Category: Jill Weinberg

Rosa DeLauro: Fueled by People and the Hustle of Congress

December 13th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON – At 10:28 a.m. the northwest corridor of the Rayburn House Office Building is quiet except for the muffled sounds of CNN playing on televisions in Congressional offices–the quiet before the storm.

A moment later, the sounds of high heels hitting the ground intensify like hail on a tin roof. Press Secretary Ashley Westbrook holds her clipboard tightly to her body as she hustles down the dimly lit hallway, trying to keep up with the bustling pace of Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd). DeLauro’s speed escalates like a steaming locomotive while she constantly adjusts the magenta scarf around her neck that drapes down the back of her green suit jacket. The pounding of her high heels stops once she steps onto the carpet in her congressional office, but she keeps moving at full speed into her office. After two hours at the Capitol, running from meeting-to-meeting, she finally collapses into her seat.

DeLauro whirls around the Capitol every day with the same vigor and intensity that attracts as much attention as her array of bright scarves, large necklaces, and flowing skirts. In 1998 and 2000, DeLauro was recognized as the House of Representative’s top “Workhorse” by Washingtonian magazine.

DeLauro said that her work on Capitol Hill isn’t as hectic as people think. “People sometimes view that you’re running about in downtown Washington. Most of the activities are right in these buildings or in the surrounding area. So you do most of your time here,” she said. DeLauro’s political roots began at home in Wooster Square, an Italian neighborhood in New Haven. Her father Ted was an Alderman and known for his hard work that earned him the nickname the “Mayor of Wooster Square” Her mother, Luisa, is today the most senior member of the New Haven Board of Alderman.

“I just knew I wanted to be engaged in politics some day, and I’ve worked to get where I am today,” she said. “People ask me if this job has met my expectations, and I tell them it’s exceeded my expectations,” DeLauro said.

Prior to her election to Congress, DeLauro was a community organizer in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” program and later served as executive assistant to the mayor of New Haven. She also was the executive director of Emily’s List, a national organization committed to increasing the representation of women in politics.

She also married into politics: her husband Stanley Greenberg is a prominent Democratic pollster. Her political work on Capitol Hill included working for seven years as Sen. Christopher Dodd’s (D-CT) chief of staff from 1981-’87.

Dodd described his former chief of staff as “a tenacious fighter with a heart of gold” who has always been known to be a hard-worker. “I often joke that Rosa didn’t work for me, I worked for her,” he said.

She was elected to the 102nd Congress on November 6, 1990 and has established herself as one of the highest-ranking women in the Democratic Party as well as the House of Representatives. In 1999, DeLauro ran for the Democratic Caucus chairmanship but was defeated by Martin Frost of Texas by 11 votes.

After the election, Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt created a new position for her as assistant to the Democratic leader, which not only established an increasing leadership role for democratic women, but also made her the fifth-highest Democrat in the House of Representatives and the highest-ranking Democratic woman. DeLauro’s duties included oversight of policy, communications, serving as a liaison to freshman congressmen, and holding a seat on the Steering Committee, which assigns Democratic members to committees. She was re-elected in 2000.

“What I’ve tried to do is try to have members actively participate in the caucus,” DeLauro said. “I’ve boosted communications, made outreach groups and get members booked onto television shows, so they can have the members engaged and put in the public eye.”

DeLauro’s schedule became busier after she decided to run for Democratic Caucus chairman in October, after Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) stepped down from the position earlier that month. She would be running against Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who currently serves as the Democratic Caucus vice chairman. Both candidates decided to run after Rep. Nancy Pelosi won the election as House minority whip, making her the highest- ranking woman in the House of Representatives for a woman in either party.

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), who serves on the Appropriations Committee with DeLauro, says that her enthusiasm in Congress makes her a role model for women who are interested in politics. “Rosa is a dear friend and a dedicated colleague. Rosa is a leader in Congress and truly stands out for her strong commitment to Democratic ideals. Young girls and even many women in the House look to her as someone that we want to become,” she said. “I don’t know how she does it day in and day out.”

Although DeLauro works 12-hour days that she admits can be overwhelming, she says, “the people here on Capitol Hill, the political energy, and the people who come down from the district give me energy. People get me through the day.”

“My day ends around 8-9 p.m., and when I get home, I just want to sit for a few minutes on the couch and chill out. I might go out to dinner if my husband or friends are in town, but sometimes I’ll go home and open up a can of Progresso soup. Then, I’ll start to look at what I need to do for the next day,” DeLauro said.

Opening Our Minds and Hearts: Stronger Faith Endures the Test of Time

December 13th, 2001 in Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - It was the first brisk night after several days of unusually warm weather for the beginning of December. Young men and women wearing black leather jackets and turtleneck sweaters, along with middle-class people decked out in tattered sweatshirts and dingy Reebok shoes, shuffled into St. Matthew's Cathedral in Northwest Washington, just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of Connecticut Ave.

The evening service was, for the most part, like any other service. The same hymns were sung; the traditional Advent rituals were performed; the attendance at the mass was no different from the usual 300-person turnout.

But before the Rev. Phil Reed began offering the Eucharist and wine to the devout, he shut his eyes and stretched out his arms and exposed his plum-colored robe adorned with silver thread that glimmered under the pale yellow lights. His voice flowed like music and reverberated against the walls decorated with hand-painted frescos while his hands shook slightly with each phrase. "Peace in America. Peace in Afghanistan. Peace in Israel. We pray to the Lord," he chanted. There was a spilt second of silence, longer than the other pauses during the Sunday night church service. Some looked upward and some glanced at loved ones next to them as they tightly grasped the tops of wooden church pews and sang "Lord hear our prayers" along with the 10-person church choir and eight musicians.

When the devastating images of the planes striking the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon appeared on television screens, Americans realized that the most powerful country in the world was, in fact, vulnerable and assailable. Many turned to religion to seek comfort and support on Sept. 11, when America's sense of security collapsed. "How could this happen," many people asked, or "why would God do this to us?"

Even though service attendance dwindled within three months of terrorist attacks, Americans have looked to their religions as a way to find a new outlook on life and new ways to treat other people. The tragedy of Sept. 11 affected every American, regardless of age and creed, which as a result caused people to unite and help everyone cope with the attacks through social unity.

"I prayed later that day·it was a meaningful prayer, and was consoling to me. Now, I really felt the meaning of those words 'live for today, for tomorrow is never guaranteed. My faith has been strengthened as a result especially since we were in DC," said Sanam Nowrouzzadeh, a student at George Washington University and vice president of the Muslim Student Association.

American University sophomore and Chi Alpha Christian Organization member Emily Mariapain said her first reaction after the first plane hit the World Trade Center was to pray. She added that she "was definitely really confused for a long time" about her faith. "It's really hard, especially for Christians who might say, 'How can a God that's so good let something like this happen?' "

For a Muslim woman who is a regular visitor to the Islamic Center, the hardest part of coping with the attacks was how her daily life was changed. "We [Muslims] don't need all this trouble," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used, "but if one person did it, people should not blame the whole Muslim group·. "Even today there are children that call my son Bin Laden because he is Muslim."

Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, the rector of St. Matthew's Church, said that several people came to him after the attacks with doubts about their faith. "I think many people, even those who didn't come, at some point had doubt. 'Why? Why could God let this happen? How could I believe in God who is so good and merciful?' Because God is so good, he gives us that freedom, and sometimes people think that it might be easier not to have it."

Army Pentagon Chaplain Henry A. Haynes said that the people directly involved in the attacks were probably the most affected religiously. "I've heard so many stories of people who were in the impact area. They had to crawl through a wall, crawl through a building on their belly. It's just traumatic. I cannot begin to imagine what they must have been feeling·it causes you to think and struggle with some deep issues," said Haynes.

As Americans grappled with the trauma after one of the most atrocious events in United States history, religious leaders added additional services to accommodate the increased turnout in wake of the terrorist attacks.

Michael Godzwa, the chaplain of the Chi Alpha Christian Organization at American University, said that the although increased interest in seeking spiritual comfort is normal after a major crisis, most of the students who approached him with questions or doubts after Sept. 11 were not active religious members. Godzwa said that most of the students who came to him with doubts were "students who hadn't explored faith and set had up some other ways of coping that seemed to be pulled out from under them came and were questioning. Even now I talk to students on campus who are still questioning, still wondering, still searching for answers."

The first service in the Pentagon after the attack was on Friday, Sept. 14 on the National Day of Prayer. On that day, there were four services, three of which were added the night before after President George W. Bush declared the National Day of Prayer. "Each service was overflowing, standing-room-only·I'm sure if we had the resources, we could've started at 8 a.m. and do services until 5 p.m. and every one would be packed. There's no doubt in my mind," Chaplain Haynes said.

"The mood was humble, thankful, appreciative of what they have. No one really seemed to blame God for this. It was, I would sense, that they were thankful for being alive and concerned about those who were missing or unaccounted for or dead. There was an outpouring of love for one another as if they were saying, 'if you need a shoulder to cry on, you can come and take my shoulder. If you need a hand, use mine,'" Haynes added.

Georgetown University's Imam Yahya Hendi, the first Muslim chaplain ever appointed at an American university, said a service was held on campus, three hours after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. The service "was a moment of prayer, a moment of reconnecting with God, a moment of tears, a moment of true unity of people of different faiths," Hendi said.

Fasih Siddiqui, the president of the Muslim Student Association at George Washington University, said that during "the week of Sept. 11, we were supposed to have our first general body meeting on Thursday. We were anticipating 40-50 people. We ended up having 150 at the meeting. The university let us use the ballroom and had security guards at all events just to make sure that nothing would happen," Siddiqui said.

Todd Schwartz, a member of the Kesher Israel Orthodox Temple, said that most of the support he received after the tragedy came from other members of his congregation. "There were a lot of people who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center, so when I went to service the Saturday after the attacks, I saw people going out of their way to find those people and express their condolences," he said.

For children, turning to religion and prayer helped them to learn and understand the magnitude of Sept. 11. Religious leaders were able to use services as a way to answer the questions about the terrorist attacks. Walt Anderson, the superintendent of St. Paul's Sunday school, said that the children were upset and had a lot of questions. "The children saw how their parents were upset and started to realized how tragic this event was," he said. "I didn't see any kids who were crying or crazy about it. My kids had a lot of questions. 'Are there really dead people down there [in the World Trade Center]? What are we going to do? Are we in danger?' There was a lot of reassurance by the people here. I think it got them through the beginning," he added.

Ten-year old Jordan Wagner, who attends Sunday school at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Northwest Washington, said that she felt better when she prayed more after the attacks. "My sister and I go to a religious school, so we had lots of religious services, and every time before classes we are always praying for the soldiers and the victims. I think that it's good that we pray before every class in the morning and at church services," Wagner said.

Despite the tragic events of Sept. 11 and other subsequent scares around Washington, religious believers remained steadfast to their faith and did not become disillusioned. They used religion as a way to rationalize for themselves and for other why these events occurred.

"For me," Haynes said, "God was where he's always been. God lost his son, you have to be Christian to believe that. God was there but that had to happen in order to get people to do what he wanted them to do."

Hendi said that he received calls people both on and off campus as well as people of different faiths, including Muslims who were concerned about a backlash that they might face in wake of the terrorist attacks. He told Muslim students to offer their knowledge and educate those who don't understand their religion and Islam. "I told them that they needed to reach out to their fellow classmates of other religions and tell them about Islam. We need to make ourselves available to community and invite them to our services on campus."

