''I didn't— I swear I didn't— get into politics to feather my nest or feather my friends' nests. . . .''
—Texas Governor George W. Bush

Hauling Ash Home
Toxic Waste Comes Back— But to Where?

Thanks to New York City's Trade Waste Commission, Philadelphia has been forced to shell out $50,000 to help foot the bill for the return of 2000 tons of toxic ash its contractors illegally dumped on a Haitian beach over a decade ago.

Cheered on by Greenpeace, the commission told the successor company to the firm that did the dumping to clean up its act if it wanted to haul trash in New York. This resulted in action. In a deal financed by Eastern Environmental Services— the New Jersey­based company whose top executive has ties to the original dumping— as well as Philadelphia and Haiti, a ship is slated to start hauling the ash back to the U.S. this week.

But to where? Nobody wants it. Philadelphia won't touch it. Even garbage-hungry Virginia turned it away. South Carolina was about to say it would bury it, but local environmental protests blocked that.

The federal government could arrange the return, but it won't get involved, insisting the deal is a private matter. Sources close to the negotiations say Clinton officials fear that if it helps Haiti, the government will have to bring home other poisons U.S. corporations have dumped abroad— like mercury shipped from American Cyanamid in New Jersey and Borden Chemicals and Plastics in Louisiana to South Africa, where workers have allegedly been poisoned, and metal smelter dust from Stoller Chemical Corporation in South Carolina, which was reportedly mixed into fertilizer and ditched in Bangladesh.

American Cyanamid says it stopped sending waste to South Africa in 1991, and Borden claims that mercury is recyclable.

Banking on Carolyn
The East Side's Forceful House Insider

With Chuck Schumer in the Senate, the task of providing an interface between Wall Street and Washington in the House falls increasingly to East Side Democrat Carolyn Maloney, who has gained seniority on the House Banking Committee. To be sure, Buffalo's John J. LaFalce, the committee's senior Democrat, will shoulder most of the load. But Maloney is a force to be reckoned with.

Big money is eyeing a Democratic take-back of Congress in 2000, and with Maloney sure to get a subcommittee, insiders want to know where she stands. Whereas Schumer backed the banks all the way, Maloney has been a mixed bag. She wants to keep banks from merging with other businesses, and thinks hedge funds with over $1 billion in investments should be regulated under existing securities laws. She also wants more oversight on the Federal Reserve, whose management practices she's criticized. Still, Maloney gets along with bankers. Her campaign drew more than $100,000 from the finance sector.

Fireman, Save My Butt
Strange, Smoke-Filled Deal

Weirdest alliance on Capitol Hill is between tobacco companies and firefighters' groups, which have joined forces to fight off legislation that would mandate "fire-safe" cigarettes. Worried that such rules might change the nature of their product, the tobacco companies pitched in to back a firefighter campaign aimed at "promotion of smoke detectors among the rural and inner-city poor; fire education for the elderly; and a means for fire educators to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs."

Mena Report Clears Clinton

Clinton scandal buffs were sent reeling last week by a rumor that House Banking Committee chair Jim Leach, the moderate Republican from Iowa, had shut down his investigation on the role of the Mena airstrip in alleged drug running and money laundering while Clinton was governor of Arkansas— activities that Clintonwatchers hoped would shed light on possible links between Clinton and a Dixie Mafia.

Actually, according to committee spokesman David Runkel, Leach is in the process of "wrapping up," and will soon release his report— based in part on Pentagon and CIA inside dope. "Nothing has come to our attention that would involve criminal activities by the then governor of Arkansas," Runkel said.

Research: Bob Frederick

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