DMV Daily: Musical Chairs

Several switch jobs on D.C. Council

What can Kwame Brown do for you? If you’re on the D.C. Council, he can give you a sweet new committee to run.

After weeks of speculation, Brown doled out the jobs yesterday. Yvette Alexander gets Public Services and Consumer Affairs; Marion Barry, Aging and Community Affairs; Muriel Bowser, Libraries, Parks and Recreation; Michael Brown, Housing and Workforce Development; David Catania, Health; Mary Cheh, Government Operations and the Environment; Jack Evans, Finance and Revenue; Jim Graham, Human Services; Phil Mendelson, Public Safety and the Judiciary; Harry Thomas Jr., Economic Development, and Tommy Wells, Public Works and Transportation.

Eleven committees, 11 bosses -- with Brown keeping Education for himself. So it’s Everybody Gets a Chair Day -- only Brown’s yet-to-be-selected successor will be without a chair. That new councilmember, to be selected early next month, will probably get seats on the panels for Economic Development, Housing and Workforce Development, Public Services and Consumer Affairs, and Public Works and Transportation.

DCist says Brown “played it safe” by giving Barry “what was considered the least glamorous assignment available, but it means that the penalty time for Barry’s censure is over.” (Barry was steaming over the perceived slight yesterday.) Thomas “gets a huge bump,” and if the embattled Ward 5 member “wants to prove his meddle for a future mayoral run, he won’t have any better chance than this.”

But the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance slammed the Barry pick, noting that “the least desirable committee on the Council... does have jurisdiction over the Office of LGBT Affairs and the Office of Human Rights,” and that while Barry “once had a respectable record on LGBT issues,” he abandoned that stance, joining minister Harry Jackson “in an anti-gay rally” in 2009 and then campaigning against same-sex marriage.

The Wells pick was well-received. Greater Greater Washington calls it “an innovative move” by Brown “to demonstrate that he wants progressive action as opposed to the status quo in the coming year.” Wells “is the Councilmember most interested in bringing modern transportation practices to D.C., including complete streets that balance the needs of drivers, walkers, bikers and transit riders.” The Washington Examiner says Wells will also get Graham’s seat on the Metro board. Graham “came under fire for his leadership as chairman after last year’s deadly train crash.”

Graham was philosophical. “I am fine with this,” he told the Washington Post. Graham was a bit more expansive later in the day, noting that he “came to the council from a background of years in human services, as executive director of the Whitman Walker Clinic,” and that he has “long been involved in issues of youth violence, gang intervention, and homelessness.” Graham said “much has been achieved” during his tenure as head of the Transportation panel.

Elsewhere in the DMV:

* Brown wasn’t the only one handing out jobs just in time for the holidays. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray tapped Hosanna Mahaley to head the Office of the State Superintendent of Education; Rochelle Webb to head the Department of Employment Services; and De’Shawn Wright, a former adviser to reformist Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker to be deputy mayor for education. Gray also asked Office on Aging Executive Director Clarence Brown and Office of Human Rights Director Gustavo Velasquez to stay on.

The Examiner says Wright “is known for school reform work he did in New Jersey. He has also served as a partner with the Newark Charter School Fund, which was successful in gathering outside money to help fund the city’s charter schools,” while Mahaley “is a former classroom teacher who was Arne Duncan’s chief-of-staff when the now federal education chief was the head of Chicago’s school district.” Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman says though Gray and Michelle Rhee, the picks make it “clear that Rhee rubbed off at least a little on Gray.”

* The Post’s Reliable Source says Gray and communications consultant and former Barry staffer Linda Mercado Greene “were very flirty at Tuesday’s D.C. Council meeting.”

* D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was hopeful but realistic about retaining her limited House voting rights under the new Republican majority -- and realism won out. Incoming Speaker John Boehner has decided delegates and resident commissioners will be stripped of the power to vote on certain amendments, as they were during the dozen years of GOP control that ended in 2007. The Post says Norton wrote a letter to Boehner in November, “pleading to keep a privilege that ‘is significant to the American citizens who live in the nation’s capital and pay full federal taxes annually to support our federal government,’” but her “plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears.”

As DCist notes, “Even when the Democrats were in the majority, Norton’s vote was completely symbolic: It could not be the one to break a tie on any piece of legislation. Still, for someone who spends most of her time in Congress working to get voting rights for her constituents, it’s a touchy subject.”

* The Post’s Mike DeBonis reports District Department of Transportation official Scott Kubly is considering running for D.C. Council in an April 26 special election, and Ward 3 Democratic activist Mark Stevens said Wednesday that he is considering entering the race as well. Other likely candidates include Ward 8 Democrats President Jacque Patterson and Afghanistan veteran Adam Clampitt -- as well as Michael A. Brown, who is already on the Council.

In related news, Leo Alexander -- a former mayoral candidate who's made noise about running for Council -- says he has “little faith in D.C.'s black political establishment.” Alexander said today, “For the most part, they have convinced blacks that there's some white conspiracy to take back D.C. Even if that were the case, they couldn't do it without controlling the mayor's office and all of our mayors have been black.”

* The Post reports Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Diane Groomes has been reinstated. She had been suspended with pay after allegedly giving police commanders the answers to an open-book test. Chief Cathy Lanier said Groomes “has been restored to duty and returned to her position.”

* The Examiner says D.C.’s “wealthiest community” -- the neighborhoods between Georgetown and Friendship Heights -- “earns more than three times the household income of the city’s poorest area” across the Anacostia River. New census days show that income gap “has increased 45 percent over the past five years.” The Examiner also says that “Chevy Chase and the tiny Brookeville community in Montgomery County rank as the Washington region’s wealthiest areas, with households earning more than $200,000 a year.” The Falls Church News-Press notes that Falls Church “is officially Number One in the entire US of A. in the categories of median household income, and percentage of the adult population with college and post-graduate degrees.”

* The Post reports Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker will “in place a series of austerity measures -- including a freeze on employee pay, potential reductions in county take-home cars, a review of all county contracts and limits on county credit card use -- to help close” a $77 million budget gap.

* Bread for the City client Patty Anne has some “Hope for the Holidays.”

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

Contact Us