Rabbi Ethan Seidel of Tifereth Israel Congregation said that Jews turn to the religion to understand and cope with traumatic situations. "As Jews, at such times of turmoil, we have often taken comfort in our ritual and our law. When our lives are so out of balance that we don't know what to grab for stability, our tradition has come through to help us make order out of chaos."

After three months and the country is beginning to return to a state of normalcy, active religious members observe that as a result of Sept. 11, people of all religions are coming together to cope with the tragedy.

Mariapain said, "my faith has increased a lot because I realize that anything can happen at any given moment, and in my beliefs, if my life isn't right, if I'm not living right, if I'm not respecting other people and really taking things for as they are, when they are-that I can be missing out on a lot. If something happened, I could lose my life. I want to make sure that everything is good with me, so I know that I'm going to Heaven."

Pastor Dr. Sterling Morse of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church said that the attacks of Sept. 11 realized that people need to help each other in order to help themselves cope with the tragedy and the events to follow. "One thing that this season of terror has done is remind us that we can't work out our salvation by ourselves," he said.

"As human beings, we are all searching for the strength to move forward through these trying times. As secular humanistic Jews, we are searching for and finding this strength deep within ourselves and within our relationships. We are finding meaning and rewards for our good works here in this life, in this world," said Rabbi Binyamin Biber of Machar, a Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism.

Msgr. Jameson said that families grew closer after the terrorist attacks. "There was more bonding with families probably that afternoon and evening than it happened in a long time. Families today tend to be so involved in so many things," he said.

Siddiqui said the students at George Washington University were very supportive of the Muslim population, which has resulted in what he described as "a big push to learn" about Islam. "We had our email box flooded for some time. They [the student body] wanted to give us emotional support and ask us about Islam."

Hendi did see positive results from Sept. 11. "I think our religious and ethnic diversity became much stronger after Sept. 11, and I think there is more understanding of Islam and Muslims now than before."

David Hurai, the director at the Islamic Center of Washington, said that the center received only condolences from people of all ages and faiths after the attacks. "It was quite touching. We received thousands of letters from people all over the country. People also left flowers around the mosque, and we constantly had to be picking them up every couple of hours."

Students at the Senior High Sunday School class of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in the Washington suburb of Bowie, Md., sent messages of reassurance and sympathy to the Islamic Center of Washington shortly after the terrorist attacks.

Here are some of them: "We want to let you know that we are praying for you. We know that you did not have anything to do with those horrible acts and we hope you are not discriminated against. We also hope no one you know has been hurt or killed. We are thinking of you." "Unlike some other Americans, we know you are innocent. We can only hope other Americans soon realize this. We are praying for your safety." "I hope you know God loves you."

Pentagon Chaplain Haynes said, "time does make a difference, but overall, the people have a much larger heart than they had before. I think this has drawn people closer to God·I think that's the joy of what is happening. If you look deep enough, you can see the silver lining of the cloud. What we have found here, is people's love for one another has increased tremendously. Their love for God has blossomed. I've heard nobody blame God for this, it's more like, 'God's going to get us through this, yes he is.'"

"We may not be the people who are sitting around the United Nations. We may not be the people who are going to be talking to the leaders of the countries over in the Middle East. But, there is still a lot that we can do in our own neighborhoods, our own parish communities," Msgr. Jameson said.

Trail Act Goes to Senate

November 27th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON-Two Connecticut trails that pass through Southington, New Britain and Meriden are one step closer to becoming a part of the National Trails System.

The House passed a measure by voice vote on Oct. 23 that would fund a two-year feasibility study to be conducted by the U.S. Department of Interior for adding the trails to the National Trails S ystem. If the trails become a part of the National Trails System, they would receive federal funding and be protected from development. Sen. John H. Kerry (D-MA) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S.1609) on Nov. 1 and the legislation has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Metacomet and Monadnock Trails are part of the 700-mile network associated with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, the oldest private, nonprofit environmental organization in the state. Volunteers of the Connecticut organization maintain the trails.

The Metacomet and Monadnock trails extend miles through western Massachusetts. The Mattabesett Trail begins in central Connecticut of the state and ends at Long Island Sound.

The bill sponsored by Rep. John Olver (D-MA) and cosponsored by five members of the Connecticut delegation including Reps. John B. Larson (D-1st), Robert R. Simmons (R-2nd), Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd), James H. Maloney (D-5th) and Nancy L. Johnson (R-6th).

"Passing a Metacomet-Mattabesett trail study represents a definitive step in preserving these precious lands from potential development," Johnson said on the House floor. "Designation as National Scenic Trails will ensure that these areas receive protection against severe environmental degradation."

The bill originally also included the Sunapee trail in western New Hampshire but co-sponsor Rep. Charles F. Bass (R-NH) withdrew sponsorship and the inclusion of the trail from the amendment. Elissa Hart, a press security for Rep. Olver, said that New Hampshire landowners has concerns over land acquisition, and Bass felt that his constituents were not prepared to support the bill.

Sen. Lieberman Speaks at United Jewish Communities Conference

November 20th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - Connecticut Senator Joseph I. Lieberman quoted Ecclesiastes 7:8 at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Washington, DC yesterday during a panel discussion about faith-based initiative legislation. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."

Lieberman spoke to a group of 250 people on the last day of the five-day conference about the need for more Faith-Based Initiatives. He said he supported tax deductions for those who donate to charities but should be careful "to be careful to respect the Consitution and concerns of many citizens."

Lieberman co-sponsored the Savings Opportunity and Charitable Giving Act of 2001, which would provide tax deductions for people who donate to charities. Lieberman said that he would like to pass legislation that expands charitable choice, which allows taxpayers to donate to religious organizations.

In 2000 Lieberman and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) formed the Congressional Empowerment Caucus, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members to improve poverty with the help of federal efforts as well as private and faith-based organizations.

Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, was the first Jewish-American to be nominated for the Vice Presidential candidacy in the 2000 election.

