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Eye Opener: Jan. 2, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Happy Friday!

Eye Opener

Imagine spending years trying to keep certain political and ideological rivals out of the federal government, only to have them show up as you head out the door. Well, the presence of some Obama transition review team members has brought pause to some conservatives who "fear that some of these Obama transition advisers are too far left on the political spectrum and are a sign of radical policies to come," reports The Post's Carol D. Leonnig.

As conservative Roger Clegg said, "The transition team as described to me was made up of nothing but people on the far left. Though Obama is more moderate, that makes you wonder what kind of advice the president is given, and what range of choices he'll be given when it comes time to make appointments."

More: "Some government experts argue that in this particular transition, a wider-than-usual ideological gap separates the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama team and that both sides are likely to view the other as extreme."

"'The incoming Bush people were all about stopping regulation. The Obama people will do their best to accelerate regulation that they think protects the environment, workers, airline safety, et cetera,' said Paul Light, a New York University professor of government who has served as a consultant on the transition to The Washington Post. 'That's not barbarians at the gate. It's a difference of philosophy.'"

Meanwhile, the number of business-related settlements coming out of the Justice Department has "lawyers and interest groups to assert that companies are seeking more favorable terms before the new administration arrives," writes The Post's Carrie Johnson. "The climate for business settlements could grow more harsh when Obama appointees seize the reins at the Justice Department, corporate lawyers say. They point to statements by Attorney General-designate Eric H. Holder Jr., who told an audience last month that he would expand the focus of federal prosecutors into corporate suites."

"A review of 15 agreements involving corporations since early November suggests that much of the alleged misconduct dates back five years or more, provoking questions about why the cases took so long to mature and why resolutions are coming with only weeks left in President Bush's term.

"'What they obviously are trying to do is take advantage of an administration that's deemed to be more friendly to business,' said Cono R. Namorato, a Washington defense lawyer who ran the Internal Revenue Service's office of professional responsibility earlier in the Bush administration. 'I know of no tax reason for doing it now.'"

In other news...

Access to Statue of Liberty: Proponents of granting tourists full access to Lady Liberty -- who right now can only make it as high as the statue's pedestal -- are hopeful the statue will reopen completely during the Obama administration. They are most hopeful since Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), the Senate sponsor of a bill to reopen the statue, is set to become the next interior secretary. "Reopening the crown would probably require changes," reports The Post's Keith Richburg. "The Park Service, in response to demands from Weiner's House subcommittee in 2007, commissioned a private firm to assess whether there is a way to reopen the statue's crown to the public while meeting safety requirements. The final report is due in April."

Logging in Oregon: "The Interior Department announced a controversial decision late Wednesday to double the rate of logging on 2.6 million acres of federally owned forests in southwestern Oregon," The New York Times reported earlier this week. "In doing so, it brushed aside the objections of the governor and two federal agencies charged with guarding the quality of the area’s water and the health of the fish that depend on it."

Napolitano Likes Security Technology: USA Today's Thomas Frank (via FederalTimes.com) finds that the homeland security-designate "has strongly advocated using advanced security technology as a law enforcement tool, drawing praise from police and raising concern among civil liberties groups that warn about privacy invasion." Among other things, she has pushed state police to use cameras to scan license plates of moving cars to find stolen vehicles or ones linked to a criminal suspect; promoted “face-identification” technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people; signed a bill making Arizona collect and store DNA samples of people accused but not convicted of certain crimes, including murder, burglary, sexual assault and prostitution.

Key Link: GovExec.com's compilation of key federal management jobs yet to be filled. Bookmark it and keep an Eye on it.

This Day in History: On this date in 1900, Secretary of State John Hay announced the Open Door Policy to prompt trade with China. Oh, and in 1965 the Jets signed Joe Namath for a reported $400,000 (you're welcome, Jim Brady). More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 2, 2009; 7:53 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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