It's the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, also known as the Beast That Would Not Die. Legislation was approved last year to abolish the commission, originally set up to oversee U.S. Information Agency programs, when USIA merges with the State Department Oct. 1.

In recent years, the seven-member commission has been a place to appoint pols and bigwigs to produce an occasional unread report. But the members, though unpaid, are most unhappy about being cut loose from their titles.

Commission chairman Harold C. Pachios, a former Kennedy and Johnson administration aide and former head of the Maine Democratic Party, and former chairman Lewis Manilow, a Chicago-area real estate investor and major Democratic donor, are leading the battle against abolition of the commission.

Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) inserted language in the House version of the State Department authorization bill to maintain the commission, which has a staff of four and budget of about $450,000.

Manilow has given about $14,000 in recent years to the moderate New Democrat Network, co-chaired by Roemer. But Roemer's office says his view is unrelated to any help from Manilow. "He's long been interested in this," a Roemer aide said, noting the congressman has a doctorate in international relations.

In negotiations with the Senate, the House side has proposed a 50 percent budget cut and sunsetting the commission in two years. Senate folks say maybe an extension, but no staff and no budget, just some back-up help from State Department employees and only with a written promise of no lobbying from commissioners to stay alive postsunset.

Commission opponents say with USIA disappearing, it's logically time for the oversight group to do likewise. Roemer and prior chairmen argue, apparently with straight faces, that "a citizens' board which represents the public interest . . . is needed more now than ever."


Hitting 65 on Vermont Avenue

Talk about a block party. The Export-Import Bank--barely functioning without a full quorum--nonetheless celebrated its 65th anniversary yesterday afternoon with an outdoor bash featuring top administration brass, a band and food.

But the party snarled traffic for blocks in the downtown area.

For $19, the bank obtained a city permit and police closed off Vermont Avenue between H and I streets, primary traffic routes now that Pennsylvania Avenue has been barricaded.

Although the party only ran from 11:45 a.m. until 2 p.m. yesterday, the police closed the block at 6 p.m. Wednesday and were to reopen it and adjacent sidewalks at 6 p.m. last night, which would make the usual rush-hour mess even messier.

But after our inquiry, the reopening was moved to 3:30 p.m. yesterday.

Bank spokesman Kenneth Murphy noted the Veterans Affairs Department across Vermont Avenue from the bank had held three similar block parties in the past.

Magnetic Football Field

Navy Secretary Richard Danzig paid an official visit to Florida State University this month to inspect a multimillion-dollar lab that receives Navy research grant money. The invitation from FSU generously included seats to watch the nation's No. 1 ranked college team, the Seminoles, play Georgia Tech.

Danzig flew down Sept. 11 in his C-20 Navy jet, accompanied by Defense Undersecretary Jacques Gansler and the Navy's research chief, Adm. Paul G. Gaffney II.

The group arrived at the Tallahassee airport about 5:20 p.m., visited the university's lab and got to the stadium by 6:30. The game started at 8 p.m. and the Pentagon team was back at Andrews by 1 a.m. Sunday.

Danzig's spokesman said the trip was "appropriate" because the university president invited Danzig to see the lab and because the university sponsored a "U.S. Navy Day" celebration.

The trip was not about football, the spokesman said. Danzig--a Yale Law School grad who clerked for football great Justice Byron R. White--"doesn't like football. . . . He would rather engage in issues of world security," the spokesman said.

The Meet Track

Things seemed to go well enough yesterday at a meeting between Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, U.N. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke and Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in New York.

Holbrooke then arranged his own follow-up meeting with Tang later in the day to discuss important issues. The State Department, getting wind of the second meeting, immediately dispatched Susan Shirk, deputy assistant secretary for China, to New York to baby-sit.

The perpetual-motion Holbrooke is looking more and more suited for a key part of his new job--nonstop meetings.

Former Yugoslav POWs Leaving Army

The Pentagon has accepted the resignations of Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Stone and Spc. Steven M. Gonzalez, who decided they wanted out of the Army after spending about a month as prisoners of the Serbs last spring. A third former prisoner, Staff Sgt. Andrew A. Ramirez, is finishing the last year of his hitch near family in Los Angeles.