- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 26, 2000

There are 13 members of the D.C. Council, and each should chair a committee. As things now stand, they do not, and this ought to change.

However, Democrats, who are in the majority, do not want Republicans to hold top slots. Those Democrats need to stop squawking. Isn't it enough Republicans are in the minority? The heaviest lifting between now and 2004 will primarily be handled by four committees: finance and revenue, economic development, education and government operations. The chairman of finance and revenue is Jack Evans. The city needs him to stay precisely where he is. Mr. Evans appreciates balanced budgets, tax cuts and, like many a D.C. taxpayer, can't wait to tell the control board, "Thanks for the memories."

The Committee on Economic Development is a big fish overseeing housing, commercial and industrial development, tourism and cultural affairs, banks and revenue bonds, as well as telecommunications and international affairs and its longtime chairman, Charlene Drew Jarvis, was not re-elected. The other panel members are Mr. Evans, Harold Brazil, Kevin Chavous and Vincent Orange.

Mr. Chavous has done much but not all that should be done on education. He orchestrated the restructuring of the school governance reforms, he exposed serious problems with special education, transportation and food services, and he proposed the creation of a new state education agency. In other words, he has unfinished business.

Mr. Orange, who joined the council in 1999, and Mr. Brazil, chairman of the judiciary committee and former chairman of consumer and regulatory affairs, have served the city well. Interestingly, the Council is considering splitting up two large committees, human services and judiciary. Kathy Patterson is the best chairman for human services, and Jim Graham is the obvious choice regarding the health components of that committee.

The other discussions center on separating public safety (including police, emergency preparedness and fire) from judiciary (which would have oversight of the courts sentencing and so forth). Judiciary and Mr. Orange would be a natural pairing. Besides, Mr. Orange wants the judiciary committee, and he should have it.

By the same token, David Catania, who polices the police better than any other Council member in history, deserves the public safety panel. Public safety, like public works and economic development, belongs in the hands of an at-large member who must be mindful of all taxpayers' interests, which is precisely what Mr. Catania is. That leaves Harold Brazil as the senior member of the Committee on Economic Development and an at-large member of the Council.

As for government operations, which oversees the administration of the government, such as the offices of the mayor, manpower and procurement, the wise choice lies in Sharon Ambrose. Carol Schwartz should keep public works, and Sandy Allen should get local and regional affairs, whose chairman will have to worry about redistricting. Freshman Adrian Fenty should get libraries and recreation, and at-large member Phil Mendelson should be chairman of consumer and regulatory affairs (a very important committee as the housing and construction boom continues).

The chairman of the D.C. Council and the Committee of the Whole, Linda Cropp, follows a system similar to that employed by Congress when making committee assignments. She considers seniority and requests, so the assignments should go rather smoothly if each Council member is given their respective due. In other words, 13 members, 13 committees.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide