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Making Brown-Waite’s Office Better Than Ever

The drawer wouldn’t budge. Justin Grabelle pulled and jiggled, but the sliding mechanism held fast, leaving the contents inside painfully inaccessible. He felt around the edges of the reception desk where the drawer was located. Lo! A button! Thinking it was the release mechanism for the drawer, Grabelle pushed hard.

Nothing happened.

Grabelle was boggled. As the new legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), he was eager to satisfy his boss’s demands — and those demands included getting inside that drawer. They did not include, as it turns out, calling the Capitol Police to Brown-Waite’s office for no apparent reason. [IMGCAP(1)]

Which is exactly what happened approximately five minutes after Grabelle pushed the button.

“It was pretty embarrassing,” said Grabelle, a Highland Park, N.J., native who is assisting Brown-Waite with defense, foreign affairs, appropriations and energy issues, among other duties. He worked as the Representative’s intern two years ago and was her campaign manager in Florida during the previous election cycle.

During the campaign, Grabelle lived in Weeki Wachee, Fla., known as the only city of live mermaids. [IMGCAP(2)]

Communications Director Charlie Keller informs Hill Climbers that Weeki Wachee recently has been named the deepest fresh-water spring in the United States, at 408 feet.

Alternately, Grabelle would very much like to be former President Teddy Roosevelt in the presidential race at the Nationals baseball games.


“I like his glasses,” he said. He also likes soccer and soda.

Grabelle, 25, graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics in 2004, and from James Madison University in 2006 with a master’s degree in public administration, concentrating in administrative health systems.

Another new staffer for Brown-Waite, Courtney Cannon, likes the movies “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Napoleon Dynamite.” She hopes to be dynamite at her new position as scheduler for Brown-Waite, taking on the responsibilities of coordinating the Representative’s calendar and managing her office.

A former intern for Florida Republican Reps. Tom Feeney and Adam Putnam, she also assisted with the financial management of 15 Congressional offices.

Cannon, 27, is excited to work for a Florida Member whose district she grew up in.

A 2003 graduate of Florida Southern College with a degree in public relations and advertising, Cannon eventually hopes to work with NASA, perhaps through legislative affairs work.

Tad Bardenwerper, on the other hand, is unsure of his future goals. But he does know the right way to use “servitude” in a sentence.

“This is an enjoyable form of servitude,” Bardenwerper said, referring to his new job as legislative correspondent in Brown-Waite’s office. “I don’t want to get fired.”

Bardenwerper, 25, pitched for the Big Reds baseball team at Cornell University, where he earned a degree in history in 2005. After that he taught black history to high school students in North Carolina.

Hill Climbers asked Bardenwerper the following random question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

“They don’t have maps,” he responded.

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