Peter Nickles says deputy mayor will get between Gray, public safety chiefs

Departing D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles appears to have a very literal reading of org charts.

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Peter Nickles appears to have a very literal reading of org charts

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During an appearance on TBD NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt Tuesday morning, Nickles inveighed against Mayor-elect Vince Gray’s decision to bring back the position of deputy mayor for public safety. Why? If there’s a deputy mayor for public safety, he explained, the incoming attorney general, Irv Nathan, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier will need to talk to a bureaucrat instead of the mayor during an emergency.

"These three key officials: fire chief, police chief and attorney general, need to be able to report directly to the mayor," Nickles said. “You need to be able to call the mayor, not the deputy mayor.”

Nickles wasn't worried about Gray's pick for the position, Paul Quander. He said that the structure of the job itself would hinder the relationship between the mayor and the public safety officials.

During Mayor Adrian Fenty’s term, he eliminated the position of deputy mayor for public safety. Of the three Blackberries Fenty kept on his hip, one was a direct line to Lanier. To hear Nickles tell it, this kind of direct communication would be extinct under Gray.

The Gray transition has a different picture of the scenario.

"The deputy mayor is not a supervisor," says transition spokeswoman Doxie McCoy. "The deputy mayor position is to provide a cooperative and collaborative link between the public safety agencies."

McCoy said the key public safety officials would all still report and have access to Gray, and that the deputy mayor would help them coordinate their efforts.

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