Florida Elections Chief Gives Up Responsibilites

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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Election Chief Dialing Back
Just days after Florida declared Tampa lawyer Bill McBride the official winner of the state's Democratic gubernatorial primary, Broward County's elections chief has announced plans to surrender most of her general-election responsibilities. It took a week to determine the winner of the race between McBride and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno — and the balloting was marred by equipment glitches and human error reminiscent of the 2000 Presidential race, despite a $32 million overhaul of Florida's election system. Miriam Oliphant said, "I've fallen short in the office when it comes to management," and she apologized, "for all of the issues that have been out there." Under pressure from Gov. Jeb Bush and other officials, Oliphant agreed to let the county commission run the Nov. 5 election.    

Says School Gave In to be "P.C."
Vanderbilt University is dropping the word "Confederate" from the name of a residence hall, angering a group that helped finance it. The private liberal arts university has renamed Confederate Memorial Hall to Memorial Hall. The old name had stirred debate on campus since Vanderbilt renovated the hall in 1988, and several black students refused to set foot inside. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, which contributed a third of the funds to build the facility 67 years ago, says the school caved in to political correctness. But Michael Schoenfeld, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor for public affairs, says the decision is "one of a number of changes we've made to create a more positive, inclusive environment."  

President Speaks, Not Everyone Agrees
Meanwhile, Harvard President Lawrence Summers, in a speech to students, warned about rising anti-Semitism on campus — citing actions he deems "anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent." He named calls for the university to divest from Israel and an Islamic student group's fund-raising activities. Not everyone shared the president's view. Says philosophy professor Richard G. Heck, "To lump people who are working for peace in Israel with racists is really unfair, I'm very, very disappointed that the president of the university would have made those accusations." Summers said he was speaking merely as a concerned member of the community, and not as president of the university. 

Cops Can't Make More Than Congress
And finally, in Washington D.C., a handful of U.S. Capitol police officers are bumping into a salary cap that prevents employees of Congress from making more money than actual members of Congress. The Washington Post reports officers' paychecks have inflated thanks to huge amounts of overtime. Their limit — $148,500 — is usually only for top Capitol Hill aides or other senior Capitol officials, but several police officers who usually average $53, 327 have been told they might have to forgo extra duty or be furloughed for the rest of the year if they reach the cap. In the year since the 9/11 attacks, Police Chief Terrance Gainer says the Capitol Police Department's 1,272 officers have pulled enough additional shifts to add up to work that would have required 262 additional officers on normal shifts.