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Bush 'hack' fires back at John Kerry

| Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005

John Kerry appears to be in a bit of legal hot water.

The Massachusetts senator and last year's Democrat presidential nominee was sued in Philadelphia last week for alleged defamation, conspiracy and interference with contractual relations.

The lawsuit's plaintiff is award-winning journalist Carlton Sherwood, who contends his anti-Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal" was torpedoed last year by Kerry and other top Dems.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported the lawsuit alleges that Kerry, during last year's presidential campaign, directed the Democratic National Committee to label Sherwood as "an extreme right-wing activist."

This directive supposedly was given just before the documentary was to be aired on Sinclair Broadcasting's 62 stations nationwide. Sinclair subsequently backed out of plans to broadcast the documentary in its entirety.

The lawsuit also alleges that Kerry's Pennsylvania campaign manager, Anthony Podesta, circulated an e-mail labeling Sherwood as a "disgraced former journalist" and "Bush hack" who "crawled out of the gutter." Podesta is a codefendant in the litigation.

Kerry, who is married to Pittsburgh ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

CAN ONE OF YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE A PAY-JACKING REPEAL? While more than 50 state House members have cosponsored bills to repeal the General Assembly's outrageous pay grab, no state senator has stepped forward to introduce similar legislation.

Republican Sen. Jane Earll of Erie last week claimed in the Trib that she drafted a repeal bill but didn't have support for the measure.

That prompted Republican Sen. Jane Orie of McCandless to fire off a letter to Earll, reminding her that they had discussed the matter "numerous times over the past several months," adding that she fully supports repeal.

(Both Orie and Earll voted against the July maneuver that raised lawmakers' salaries from 16 percent to 54 percent.)

Orie told Earll she would be "honored to hold the position of second sponsor of your legislation," which would repeal the unvouchered expense provision of the pay-jacking legislation that lets lawmakers collect the pay hike now rather than wait until they may be re-elected.

Pay hike opponents say it's important to get a bill filed in the Senate so they can urge legislators to push for a vote. Earll, however, has said it would be "grandstanding" to introduce the bill without sufficient support.

If Earll doesn't deliver, there's nothing preventing Orie from filing her own repeal bill. Plenty of the North Hills senator's constituents would appreciate her taking the lead if Earll is giving up -- whether it's "grandstanding" or not.

A RICH, FULFILLING EXISTENCE. "Get a life," Democrat state Sen. Robert Mellow of Lackawanna County e-mailed constituent William McIntyre this summer when McIntyre had the gall to complain about the pay-jacking.

McIntyre took the advice. The Camp Hill resident surfaced last week as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed by several organizations and individuals to block the pay-jacking.

Our advice to Mellow, whose salary rose from $100,000 to $134,000 for his fine work of being obstinate in the face of demands by people who pay his salary: Be careful what you wish for, Bob.

INDEFENSIBLE SPELLING. The Allegheny County Public Defender's Office badly needs a spell-check.

During his testimony before state Senate Judiciary Committee leaders at the University of Pittsburgh last week, Director Michael Machen had a slide projected next to him showing his office, title, and the topic of his talk, which concerned the low number of blacks on some juries.

Unfortunately, the slide contained five mistakes. It read, "Pennslyvania State Senate Sub Commette on Jury Slection."

Can you find the five errors•

Three are easy. The fourth is that "subcommittee" is not two words.

The fifth mistake• There is no such subcommittee.

CONFIDENTIAL TO UNDECLARED REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE LYNN SWANN: You have yet to say where you stand on any substantive issue. Until that happens, you essentially are running on your celebrity status as a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall-of-Fame wide receiver.

So your refusal to sign the football stickers you were handing out at a recent Republican Committee of Allegheny County event in Forest Hills strikes us a good way of drumming up support for your two main GOP rivals, former Lt. Gov. William Scranton and state Sen. Jeff Piccola of Dauphin County.

Just an observation.

FIRING BLANKS. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette drew its big guns Wednesday for the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh annual quiz. The competition consisted of 36 teams from corporations, universities and social service agencies. Tested was their international IQ on current events, geography and global Pittsburgh.

The P-G's three teams -- count them, three -- included Dan Simpson, a retired U.S. ambassador, veteran editor Reg Henry and Anita Srikameswaran , a physician who is a medical reporter.

The P-G didn't place in the top six. One of its teams missed nearly half the questions it was asked.

Picking up a hard-fought, third place victory was the Trib's team.

Yes, we only had one team because we only needed one team.

MIXED SIGNALS. Visiting coaches at Greensburg Salem's Offutt Field may have lost a potential advantage during football games.

If coaches didn't already know: When they faced the Lions on their $3 million, newly-renovated field, they should have sent a spy into the women's bathroom. It seems that chatter from the home team's locker room came through loud and clear through duct work.

Superintendent Thomas Yarabinetz said the architect for renovations has been asked to come up with a correction plan. School officials claim they received no complaints of salty language during the half-time breaks.

LOST. Recently, the public-safety community in Fayette County honored Jacquelyn Albert, a licensed social worker from Georges Township, for her work establishing the county's 12-year-old critical-incident team for stress debriefing.

But one politico apparently needs a road map to identify the location.

In August, the commissioners passed a proclamation honoring Albert. U.S. Rep. John Murtha and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum also lauded her work. But then there was Fayette's own state Rep. James Shaner , whose office created a certificate honoring Albert for her efforts in "Lackawanna County."

Yep, the county where Scranton is the county seat. Talk about gerrymandering.

Shaner's office blamed the snafu on Democrat underlings in Harrisburg.

TEAMING UP . Hempfield Township Supervisor Kim Ward will take a leading role in another nationally watched race.

Ward has signed on to be Santorum's campaign coordinator in Western Pennsylvania. Santorum's race will be among the most watched in the country next year.

Last year, Ward was President George Bush's western state director and in 2000 she was Santorum's Southwestern Pennsylvania coordinator.

"I said I wasn't going to do another one, but then I really got my start with Rick," Ward said.

Ward, the former Westmoreland GOP chairwoman, also was credited with bringing a Republican majority to the Fayette County commissioners office for the first time in decades with the elections of Joe Hardy and Angela Zimmerlink in 2003.

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