The Baltimore County public library system.A call...

SHAME ON

November 06, 1993

SHAME ON the Baltimore County public library system.

A call to the information desk at the Towson central branch revealed that the system carries nary a copy -- none, zilch, nada -- of "A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation & Resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew," Richard M. Cohen and Jules Witcover's definitive account of Mr. Agnew's downfall.

This shortcoming of the county system is especially egregious because Mr. Agnew started his political career in Towson, first as a zoning board officer and later as the county executive.

Copies of the book can be found in the library systems of Anne Arundel and Harford counties and at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. Those institutions can make it available to Baltimore County library users through inter-library loan.

Still, we want to know: Why doesn't Baltimore County system have the book? Are library officials merely guilty of an oversight? Or is the legacy of Mr. Agnew still so embarrassing that they prefer not to carry "A Heartbeat Away"?

Published in 1974 by Viking, the book is apparently out of print. That doesn't mean copies of it can't be unearthed. County library chief Charles Robinson ought to dig up a copy or two for his system. Arise, students of local history, and demand that the Towson library correct this unacceptable omission.

* * *

NEARLY five months after the White House travel office scandal, the Clinton folks still haven't figured out how to get it right.

There is still no travel office head. And the new-and-improved billing methods being used are so bizarre that some White House correspondents haven't gotten any travel bills since July. Meanwhile, the four major TV networks covering the White House refuse to pay their bills for the president's summer trip to Asia because the numbers were astronomical -- far higher than in the past. Some correspondents were even charged for part of the trip they didn't take.

Nothing is itemized any longer. And the bills don't include ground transportation and communications charges any longer, either.

The original travel office fiasco could be chalked up to inexperience, nepotism and greed by some Friends of Bill. This time around, the reason seems to be incompetence.

* * *

IT MAY BE a personal sacrifice to work in the White House, but for many it is hardly a financial sacrifice. White House pay in the Clinton administration is awfully generous. Forty-five of the staffers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are taking home annual salaries of at least $100,000. That's not just a working wage, that is a very high-priced wage. These professed policy wonks are bringing home paychecks most Americans only dream about.

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