April D. Gallop, a Pentagon survivor of Sept. 11, 2001, has become something of a persistent, if not familiar, figure on Capitol Hill. Like other survivors and relatives of the victims of the terrorist attacks, Gallop has lobbied for a full accounting of what happened and for other related issues.
Now she wants to formalize their role. Gallop, who has retired from the Army because of her injuries and is the single mother of Elisha, 3, has established the AEZ Consulting Firm to lobby on 9/11 families' issues as well as those affecting veterans and children.
She might eventually take on independent clients, but 9/11 always comes first.
"Our organization is for activism. It's not just to be a big lobbying company to get a lot of money," she said in an interview yesterday after observing the House Armed Services Committee hearing and joining in a lunch with lawmakers and other 9/11 folks.
AEZ Consulting is still in its organizational phase, Gallop said. "We're trying to make it formal, trying to be professional." There are at least 20 survivors and relatives of victims who have been actively lobbying "and more than 6,000 people . . . in varying degrees of recovery," she said.
If they can raise funding for their efforts, they would be able to bring more survivors and relatives to Capitol Hill to testify at various hearings, Gallop said. "But we're not going to stop if we don't get money."
Gallop was an Army specialist back in 2001, just returned from maternity leave and back at the Pentagon, her 2-month-old son in her arms, when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building, exploding into flames. She is still dealing with painful spinal injuries, and while Elisha has some developmental delays and mild hearing loss, he's walking and running now.
"I don't want this happening to any child. . . . I have my challenges. But I'm trying to take my pain and turn it into activism," Gallop said.
She and the others are waiting to see what legislation develops on the 9/11 commission's recommendations, and then plan to throw themselves into lobbying on behalf of it. Said Gallop, "We're going to be a force to reckon with."
Based in the Heartland
The Heartland Partnership, a Peoria, Ill.-based community council for businesses, has turned to the Holland & Knight law firm here to help prevent the possibility of Peoria and Springfield losing their military facilities in next year's round of base closings.
Peoria has the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard and Springfield is home to the 183rd Fighter Wing.
The two bases are "big parts of these communities" and Peoria and Springfield "want to do all that they can" to keep them, said John Buscher, a public policy adviser on the Holland & Knight team.
The team seems to be particularly well connected: There is former Republican representative Tillie K. Fowler (Fla.), who used to serve on the House Armed Services Committee and is still big on defense issues, and James Lariviere, a former staff member of House Armed Services and a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. Buscher previously was a lobbyist for United Airlines and earlier was an aide to then-Illinois Democratic Sens. Alan J. Dixon and Carol Moseley Braun.
Homework for Better Schools
A coalition of largely liberal-leaning groups yesterday launched a "mobilization" to make public education an election-year issue, at all levels of government.
The big event is Sept. 22, when the coalition hopes that thousands of teachers, parents and community leaders get together at house parties across the country to talk about the issues and organize to meet with lawmakers, register voters and otherwise mobilize to make public education a national priority.
The coalition includes the National Education Association, MoveOn.org, Campaign for America's Future, ACORN, the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute and the NAACP National Voter Fund.
Although some of the groups are critics of President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative and some are supporters of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, members said the mobilization is nonpartisan.
"The success of this mobilization depends on it being issue-based," said Toby Chaudhuri of Campaign for America's Future.
The group will not endorse candidates, he said, but will "pressure officials at every level of government to make education a priority."
Patrick Lehman, previously manager of government relations for Bayer CropScience, has joined the Grocery Manufacturers of America as director of federal affairs. He will focus on food safety, appropriations, the security of the food supply and commodity programs, and other issues.
"We believe his experience and knowledge about the regulatory process from seed to table will bring a new dimension to GMA's work with Congress," GMA chief executive C. Manly Molpus said in a statement.
The American Health Care Association has signed on James B. Smith Jr. as senior vice president for policy and government relations. Smith most recently served as vice president of federal government relations at the Advanced Medical Technology Association and earlier lobbied for the American Medical Association
Mary E. Arnold, most recently vice president of congressional and federal government affairs for AT&T, has moved over to SAP America Inc. to oversee the lobbying efforts and issues management of the business software solutions provider. Earlier, she worked for Lucent Technologies and Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.).