Heard on the Hill: Standing Up Schwarzenegger

Posted January 22, 2010 at 6:13pm

Poor Ah-nold. The California governator’s approval ratings are dropping, his state’s finances are a mess, and on Thursday, more than half of his state delegation ditched a meeting with him.

[IMGCAP(1)]The entire 53-member Golden State delegation was invited to a meeting with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday afternoon, but HOH hears that when the guest of honor arrived 45 minutes late, only a handful of Members were waiting for him.

“People just couldn’t stick around,— says one staffer who saw the exodus. “They had other events on their schedules or planes to catch. Members of Congress don’t just hang out for 45 minutes waiting for anyone.—

Another staffer explained to HOH that Schwarzenegger’s meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ran longer than expected, and that meant the lower-ranking Members just had to cool their heels while the guv huddled with the Speaker.

The exact number of Members in attendance is unclear: One source figured about 13 or 14, while another put it closer to 20.

But those Members who didn’t wait around for Schwarzenegger can take comfort in knowing that it wasn’t the last chance they’ll have to meet with him: After all, he’ll be back.

A Photo-Free Photo Op. If a tree falls in the forest, and the Capitol Hill photography corps isn’t there to document it, does it make a sound?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met with Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Thursday, a moment that might have made for a nifty shot for the shutterbugs who document the Senate’s doings — but they boycotted the event.

The photographers were miffed when Reid’s press staff determined that the room would be too crowded and decreed the event a “pooled— one, HOH hears, meaning that only a few of them would be permitted in the room. The lucky ones who got in would then be expected to share their images with the rest of the corps.

Though the lensmen (and women) from the various news outlets are usually a pretty competitive bunch (just try to jump in front of one of their perfect shots), they stuck together and jointly dissed the Reid-Brown confab in protest. One of the photographers tells HOH that they saw the matter as one of access and precedent. “The reason we were given was that there wasn’t space, and we just didn’t believe that,— the photographer says.

After all, he notes, Brown visited four other Senators before going to Reid’s office, and they had been able to photograph all those meetings (some of which took place in far smaller venues than Reid’s digs) with no problem.

“But our issue is not with the Majority Leader’s office, but the entire machine in Washington — if you give up an inch, you’re really giving up a foot,— he says.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley tells HOH that no, really, it is all about square footage.

“I have always tried to treat photographers with respect, but the only people they hurt with this boycott was their clients,— Manley says.

Sequel to the Sign Saga. HOH might soon need to change its focus from dishing out Congressional gossip to being the watchful guardians of Capitol Hill grammar.

HOH readers will recall when we reported that the Senate is sponsoring classes for grammar-challenged staffers. Soon after that item ran, an HOH tipster pointed out a sign hanging over a telephone in the Senate side of the Capitol that read: “POLICE & SENATOR’S ONLY.—

The sign had long annoyed one grammar-conscious Senator, HOH learned. Punctuation-wise, after all, it appears the phone is only for one Senator — or a person named Senator. The Senator’s staff tried (and failed) for years to get it fixed, so we ran an item about it.

Success! We’re happy to report that the sign has been replaced and now features proper punctuation. But our excitement (and that of the Senator’s staff) was brief — the same Senator quickly found yet another “Senator’s Only— sign, this one in an elevator.

Sigh.

Now, HOH can’t serve as the grammar police in every column. (Note: This likely is our last improper grammar item for a while.) But in the spirit of public service, we contacted an Architect of the Capitol spokeswoman who confirmed the agency does produce some of the signs displayed in the Capitol — so you know who to call if you spot another “Senator’s Only— sign.

Love Is in Fashion. Does one of Congress’ most eligible bachelors harbor a not-so-secret crush on one of America’s leading fashion designers?

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) appeared with Reps. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and designer Nanette Lepore at a Capitol Hill screening sponsored by the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday for the documentary film “Schmatta: From Rags to Riches to Rags,— which studies the dramatic decline of New York’s garment district.

The Ohio Democrat told the fashionistas in attendance that he came to the screening for a number of reasons — but “one is that I have a crush on Nanette Lepore.—

Gasp! Is love in the air?

Well, no. Ryan quickly added, “I also have a crush on Bob Savage— (Lepore’s husband).

Ryan actually has been friends with Lepore for years, according to a spokeswoman. The designer grew up in Youngstown, Ohio (located in Ryan’s district), and her sister is married to state Rep. Bob Hagan, who also represents Youngstown.

Lepore still remains active in Youngstown politics (she gave $2,300 to Ryan’s campaign in 2008, Federal Election Commission records show), and she’s also come to Washington often in recent months to promote ways to save what is left of New York’s garment district.

And while the Congressman and the designer are just friends, she does appear to hold a special place in his heart. As Ryan exited the screening, he told the crowd: “If you need me directly, call Nanette. Because I always return her calls.—

Overheard on the Hill. “Sign at security at Laguardia NYC airport: NO SNOWGLOBES (and yes, a pic of a snowglobe). Al Qaeda be warned.—

— Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), tweeting about the joys of airport security Friday afternoon.

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