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) also spoke at the conference and said that the Community Solutions Act of 2001, the House counterpart to the Senate bill, is insufficient and infringes on the civil rights. According to Nadler, the tax incentive provision of the bill amounts to a couple of dollars.

Nadler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he also against the "charitable choice" provision of the House bill. He said that allocating public funds to organizations that practice religious discrimination breaks the wall between church and state.

Nadler also said that allocating federal aid to religious organizations could cause tension between religious groups. He said that more mainstream religious groups would receive more funding than less popular religions like the Wiccans or the Nation of Islam.

U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge spoke at the conference on Monday night about the role of Israel will play in the fight against terrorism. He said, "since Sept. 11, we have much to do and much to learn. We can look to Israel to help."

Nearly 4,000 delegates, including 700 students, attended the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, the largest annual gathering of Jewish communal and community leaders from North America and Israel.

"We know that faith can be a great and enduring source of values-a powerful inspiration to live a good life. And we know many faith-based and charitable and service organizations are capitalizing on this potential and helping to rekindle and transform lives," said Lieberman.

Redistributing Tears Constituents and Incumbents in ’02 Election

November 7th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - John Votto, the Chief Executive Officer at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, lives in the 5th congressional district, represented by Democrat James H. Maloney. But his campaign contributions are going to Republican Nancy Johnson, from the neighboring 6th district. "She's always been a hospital-friendly person," he said. "I've worked with her, and she understands the issues." But he quickly added, "It's a tough issue because I have nothing against Maloney."

It may be even tougher next year if Maloney and Johnson are thrown into the same district in the November general election as a result of the reapportionment that will cost Connecticut one of its six House districts.

But that's just one of the possible outcomes of the redistricting review now before the Connecticut General Assembly. Another scenario would require Johnson to face Christopher Shays (R-4th) in next year's Republican primary. And that could create a problem for some Republican voters.

Not for Francis Quealy Jr., however. A Shays constituent and a lobbyist for the American Association of Life Underwriters, Quealy donated $750 this past quarter to Johnson because of her legislative work on health care and insurance. "She's very familiar with the life insurance issues," he said. "She's got a real deep working knowledge of our issues.

"I'm a Republican, but I would vote for her even if she were a Democrat. I plan on donating $1,000 by the end of the year."

According to a staff member from Connecticut State Senate Speaker Moria K. Lyons (D), who is a co-chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly Redistricting Commission, the nine-member group has until Nov. 30 to pass a plan for the new congressional districts. If the deadline is missed, the State Supreme Court finalizes the plan.

The U.S. Constitution requires that districts be equal in population and that the number of congressional seats each state has must be determined every 10 years in light of the decennial census. After the 2000 Census, Connecticut has lost one seat because the state has lost population relative to other states. Every state must redistrict every ten years, but a Connecticut Redistricting Commission must consolidate six congressional districts into five, which they are in the process of completing.

"The next couple of days, we'll get a sense where we want to go, but Mr. Maloney will probably be running against Nancy Johnson or Chris Shays," said Connecticut State Senate Minority Leader Louis C. DeLuca (R) who is on the nine-member redistricting commission.

The Federal Census Bureau in 2001 showed that the Connecticut population grew slower than the rest of the United States, which resulted in five congressional seats each with a population roughly of 680,000, one fewer than today.

Jeff Nicholas, the first selectman for the town of Bethlehem and an attorney in Waterbury in Torrington, testified at a state reapportionment committee hearing on July 17. He said that in his testimony, one of the goals should be "to keep experienced and influential people in the delegation." He said, "the delegation without Maloney or Johnson would be detrimental to the state."

Nicholas said that if next year's election is against Maloney and Johnson, he would pick Maloney. "I support Jim Maloney. I contributed to his campaign and held fundraisers on his behalf. He's been proactive on different issues such as armed services and financial reform."

"Well, it's going to be a tough decision. I was hoping to see them do away with the other part of the district on the other end of the state. I support both of them [Maloney and Johnson]," said Richard Velky, a Woodbury resident and constituent of James Maloney.

Velky said that if he had to vote between the two incumbents, he would have to examine the primary issues of each candidate. "Healthcare is a very important issue for my family. That might be the swaying vote."

In 1988, when Johnson became the first female member of the Ways and Means Committee, healthcare and insurance industries started to contribute to her election campaigns. When she was appointed Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health in 2001, she has been the top recipient for industry donations. Her main pieces of legislation help improve healthcare coverage and Medicare and restore and secure Social Security.

Johnson's top five industry donors are related to healthcare, which include Health Services/HMOs and Health Professionals. In the 2001-2002 election cycle, Johnson is the top congressional recipient for the pharmaceutical and health care product industry, which is18th highest contributing industry to a Congressional Campaign receiving $81,000. She was a top recipient for Hospital and Nursing Home Industry, receiving $64,445 from the 28th largest contributing industry in Congressional Campaigns.

Maloney said his campaign fundraising strategy is to "raise an equal amount of personal contributions and PACs. I expect that will continue." For the first six months of this election cycle, Maloney has received $110, 752 from individual contributions and $252, 337 from PAC contributions.

Maloney has raised record-breaking amounts of money for his past campaigns. According to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, the 2000 Maloney campaign raised $2,106,499.80 for the election, whereas Johnson raised $1,583,962. Maloney's fundraising figures was $315,000 more than the Connecticut House record established by Johnson in 1998.

Maloney has broken his own fundraising record for the first six months of the new campaign cycle (2001-2002). He has raised more than $364,000, exceeding last year's record by $100,000.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee and House Armed Services Committee, Maloney's main legislative goals pertain to fund education, provide tax relief, and secure job stability for small businesses and defense contractors.

Even though Maloney's top five industry contributors which include building trade unions, transportation unions and defense aerospace companies have donated $116,767, Johnson's $334,434 in top five healthcare donors are almost three times more than the top five contributors that donate to the fifth district incumbent.

