- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

In June, the D.C. Council sued Mayor Tony Williams in D.C. Superior Court because he refused to fire Inspector General Charles Maddox. In July, the lawyers for the mayor’s office argued in court that the lawsuit raises crucial separation-of-powers questions — specifically that, while it is the council’s prerogative to establish job qualifications, it is the mayor’s prerogative to hire and fire appointees. We concurred, and we also argued another point — that the council’s intention was to oust Mr. Maddox. The council’s lawyers argued to the contrary, even going so far as to tell the judge that “there is no grand conspiracy here.” Fortunately, the judge knew better and ruled accordingly. Unfortunately, the council’s reaction is sour grapes.

On Friday, Judge John Campbell handed a victory to both the council and the mayor. The judge upheld the council’s authority to “create, abolish, or organize any office, agency, department, or instrumentality of the government of the District, and to define the powers, duties, and responsibilities” of any such office. On that aspect, D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp agreed, saying, “The fact that the court did not strike down the qualifications themselves means that the qualifications for the position of IG are warranted and that the council acted within its authority in imposing them.” However, the judge also did the right thing when he struck down provisos of the law that apply to Mr. Maddox, saying the legislature could not dictate executive appointments.

Indeed, the laws passed this spring effectively wrote Mr. Maddox — a former federal prosecutor — out of his job on June 1, because it dictated job requirements that were impossible for him to meet. For example, the new requirements call for the inspector general to hold a law degree and to hold membership for at least seven years in the D.C. Bar. The law school Mr. Maddox attended was not accredited, and he did not joined the D.C. Bar until November. When the mayor did not fire Mr. Maddox, the council decided to sue — and now it threatens to appeal Judge Campbell’s ruling.

Surely, members of the D.C. Council, particularly its members who are lawyers, feign ignorance of this city’s, and this nation’s, tripartite form of government. The council should accept the partial victory for what it is worth, and work with the mayor to find a new inspector general. Stop wasting taxpayer money.

Filing yet another frivolous lawsuit means Mr. Maddox will stay in office. We cannot imagine Mayor Williams firing Mr. Maddox while the mayor prepares to again defend himself in court. And the goal, is it not, is to get Mr. Maddox to step down?

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