By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
March 04, 2007
That's what is concentrating minds here, as more details emerge about Deborah Palfrey, whom authorities say ran a $2 million business that recruited young women in college for $300 assignations with high-rolling clients. Busted on racketeering charges, Palfrey is considering selling client contact information as a way to raise money to pay for her legal defense.
According to the charges, Palfrey hired only women with at least some college education, and employed more than 130 over the past 12 years for "Pamela Martin and Associates," as the operation was named.
Palfrey denies the charges and says she ran a legal escort service.
The Government Accountability Office is prolific in churning out reports that point out the flaws and flubs in federal agencies. Now, the auditing outfit finds itself on the other end of the blame-throwing, as GAO employees accuse management of trying to stifle efforts to organize union membership for 1,500 GAO analysts.
Lawyers for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers have accused the unit's chief, Comptroller General David Walker, of breaking the rule that he must not disparage the union campaign. Walker denies doing so, but 21 members of Congress, who aren't so sure, have written to remind him of it.
Also percolating is an effort in Congress to create an inspector general at the hugely influential GAO, which, unlike most federal agencies, largely escapes oversight itself.
It's been a while since the Red Menace has raised its ugly head in Washington, given the sorry state of the Communist Party around the world. But Texas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions found cause to red-bait last week, writing House colleagues to warn them that the Communist Party USA was strongly backing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize against employers' wishes. Didn't do much good, apparently, given the bill passed on a largely party-line 241-185 vote Thursday.
Information - the anti-drug. Like Washington lobbyists, drug-company sales reps are feeling a backlash. Many have been laid off as superfluous in an Internet age, and those who still try to make sales calls find their visiting hours restricted and the perks they once showered on doctors now banned in many hospitals and clinics. In many cases, even free samples are verboten.
Now, the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit has begun requiring that drug firms be specially certified to do business with it. And the Pennsylvania department of aging is sponsoring consultants to tout the merits of older, less costly drugs to docs in an effort to counter drug-sale pitches for expensive new brands that work no better than generics.
Not that the ship of state is foundering or anything, but President Bush has turned to the Coast Guard to run things behind the scenes at the White House. Rear Adm. Stephen Rochon will be the new chief usher for the mansion, in charge of maintenance, laundry, food preparation and keeping the first family and guests comfortable. An expert in logistics, financial management, civil engineering and contingency planning, Rochon is a 35-year Coast Guardsman and a history buff who has produced video documentaries. He will be the first black to hold the prestigious post and only the eighth usher in White House history when he takes the helm March 12.
Two new museums are bound for Washington. One will be devoted to the history of U.S. law enforcement and will put visitors in the shoes of a police officer in simulated gun battles and will even showcase pretend autopsies. To be located near the city's courthouses, the National Law Enforcement Museum hopes to open in 2011.
Also coming to town is a Washington version of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which will feature replicas of presidents and celebrities and even the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Construction on the downtown attraction is slated to start, fittingly, on April 1.
Here's one less reason for Fido to hang his head out the car window: The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new drug that is intended to curb upchucking by pooches due to motion sickness or other reasons. Called Cerenia, the drug also has been shown to help canines undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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