Craig Taylor, the Campaign Director for Johnson, said that the redistricting has not had a significant change on fundraising for next year's election. "When you're in a leadership position, while you're limited by district, you're appeal and influence goes beyond its borders," said Taylor.

Taylor said that because the districts have not been drawn, he would have to change how to approach the media aspect of the campaign, which he described as "a shot-gun approach as opposed to a focused rifle approach."

"Obviously one of the things under this circumstance is cast a wider net," Taylor added. He said that the campaign work is focused to get background on towns and what towns are a benefit."

Losing one the congressional seats would tip the scale of party leadership for the Connecticut Representatives. Right now, there are three democratic representatives (Rosa DeLauro (3rd), John B. Larson (1st), Maloney) and three republican representatives (Johnson, Shays, Robert B. Simmons (2nd)). If Maloney runs against Johnson or Shays, the victory of next year's election would determine the party leadership for the delegation. On the national level, the Republicans have leadership in the House of Representatives from their seven-seat majority.

"I don't think that anyone who is an incumbent looks forward to running against any other incumbent, Maloney said. "We face an inevitable situation. My goal is to be prepared for any circumstance."

Public Service Organization Launched to Increase Public Service Interest

November 1st, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - "People want security, and you don't have that" in the federal government, said Lisa Schwartz, a business student from South Windsor who is interning in the office of Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd's office. And that's something the new Partnership for Public Service is looking to change.

The Partnership for Public Service, launched on Oct. 23, is a non-profit organization that has developed a plan to revive interest in public service. The plan includes communications and education outreach efforts, legislative reforms and research studies, all aimed at improving awareness of and attitudes toward federal employment.

The new organization's Board of Governors includes academics, current and former members of Congress and many others from both the public and private sectors including Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). Lieberman joined the board, said Leslie Phillips, his director of communications, "because he believes the human capital crisis is a serious concern for the government, and because he wants to be part of the solution."

Phillips added that Lieberman believes "that the events of Sept. 11 will encourage more of the nation's 'best and brightest' to contribute their energies to the service of their country. The Senator is heartened by the outpouring of patriotism the Sept. 11 attacks inspired and believed that patriotism should be harnessed. One way to harness it is through national service. This is a time, the Senator believes, when we need to put national interest above individual or partisan interests, and he thinks a majority of Americans feel the same way in the wake of Sept. 11."

The new organization was created with a $25 million donation from Samuel J. Heyman, the chairman and chief executive officer of the GAF Corp. and a Westport, Conn. native. His interest in the subject is not new. In November 1999, Heyman donated $5 million to his alma mater, Harvard Law School, to encourage graduates of the school to enter public service by forgiving student loans of graduates who go to work for the federal government.

Max Stier, the Partnership for Public Service's president and chief executive officer, warned that 50 percent of the federal workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next three years including 70 percent of senior managers leaving more government positions than people to fill them.

"This crisis, if it comes to pass, will affect each and every American," Stier said. "It could appear in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the national parks where we take our vacations. It can show up on our highways, at our ports and in our skies. It may touch the Social Security checks our grandparents depend on, or the unemployment benefits many of us need today."

Patricia McGinnis, the president and chief executive officer of the Council For Excellence In Government, is joining the Partnership for Public Service in its efforts and McGinnis is a member of the new group's board. She said that the need for federal employees has always been strong, but became even stronger after Sept. 11. "Because the work is so critical-and we're seeing that more than ever after Sept. 11-we really do need the best and the brightest," she said. "We need the best people on the front line."

The evidence that "the best and the brightest" are flocking to government service is mixed, however.

McGinnis said the number of applications to some federal agencies increased after Sept. 11, but not across the board. "We know anecdotally that applications for the CIA are way up, and I think the agencies that are on the front lines·now are seeing an increase in applications."

She said that the Council for Excellence in Government and the Partnership for Public Service joined in sponsoring polls in August and October by the survey research firms of Peter D. Hart and Robert M. Teeter. The more recent poll revealed that trust in the government went up after Sept. 11, but interest in joining the federal workforce did not, McGinnis said. "Focus and attention [on recruiting] has not been translated" into increased interest in joining the federal work force, she said.

Comments by University of Connecticut students who are currently interning in Washington suggest that the events of Sept. 11 have not had a dramatic impact on their career choices.

Mat Jasinski, a political science student and a Ridgefield resident, has always been interested in going into politics. "As a lawmaker you are constantly pursuing an agenda you think is right while simultaneously dealing with constituents' wants, needs, demands and insecurities."

The problem is, Jasinski added was "government jobs have had the stereotype that they require cutting through a lot of bureaucracy and don't have much task flexibility or job security."

Emily Graner, a student of political science and Spanish and a Ledyard native, is an intern this semester in Lieberman's Washington office. She said that her interest in public service has been reinforced since Sept. 11. Even before that date, her interests included joining the Peace Corps or taking some other federal job abroad after her graduation next year.

"I kind of had all those ideas of the Peace Corps, but more so after Sept. 11," Graner said. "Some people think the downside [of foreign service] is moving around every three of four years, but I think it would be neat to travel and learn about different cultures."

Lisa Schwartz, said she believes her career goals could be achieved more readily in the private sector. "They pay you better in the private sector; there is more opportunity for advancement," she said.

Brian Harris, a Peace Corps recruiter for Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, said that there was has been an increase in interest in joining the corps since Sept. 11. "Our phones have been ringing off the hook right after Sept. 11," he said. "I think the need has always been there, but the incident brought it closer."

Lt. Col. John B. Durbin, the program director of the Army ROTC program at the University of Connecticut, said that despite recruiting efforts, there hasn't been an increase in enrollment. "I talked to a lot of people, and most of the people were interested prior to Sept. 11," he said. "There's always a need for people to serve their country, but if people wanted to serve, they would."

At Trinity College in Hartford, Ellen Gagnon, operations and project manager of the Career Center, said she has seen not seen a rise in inquiries about public service work since the terrorist attacks. "Not really, not on this campus," she said.

Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), and Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Oh.), who serves on the board of the Partnership for Public Service, are proposing legislation to assign a human capital officer in each government agency, establish "critical pay authority" to attract individuals to jobs that are hard to fill and recruit college students with student loan forgiveness incentives.

Morella, in a statement she issued the day the organization was launched, said, "Our civil service is the reason that America is the greatest nation in the world today, but that could change if we do not take steps to address the recruitment and retention crisis."

"The events of Sept. 11 have opened eyes to the importance of government, but much work remains," Stier said.

National ID Cards at Center of Civil Liberties Debate

October 24th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON-Connecticut Representative Nancy Johnson (R-6th) thinks a high-tech national identification card is needed to combat terrorism against the United States.

Earlier this month, Johnson said she favored a bill establishing a National ID card that would use biometric surveillance such as retinal and fingerprint scans to strengthen U.S. security and find suspected criminals faster.

Johnson told Congressional Quarterly that she was considering proposing such a bill. In the Oct. 9 article, Johnson said: "We need these biometric devices to tell who someone really is. We want a system that will make sure that people who get on planes are not on the list of 200 most wanted list of terrorists."

In a more recent interview, however, she said she was too busy drafting other legislation, including prescription drug benefits for the elderly, to sponsor ID card legislation at this time, although she still favored the idea.

Her press secretary, Jennifer Schaming, said that Johnson wants to Discuss and explore the subject. She hasn't drafted a bill yet, Schaming said, because she wants to be sure a national ID card "doesn't pounce on civil liberties."

Johnson said last week that "modern technology now allows the rather easy falsification of papers. It's quite easy to get a false driver's license, a false passport, false everything."

"There's a whole underground that sells these papers and does very well, so given the advances in imaging technology and the possibility if the wrong person is allowed access to the wrong place at the wrong time, I think we simply have an obligation to know what identity cards do accomplish in other societies," said Johnson.

"I think we have to raise the issue whether that [Social Security] number, connected with a picture or a driver's license connected with a picture, is a sufficient identification that you are you. And they are going to be more and more circumstances in which we are going to decide we really do need to know that you are you and you don't just look like you," she said.

Rep. James H. Maloney (D-5th) said he wants to see any national ID cards limited to non-citizens. "Obviously there was no American citizen we know yet involved in these terrorist activities," he said. "All of these were foreign citizens, and I very much believe that we need to improve our identification for purposes of people coming into this country whether they're tourists or student visas or work visas or whatever circumstance it might be."

He added that when dealing with civil liberties, " I think that the public needs to be heard on the issue. I'd like to have a sense of what my constituents think about it. The most valuable thing the United States has, the most valuable possession of this country is the Constitution. That is what makes the United States the United States. And whenever we're dealing with issues that come up to touching the Constitution of the United States, I think it has to be very carefully thought through."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd) cautioned that Congress has just acted on a broad anti-terrorism bill and that "we ought to see how that's working before we move in the other direction."

The American Civil Liberties Union has consistently and strongly opposed the idea of national identification as an infringement on personal privacy.

Gregory T. Nojeim, legislative counsel of the ACLU Washington Office, said in a past press release "a national id card, and national ID systems-sort of the national ID in virtual reality-mark the gravest of threats to personal privacy in the United States," he said.

"Proposals for a national identification card or system have appeared over the years as tempting quick fixes for national problems to one segment of the population or another," Nojeim added.

In a newsletter from the libertarian Cato Institute, Adam Thierer, Director of telecommunications studies, said that national ID cards would be a burden and an invasion of civil liberties. "The bottom line is that mandatory national ID cards aren't going to help us catch many bad guys. While the first responsibility of government is to protect our lives and property, we shouldn't rush into giving up some of our freedoms," he said.

"Instead of providing such a meaningful solution, national ID cards will become, at a minimum, an unnecessary nuisance for most citizens," Thierer added. "Worse yet, in extreme cases it could produce massive breaches of individual privacy."

Lawrence Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., has offered to donate the computer software to create databases for the government to help create a national ID card system. But he has said that use of the cards should be voluntary for American citizens. In a statement, Ellison said that "the single greatest step we could take to making life tougher for the terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in the myriad government databases was copied into a single, comprehensive national security database," he said.

According to Ellison, the cards would contain personal information currently found on driver's licenses and Social Security cards but that computer technology such as a retinal, palm or finger prints would connect personal data to an intelligence, immigration and law enforcement database that includes wanted lists from the CIA, the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The ID cards would be used to verify a person's identity, particularly at airports.

He said that ID cards should be voluntary for U.S. citizens but mandatory for foreign citizens, including visitors who are on work and student visas.

On Oct. 17, Ellison said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News that he had met with. Attorney General John Ashcroft and officials at the CIA and FBI in Washington , over the past week to discuss the idea. "We are in the process of putting a proposal together and analyzing what it would take to get something running in a matter of a small number of months, like three months, 90 days," Ellison said. "We think we could put up this technology very, very quickly." Oracle, in Redwood City, Calif., is one of the leading makers of database software.

According to Forbes magazine, Ellison is the fourth-richest man in the world, with a wealth of $25 billion. According to Privacy International, an independent, non-government organization that keeps track of national surveillance systems, about 100 countries have national identification card systems. In Argentina, for example, all citizens over the age of 8 must obtain an identification card are fined for registering late. In Spain, citizens must carry a "Documento Nacional de Identidad," which proves the bearer's nationality and eligibility for work and for the Spanish health care system.

European countries that have compulsory national ID systems include Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. Generally the cards are used to reduce illegal immigration and voting fraud and to serve as proof of eligibility for health care and other government services. The United Kingdom established national identification cards in 1939 to identify aliens but abandoned the cards in 1952. The British government, however, has been considering reintroduction of ID cards in the aftermath of last month's terrorist attacks in the United States.

John Damino, professor of criminal justice at Southern Vermont College in Bennington and a former Albany, N.Y., police captain, said his concerns about a national ID card are with the amount and kinds of information is stored on the card. "My concern is not that you would have a national ID, which would be I think a very good idea, but to how much information that we are willing to allow the federal government to collect on us," he said.

"It shouldn't go beyond what normal drivers' licenses collect, except perhaps a fingerprint," Damino continued. But if it goes beyond that to "let's throw in their credit record," or similar unnecessary information, he said, the card would have "the potential to follow us and be big brother. But that's why we need oversight and response to it."

"National ID cards themselves are obviously not an evil," said Swarthmore College political scientist Jeffrey Murer, whose research focuses on European countries where cards are prevalent.

"However, past experiences show that the issuance of such cards is demonstrative of expanded state power, particularly police power. The regulation of movement, the pretext for random searches, the connection of the cards to citizenship rights--these are some of the many aspects which should be considered before the United States rushes into this."

Gov. Rowland Holds Bush’s First Fundraiser

October 17th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - For the first time since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, President George W. Bush is scheduled to attend a political fundraiser. It will be held on Oct. 25 in Washington, and Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, the new chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, will be hosting the event.

The event, described as "An Evening with President George W. Bush," will be held at the National Building Museum, and attendance is limited to members of the RGA's Governors' Club, a group of contributors who donate money to the RGA. Individual tickets cost $1,000 and corporate VIP tickets cost $5,000, with all proceeds going to the RGA. Those who cannot attend or join the Governors' Club can get their names listed in the event program by donating $250 or more.

After the terrorist attacks, the Republican and Democratic National Committees had asked party members to hold off on fundraising until the first week in October.

Rowland sent out invitations to the fundraiser on Oct 1. The invitations describe the event as "a chance to rally around our President and prepare for the political challenges that lie ahead in 2002." It adds that the event will bring together the President, the Republican Governors, Bush Administration officials "and a host of top Republican VIPs."

"This relaxing and informative event will provide you with direct interaction with our GOP Governors to build and strengthen personal friendships and enable you to attend our business sessions where we exchange ideas, discuss policy and lay the groundwork to build on our accomplishments," the invitation stated.

Clinton Key, the executive director of the RGA, said that they expect 750-1000 people to attend the fundraiser. Bush planned on attending when the fundraiser was scheduled eight months ago, but he is no longer confirming his schedule after Sept. 11. "We hope he'll be there, but if not, we'll understand and the event will go on," Key said.

The next RGA fund-raiser is the group's annual conference, on Nov. 8 in Las Vegas. Rowland became vice chairman of the RGA in February and became chairman when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge resigned on Oct. 5 to become director of homeland security in the Bush White House.

Rowland's duties as RGA chairman include coordinating government policy and election policy, signing off on fundraising events and endorsing the 29 Republican governors and the party's other candidates. Dean Pagani, the director of communications for Rowland, said Rowland works six to eight hours a week as RGA chairman.

"No one has done more to exemplify and champion those values than Governor John Rowland, to which the people of Connecticut could attest," said Ridge in a statement after his resignation. "I thoroughly enjoyed working with John, and I am confident that he will do a tremendous job at the helm of the RGA."

Increased Mail Security Throughout Congress

October 16th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON-Connecticut Representatives were distressed but not surprised about the anthrax scare that has prompted changes in security and mail-handling procedures at the Capitol.

"If someone is going to attack a newspaper, even a tabloid, then it's not much of a stretch to realize that they would not any compunctions about attacking a government official like Majority Leader [Tom] Daschle," said Representative James H. Maloney (D-5th).

"Clearly, these anthrax attacks are deliberate and well-planned and necessarily have to be fairly well-financed, because anthrax is not something you can go down to Home Depot and buy," he added.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd) said her staff in Washington and her district staff are in talks with the House Sergeant at Arms about safety precautions. DeLauro also said there was a session for members Friday. "I think the Sergeant at Arms, the Capitol police, members, we're all trying to make sure that all precautions are necessary, to essentially make sure that people who are here are safe, and that's what's critically important," she said.

"These things are necessary precautions because we have a lot of folks who work up here, quite honestly, a lot of young people who are anxious to work for the federal government. And in addition to you having members here, you have a lot of staff," she said. "Without these precautionary measures, we put these folks at risk, and that's not something that we want to do," DeLauro added.

Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-6th) said she and her staff are going about their daily business but are on extra alert. "I tell my staff and I tell myself it's very important to be observant and cautious," she said. "And if there's anything that you observe that seems out of the ordinary to report it and take action. And if we do those things then I think we're all going to be as secure tomorrow as we were before Sept 11."

Maloney said his staff attended a briefing Monday on how to handle incoming mail and were told that all mail deliveries will be pre-screened. He said, "My first reaction, of course, is concern for [Daschle's] staff who have been exposed apparently to anthrax, and we're all worried about them and concerned about them, and we are also concerned about other staff members on Capitol Hill who work so hard to get the mail opened and distributed."

Maloney said the anthrax attack "is also a source of anger in that it is going to take additional personnel, it's going to take additional money, it's going to be an additional inconvenience, and all of those resources would be better spent on education or health care or tax relief."

Lt. Dan Nichols, Capitol Police spokesman, said direct mail delivery to the Capitol would be suspended until "we have protocols in place and we have procedures in place and we have time to train the staff. á We're going to work very diligently with the staff to put these protocols in place to ensure their safety."

Memos have been sent to Senate and House offices to explain the new mail-handling procedures. The memos said the Postal Service would deliver all office mail to an off-site Capitol Police building a few blocks away from the Capitol for X-ray examination before delivery to the Capitol.

Maloney assured constituents that mail delivery would take at most a day or two more once the new procedure was up and running. "So, there will be no substantial delay as a result of this new screening process that will be put in place. But there will, on the other hand, be a very substantial improvement in the protection of the people who open the mail."

