When we wrote recently about a number of lawmakers who persistently fell behind on their low rent payments in the Capitol Hill building, we forgot one other state tenant. Sen. Steve Faris occupies an apartment set up years ago by then-Secretary of State Bill McCuen (Faris' former boss) in what's known as the "boiler room," a utility building with a tall smokestack on Capitol grounds west of the Capitol. Faris pays a bargain $200 a month. Until mid-summer, when reporters started sniffing about legislative deadbeats, Faris was a consistent slow pay, with payments 60 days in arrears, this year, in February, March, April, May and June, according to secretary of state records. The secretary of state's office shot down a rumor that the term-limited Faris was trying to work out a lease renewal with outgoing Secretary of State Charlie Daniels so he could hang onto his Capitol-grounds pad when he becomes a Senate employee, as is expected to happen. The current lease expires this month and Daniels' successor will handle future assignments of the space, a spokesman said.
Conveniently, residents of the Second Congressional District will find their new congressman in the same place they found their old one. Rep. Vic Snyder's Little Rock office, in the Prospect Building at 1501 North University Ave., Suite 150, will change tenants in January, when Snyder moves out and Tim Griffin moves in. No word yet on Griffin's Washington address.
Brave new world
It's a good bet that body-scanning X-ray machines — the so-called "digital strip search," which can see hazy gray images of the naked torso through your clothes — are coming soon to an airport near you, but the Transportation Security Administration won't say when they'll land at Little Rock National Airport, citing security concerns. TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said the machines are now in place at nearby airports in St. Louis, Gulfport, Miss., Dallas, New Orleans and Memphis, but said it's TSA policy to not discuss when the machines will be installed elsewhere until a formal announcement is made.
For now, travelers going through the security checkpoint at Little Rock National Airport may be singled out for one of the more thorough hand searches the TSA rolled out nationwide in October, which include TSA agents purposely touching the clothed genital area as part of the search. Koshetz said the more thorough searches — which many travelers, along with pilots and flight attendants unions, have characterized as a "grope" — are always performed by a same-gender officer, and can be performed in an area out of view of the public if the traveler requests it. Koshetz said the more thorough searches were instituted in response to a specific threat that terrorists would seek to "manipulate societal norms to evade detection." When asked if that translates to: "hide a weapon near their crotch, because Americans generally don't like anybody other than their doctor or significant other touching them there," Koshetz wouldn't comment for the record. Koshetz said that travelers may be subjected to the more thorough body searches randomly, because they set off the metal detectors, or — in the case of airports with body scanners — because they opt out of going through the machine.