he even broke his usual practice of shunning the media to give props to the Motown legend. “I don’t really talk to the press, but the show is absolutely spectacular,” Paul Pelosi raved. “He’s fabulous. He’s an American icon.”

One Member in the audience, though, had no qualms about missing other appointments to catch the show. “I would not have missed this for anything,” Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) gushed to HOH after the one-hour set. “There’s no caucus that can make up for the opportunity to be with Stevie Wonder.” We spotted old softie Abercrombie wiping away tears when Wonder played “Overjoyed” as an encore. Turns out it’s his and his wife’s song.

“That’s how we felt, to be overjoyed with each other,” he told HOH. “And we have it still.”

A Meal Fit for a Prez. Washington, D.C., resident Carla Hall spent weeks whipping up gourmet dishes (often composed of wacky ingredients) as a contestant on this season of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Viewers will find out in tonight’s finale if she ultimately won the cooking contest. But before then, HOH gave Hall one final challenge: Pick one dish to make for President Barack Obama at the White House.

Hall’s choice?

“Peach cobbler,” Hall told us. “I heard it was one of his favorites, and I make a good crust if I must say so myself.”

While the model-turned-chef might not get to bake that cobbler in the White House kitchen anytime soon, Hall is likely to have a dining presence in the city in upcoming months. Hall already owns D.C.-based Alchemy Caterers and plans eventually to open her own restaurant.

Jude O. Marfil and Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

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