DC Mayor-elect Vince Gray heads toward inauguration day feeling good about his personnel moves, a bit worn down from having to wear two hats (Council chairman and virtual mayor-elect) for more than three months, and plainly apprehensive about the budget cuts that may be needed to keep the District’s spending in line with revenues.
His cabinet is mostly complete, though a few high-profile selections – notably schools Chancellor – remain. Judging from our talk with him today on NewsTalk, Gray is most enthusiastic about Allen Lew, his nominee to be City Administrator, and Cathy Lanier, who will remain police chief. Gray (D) described Lew as a “get it done guy” who will advance the new administration’s agenda with dispatch. And he pointed to Lanier’s strong standing with the public, as evidenced in a public opinion poll that was done earlier this year, though he said that he would like to see “some changes” in how the city’s top cop handles her job.
Gray pushed back hard against criticism from the head of the FOP, Kris Baumann, who said earlier this month that the mayor-elect broke a campaign pledge to give rank-and-file officers a “seat at the table” when it came time to decide Lanier’s fate. Listen to this clip:
Gray said he is not ready to announce who he will select as a permanent replacement for Michelle Rhee, praising Henderson but refusing to endorse her, saying the selection process must play itself out.
Gray disclosed that he and Mayor Fenty have had substantive conversations about the post the chairman will inherit on Sunday. He said that Fenty told him transitions are never long enough to do everything a future executive would want done, and he indicated he intends to consult with Fenty and former Mayor Anthony Williams for advice after he is sworn-in. Gray’s communication with Fenty is notable, as it was a lack of dialogue between the two that helped lure Gray into the mayor’s race.
The chairman said his nominee for attorney general, Irv Nathan, will continue the probe of Councilman Tommy Thomas, a Gray ally whose youth sports non-profit, Team Thomas, has drawn the attention of current AG Peter Nickles. Nickles has pressed for information about the money Thomas has raised and how it got spent. He vigorously rejected Nickles’ suggestion that a deputy major for public safety (he has nominated Paul Quander for the post) would interfere with direct communication between Gray and his police and fire chiefs.
Gray’s inaugural address will focus on education and employment issues. Earlier this month he convened a jobs summit, an event that brought together business leaders, educators and others to discuss the skills gap that’s keeping some District residents jobless.
When asked about DC United’s potential move to Baltimore, Gray seemed unfazed by the prospect. He said the budget squeeze makes funding of a new stadium – something the struggling team has identified as a prerequisite for staying – unlikely.
The first two segments of our interview with Chairman Gray re-air today at 4pm, 6pm and 8:30pm on TBD TV. Part 3 is here:
Thursday at 10am: The sports year-in-review
Friday at 10am: The news year-in-review