Mayor Gray's Advisers Worry About Off-Track Administration

Week reminded councilman of D.C.'s troubled past

By Tom Sherwood
|  Saturday, Feb 26, 2011  |  Updated 9:54 AM EDT
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Supporters of <a title=D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray say after only two months he needs to get a firmer grasp on his administration." />

Supporters of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray say after only two months he needs to get a firmer grasp on his administration.

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As a week of a controversial hire and two expensive SUVs came to a close, NBC Washington heard concerns from some of Mayor Vince Gray's closest advisers that he must fix his two-month-old administration.

Sulaimon Brown, a minor candidate for mayor in 2010, lost his $110,000-per-year job with the city Thursday amid reports of stalking complaints made in 2007 by the mother of a 13-year-old. Gray dodged reporters for hours. His police security used a decoy car in a garage, and other officers shooed reporters away from Gray's office.

That may have been a relief to Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who took heat earlier in the week for using a luxury SUV leased by the city at almost $2,000 per month -- after rejecting another SUV that's almost as expensive and still part of the city fleet because he didn't like the color of the interior.

Veteran Councilman Jack Evans said the weeklong chaos reminded him too much of the city's troubled past.

"This week has been a very bad week for the District of Columbia image-wise," Evans said on WAMU Friday. "We have been in the news, in the Wall Street Journal, all in an unfavorable light."

These big-dollar controversies come just weeks before Gray has to propose a tough budget with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to city programs expected.

"Clearly, a lot of the work we're doing now is focused on the fiscal year 2012 and the horrific deficit that we have and trying to figure out how we're going to handle it, so we're going to continue to do that," Gray said.

Advisers to Gray said the mayor is losing control of his administration and must right his ship.

Gray said he's trying to look forward.

"We're going to continue to be focused on the important stuff that we're doing," he said.

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