Archive for January, 2010

Sen. Dodd (D., Countrywide) to Treasury: Really? Really???

That’s the totally laughable rumor making its way from Roll Call through the blogosphere.

Chances of this happening: zero. Heck, chances of this remaining a rumor by week’s end: near zero.

But what does it say about certain “Democratic Senate aides” that they would even float this anonymously? I’ll go with: staggering lack of non-Beltway perspective.

Chris Dodd is retiring from the Senate because his “Friends of Angelo” treatment from the erstwhile mortgage lender Countrywide, among other questionable dealings, made his re-election this fall, even in deep-blue Connecticut, increasingly unfathomable. So, yes, by all means, let him replace Secretary Timothy Geithner, who’s merely unpopular and a past tax cheat.

There’s probably a good hypothetical “Republican Senate aides” comparison to be made, but I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure I’ll see some nominees in the comments thread…

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Three more bad signs for Dems, incumbents

If the slow trickle of retirement announcements from House Democrats and one party-switcher represented a canary in the coal mine for Democrats, what does that make yesterday’s trifecta of decisions by leading Democrats not to run for re-election this fall?

Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said yesterday that he would not seek re-election in November, and plans by Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to follow suit also leaked last night according to various published reports.

All three were trailing in opinion polls, and their decisions to step aside may well clear the way for other Democrats to run and retain their seats. But the number of Democrats heading for the exits doesn’t speak well of their still-young time in power nationally or of their prospects in the near future.

Politicians generally don’t pull retirement surprises when their party is on a roll — the perks of being in the majority are too great. Politicians tend to sell high, and this …

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Not everyone thinks global warming would be bad

Greenlanders stand to gain a great deal if their climate warms. From Popular Mechanics:

When the 748-foot Stena Forth plows into the deep waters of Greenland’s Disko West zone next summer, the advanced drillship will be taking the first crack at what could be the world’s biggest untapped reservoir of oil and gas….The United States Geologic Survey estimates [Greenland's] offshore reserves could hold 50 billion barrels of oil and gas, or nearly one-third of the arctic total.

(snip)

While hunters, who make up a sizable proportion of Greenland’s population, are suffering as a result of climate change, government officials quietly confirm that warming temperatures should bring new riches to the country. In addition to oil and gas, the retreat of ice is prompting new onshore mining ventures, and in coming decades Greenland could benefit from shipping as the Northwest Passage become a viable alternative to the Suez and Panama Canals.

One aspect of the climate-change debate …

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Kasim Reed’s vision for Atlanta

Kasim Reed was just sworn in as Atlanta’s 59th mayor, having completed an oath of office that sounded more like a belated job-screening process. (Reed himself joked about the “long and detailed swearing-in” that included affirmations about whether the new mayor is barred by any law from holding office and whether he is truly a resident of the city — the kinds of things that have been sorted out by this stage in the process. But I digress.)

In a mostly fuzzy speech, Reed laid out the barest of outlines of how he intends to move forward. Here are some of the topics he addressed:

  • Reed said he would be known as “the mayor of the small business person” and would within his first year reform the city’s permitting process to make it more efficient and easy to use.
  • The mayor mentioned pensions and the “stark realities” that one in five General Fund dollars goes toward retirement benefits for city workers, but didn’t say how he would approach the problem.
  • In a line he used often …

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And you thought government only wanted your tax dollars

This is simply astonishing. From Reuters:

The attorney general for Washington D.C. has filed a lawsuit against an AT&T Inc unit, seeking to recover consumers’ unused balances on prepaid calling cards.

The suit claims that AT&T should turn over unused balances on the calling cards of consumers whose last known address was in Washington, D.C. and have not used the calling card for three years.

“AT&T’s prepaid calling cards must be treated as unclaimed property under district law,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

So a private citizen pays for a service from a private company but doesn’t use all of it. And now the District of Columbia thinks it has a right to this paid-for-but-unused service?

The Reuters story indicates that this is a common practice with unused balances on gift cards; I hadn’t heard of that before now. But neither gift cards nor prepaid phone cards seem to me like the kind of property whose ownership government needs to be involved in …

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A short, early checklist for Georgia in 2010

As of Monday, Atlanta will have a new mayor. Later this month, a new speaker will preside over the Georgia House of Representatives. By year’s end, Georgians will have elected a new governor and perhaps several other statewide officials.

So, 2010 will be a year in which a time of political transition coincides with a need for strong leadership in several critical policy areas.

This could go really well. Or really badly.

Nah, humbug. Let’s open the year with some optimism — and a checklist for where we hope to be 12 months from now.

Atlanta’s new mayor, Kasim Reed, takes office under more daunting circumstances than did the now-departing Shirley Franklin. The economy is worse, the budget bleaker due to pension obligations that tripled this decade into a nine-digit expense.

For the issues held over from the Franklin administration, we get one year of Peter Aman. The Bain & Company partner, who over the past seven years literally wrote the book on how the city should move …

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