Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Is Obama's Latest Pick, According to Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. says he has a new job -- now we'll have to see what the president-elect says. Meanwhile, is none too kind to its namesake. Perhaps he can register
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. says he has a new job -- now we'll have to see what the president-elect says. Meanwhile, is none too kind to its namesake. Perhaps he can register (By Donna Ward -- Getty Images)
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By Al Kamen
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Funny thing happened on Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.'s way to a top Obama administration job. Seems Carrion, at a speech Friday at Yale University, told students he had landed a plum position, indicating it was to head either the Small Business Administration or a Cabinet department -- Housing and Urban Development, Education, or Transportation.

Carrion is also seen as a candidate to head a White House Office of Urban Policy that President-elect Barack Obama has said he will establish.

"He said he was in consideration for a number of Cabinet positions and that he 'got the call' indicating he was selected," one student told the Yale Daily News. Another said that Carrion, who has been mentioned for the top job at HUD and has talked to transition folks, told people before his speech that he had received a congratulatory call from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- something Clinton's office declined to confirm or deny.

Carrion prefaced his comments by telling the audience they were "off the record," and he did not specify which position he had been chosen for, 10 students told the Daily News. As he soon discovered, of course, his remarks did not stay off the record.

Carrion, 47, a Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, serves as president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Carrion's office was planning yesterday morning to issue a statement about his remarks in New Haven, but it changed course in the afternoon and declined to confirm or deny his reported comments.

And the day got worse for the borough president when some blogs discovered a Web site,, that evidently is not his. The site includes an archive of cartoons featuring Carrion and says, among other things, that Carrion has been "pushed forward as a credible candidate" for Obama's Cabinet "despite having no real accomplishments to hang his hat on." It goes on to attack Carrion's record on housing and economic development in the Bronx.

We'll see whether Carrion makes it to Washington.

And They're Off . . .

All presidents-elect, including the current one, talk about how important it is to have a good transition so the new administration can "hit the ground running." That's because they're going to spend only a short time on the ground before they fly off to already-scheduled conferences around the globe.

For example, here's the diplomatic schedule, just for European events, in the first 10 weeks after inauguration:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has to nuance-check with the new team before meeting with the NATO defense ministers at the Verkunde Security Policy Conference in Munich on Feb. 6-8. Might have to give a major address there.

Then Secretary of State Clinton has to attend the NATO foreign ministers meeting on March 5. This is her big debut in the new job, kind of like landing under fire, which should be no big deal for her, but she needs to get fully settled at Foggy Bottom before taking off. She was checking out her new digs yesterday with incumbent Condoleezza Rice and going to Rice's apartment in the Watergate for dinner.

Then it's all eyes on President Obama when he heads off in early April, first to a summit in London to talk about the financial crisis and then to a NATO summit. The NATO gathering will be his big chance to get the allies to agree to sending more troops to Afghanistan, something he mentioned last time he was over there. (It would be a bit generous to describe the Euro reaction to that as "lukewarm.")

More on the Green Scene

The game of musical chairs continues as Obama works to assemble his slate of environmental nominees for the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Energy and the Interior.

New Jersey enviro official Lisa Jackson appears to be closing in on the EPA slot, so buzz over the weekend centered on Interior, with sources saying Obama may be weighing some dark-horse alternatives to the longtime front-runners, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). Grijalva faced some hiccups in recent days and fell off the shortlist, said a source close to the transition.

Thompson, meanwhile, has been hit by a barrage of environmentalist attacks in recent days for his ties to industry groups and his love of hunting.

Sources said some new names are popping up. One is Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Gover, 53, is a former law professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and was assistant secretary for Indian affairs at Interior during the Clinton administration. He took over at the Smithsonian museum last year in the wake of a scandal involving the museum's founding director, W. Richard West Jr.

A member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Gover could become the first Native American nominated to be a Cabinet secretary, and the potential to make history could prove irresistible for Obama. But Gover's spokeswoman, Eileen Maxwell, said he has not "heard anything from the transition, nor does Kevin expect to."

The other sticking point, we were told, is whether to create an office of environment/climate czar -- along the lines of the National Security Council or the National Economic Council -- which would likely be headed by former Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner. Some folks are said to favor bulking up the less-muscular Council on Environmental Quality instead.

The Application's in the Mail . . .

Seems the odds of landing a job in the Obama administration are greater than getting into Harvard. More than 300,000 people submitted applications through, hoping for one of just over 3,000 political appointments. Applications have stabilized since the post-election surge, a transition source said.

More than 50 transition staffers are reviewing the applications, which are housed in a database that allows officials to search applicants by experience, expertise and qualifications, the source said.

If you've applied but are getting antsy because nothing's happened, don't write to the transition office downtown to see what's going on. They don't receive mail there. Everything goes to a postal facility on V Street NE and then to New Jersey to be irradiated and then back to V Street. So they get delivered, but about two or three days late, and might show up a little crispy.

Jefferson Frozen Out Once Again

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) appears to be the first out of the box with an end-of-the-year 10-best list. CREW's list is the Most Embarrassing Re-Elected Members of Congress for 2008. They would have had 10 members on the list, but our favorite, Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson (D-La.), who's been indicted on charges of bribery and money laundering (and putting $90,000 in his freezer), lost his seat Saturday to a Republican challenger.

Those who made the grade include the wonderful Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.), honored in part for having accused Obama of having anti-American views, and Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who, CREW maintains, misused earmarks. But we most admire him for insulting his own constituents by saying, "Western Pennsylvania is a racist area."

With Philip Rucker

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