D.C. NOTES

Not so fast.

Senate communications subcommittee Chairman Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). has asked Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to put Clinton’s nomination of Joel Klein to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division on hold.

Seems that Burns, who’s become more active on telecom matters in recent weeks, believes Klein may be inclined to raise the bar beyond the level set by Congress for regional Bell entry into the long-distance market.

Burns, in a May 15 letter to Lott, said a March 11 speech by Klein caused him concern. “You have suggested that Section 271 gives you `broad swatch’ to urge whatever position the Antitrust Division likes,” said Burns. “Congress, however, gave the Attorney General a role in advising the FCC with respect to public interest issues because of the Department’s antitrust expertise.”

While we’re on the subject, what’s going on with the Senate Commerce Committee. The panel called off a hearing on federal pre-emption/antenna siting last week (owing in part to loud protests by consumer advocates), and now Burns’ subcommittee has postponed this Tuesday’s universal service hearing until June 3. Tentatively.

… From the pages of the Daily News of Los Angeles comes this lead: “As far as parents at Holy Redeemer School in Montrose are concerned, the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles should be bathing their children in the radiance of God, not radiation from cellular phone towers.”

The problem: The archdiocese contracted with Nextel Communications Inc. to site a 70-foot tall antenna on Holy Redeemer School’s playground for $1,200 a month. Parents are concerned that the archdiocese has allowed carriers to erect cell sites at 30 parishes and Catholic schools throughout the area.

Today begins CTIA Wireless Safety Week. Awards will be given for Highway Hero, Crimestopper, Lifesaver and Good Samaritan. While the debate is raging over whether cell phones take lives, it is undisputable phones save lives. Thousands upon thousands of 911 wireless calls go out every month. A woman trapped in a Dakota snow blizzard is rescued via her cell phone. Citizens braving Dakota floods are brought to safety via cell phones. Wireless technology even played a key role in the liberation of hostages in the Japanese Embassy in Peru.

Last, President Clinton joined in honoring the 116 law enforcement officers slain on the job last year. In D.C., three cops have been gunned down in the past three months.

Heaven can wait. S.B. 225, the McCain public-safety bill, can’t.

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