Bill to Approve All Deputy Mayors Delayed

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An emergency bill that would compel Mayor Vincent Gray (D) to approve all deputy mayors has been delayed. The bill, sponsored by Councilmen Jim Graham and Marion Barry, would be the first legislation proposed by the council the mayor publicly opposes.

Gray, a former council chairman, said the Confirmation Act requires confirmation of agency directors and personnel who are responsible for “subordinate agencies” or who administer programs.

“Neither the deputy mayors of Health and Human Services and Public Safety and Justice is currently administering programs or heading subordinate agencies, “Gray told the AFRO. “Also, these are offices within the Executive Office of the Mayor and have not been statutorily created in law.”

Deputy mayor positions for economic and education development are required by law to be approved. But two additional deputy mayor positions Gray speaks of were created under former Mayor Anthony Williams, those two positions legally do not require approval from the Council. However, for “greater transparency and accountability,” Barry believes those posts should be Council-approved.

“During the councilmember’s tenure as mayor, he worked to create the deputy mayor positions and the council confirmation process for these positions,” said Chan DuRant, Barry’s legislative counsel. “[Barry] believes that all deputy mayor positions should be confirmed, as originally intended under his establishment of these positions.”

Gray’s political showdown with the council has been entangled with quid pro quo allegations and tax hike proposals in the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget that Council Chairman Kwame Brown said he will fight. In a recent executive practice hearing led by Councilmember Mary Cheh, Graham said that Rochelle Webb, Gray’s former director of Employment Services, was fired in fear that she would not be approved by the Council. Gray has served as mayor for nearly four months.

The Deputy Mayor Confirmation Emergency Amendment of 2011 will be reintroduced May 3, Gray said. The bill will require Gray to send Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Paul Quander before the Council for approval.

“I look forward to working with [Graham and Barry] in the coming days on this issue,” Gray said.