Johnson said her concern is that communication flow between offices not be interrupted. "Personally, I think if they had given our Washington staff the same training they gave the district staff that that would be adequate," she said. "It's true that the threat is somewhat greater in Washington than in the [home] district, but not a lot greater, and the observations that they're going to make are observations that we could've made. I'm not convinced that the centralized review of the mail is necessary in Washington, but my main concern is that it be fast."

Authorities closed part of the eight-story Hart Senate Office Building Tuesday morning after confirmation that Daschle's office, in that building, had received a letter containing anthrax. Nichols said the offices of 12 senators, including Daschle's, were closed and that those who work in the building, including cleaning crews and police, would be screened Tuesday and receive Cipro, an antibiotic, to fight anthrax. "We are erring on the side of caution, erring on the side of prudence in how we're dealing with this," he said.

According to Nichols, Capitol tours have been suspended indefinitely but not in response to the anthrax scare. The tours, he said, are "an important part of the Capitol experience, and we want people to have that experience. We also want to make sure that it's safe for all those who visit up here."

"I've always been very excited about the fact that this is the most open capitol complex in the world," said DeLauro, "but the fact of the matter is we need to take precautions," she said.

Johnson said that closing the Capitol for tours was not a good idea. "I think it's a shame that they [tourists] can't take a tour of the Capitol. We vote in the Capitol every single day, and if I thought it was dangerous I wouldn't do that," she said. "I think as long as everyone knows they're in the Capitol, and naturally the Capitol is a desirable target, á I think they should have a right to go in the Capitol and not be overly discouraged by those who have other opinions."

DeLauro said Congress should continue on normal business. "We've got some serious pieces of legislation that we are dealing with, and I think we need to move to get them done, and that's not because of safety issues," she said. "I don't anticipate the anthrax discovery will hinder that, but the fact is we ought to be moving quickly on the airport security bill, whether or not there was the anthrax scare, and we ought to be moving on an economic stimulus package; those things ought to be done."

Johnson said Congress should take its time with legislation. "I think it's better if we go about our work and just do it well," she said. "That's what everybody else in our society has to do. They have a responsibility to continue to their job and to do it well, and so do we. I don't think rushing our job is a reasonable response."

DeLauro’s Fight for Food Safety Goes to Senate Committee

October 11th, 2001 in Connecticut, Fall 2001 Newswire, Jill Weinberg, Washington, DC

By Jill Weinberg

WASHINGTON - For two years, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd) has pressed Congress unsuccessfully to create a single federal agency to regulate food safety. Now, in the aftermath of last month's terrorist attacks, the heightened fears of bioterrorism attacks have put her proposal back into play.

DeLauro said in a statement that the issue of food safety and the need to strengthen food safety regulations is more important since the terrorist attacks. "Globalization, an aging population, and faster production and distribution of food increase the risk of people getting sick," DeLauro said. "The problem is now further exacerbated by the threat of bioterrorism."

"It particularly makes good sense now after Sept. 11, so the people can have a sense of security about the food supply," she added.

On Wednesday, DeLauro testified before the Senate Government Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Management in support of the Safe Food Act that committee chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) has sponsored.

"I called this hearing because we need to make changes to a system in which chronic shortcomings could turn critical," Durbin said in a press release. "Today, my goal remains unchanged-the only real difference is Sept. 11. Whether it's undetected E. coli in an undercooked hamburger or a deliberate contamination of our food, we need to fix the system to safeguard against tragedy on any scale."

In 1999 DeLauro sponsored a Safe Food Act that would have combined the functions of the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Commerce Department's Seafood Inspection Program and other federal food safety functions. The new, independent agency would have been financed with the combined budgets of the consolidated agencies.

"American families should be able to sit down at the table and know that their food is free from contamination," DeLauro said last month, as she visited her district in September during National Food Safety Education Month to campaign for the legislation and to preach the importance of food safety education.

Currently, 12 federal agencies administer as many as 35 food safety laws, many of which are conflicting. The two main agencies are the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry and processed eggs, and the FDA, which is responsible for the safety of most other foods.

"We've got one agency that deals with cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza," she said. "This is silly. We need to consolidate all of the efforts that deal with food and food safety in one place."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5,000 Americans die each year from food-borne illnesses, more than 76 million become ill and 325,000 are hospitalized. The Agriculture Department estimates annual costs of $5.6 billion to $9.4 billion associated with medical expenses and losses in productivity from seven major types of food-borne illnesses.

"The FDA has reported that they would need more than 3,000 additional employees to be able to inspect all domestic [food] plants just once a year," DeLauro said. "And they would need 1,500 more to increase inspection of imported food" from 1 per cent" of all such imports to 10 percent.

DeLauro said she offered an amendment to this year's agriculture appropriations bill that would have provided $90 million for 1,600 additional FDA inspectors for imported food and $73 million for 630 domestic inspectors.

Peter Chalk, a policy analyst for RAND, spoke at the Wednesday hearing on the physical and economic threats of bioterrorism in America. He reported that the food industry constitutes roughly 2 percent of the country's gross domestic product. So a terrorist attack could jeopardize agricultural as well as industrial jobs, he said.

"The downstream effect of any deliberate act of sabotage or destruction to this highly valuable industry would be enormous, creating a tidal wave effect that would be felt by all these sectors, impacting, ultimately, on the ordinary citizen.·Terrorists could use this to their advantage, allowing them to create a general atmosphere of fear and anxiety without actually having to carry out indiscriminate civilian-oriented attacks," Chalk said.

Bernard A. Schwetz, the FDA's acting principal deputy commissioner, acknowledged that federal food safety needs to be strengthened but said that the solution is new services, such as surveillance systems, better prevention programs, faster responses to outbreaks and enhanced education.

"Our world is constantly changing, and we must continue to change with it," he said. "Indeed, we cannot rest until we have built a strong and credible food safety system that addresses the full range of food safety issues."