The D.C. Council’s two-month hiatus from routine legislative work leaves behind a controversial committee reshuffling and the dampening pall of multiple investigations into officials, including council members and the mayor.

During the last legislative hearing, Chairman Kwame Brown reassigned Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) to the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, a post formerly led by Ward 6’s Tommy Wells (D).

Cheh admitted she was shocked by the shift as she prepared herself to finish closing a report concerning pay-to-pay allegations former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown made against Mayor Vincent Gray (D) earlier this year. As chair of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, Cheh led numerous hearings and called witnesses for more insight about nepotism claims and improper salaries set by the administration.

“I was already planning my summer for government operations,” Cheh said. “Now, I have to switch gears.”

For the summer, Cheh has her hands full—she has to refocus for a new committee and work with Brown, who she said has not been cooperative with turning over documents related to his claims against the mayor.

“I asked Kwame Brown to create a special committee to work on this,” she said. “We’re still waiting on Brown.”

According to Cheh’s spokeswoman Janine Carmona, Brown has not complied with the office’s request for documents, he said were copies of receipts and money orders made to him on behalf of Gray’s campaign. Gray has publicly denied Brown’s accusations and knowledge of any underhand payments.

As leader of the transportation committee, Cheh said one of her focuses will be on D.C.’s taxicabs.

“I want to have a roundtable discussion,” she said. “It’s been kind of a messy area.”

She added that issues such as a lack of credit cards in taxis and limitations on fares will be priority. Cheh also said she looks forward to meeting with Terry Bellamy, acting director of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

“We have a have a transportation plan for 2005 that needs to be updated,” she said. “I am going to give a lot of these things an environmental slant.”

Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) will inherit Cheh’s government operations post. Wells, who was puzzled by his removal as chair of transportation, will now head Bowser’s former committee, parks and recreation.

After the D.C. Attorney General’s office released a report on June 6 alleging Democrat Harry Thomas Jr.’s misuse of $300,000 in earmarked grants, the Ward 5 representative resigned as chair of the Committee on Economic Development. Chairman Brown reeled the powerful committee under his watch.

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer