- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has recommended that one of his highest-ranking appointees lead the Anacostia riverfront revitalization for $273,000 in annual salary and benefits.

Andrew Altman, who earned $124,843 last year as the director of the D.C. Office of Planning, would make $195,000 a year and as much as $78,000 in annual benefits and bonuses as chief executive officer of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp.

The corporation was created under recent legislation to establish an independent, D.C.-chartered entity to lead a 25-year plan to spark $8 billion in development along the Anacostia River. Mr. Williams sent the proposed compensation package to the council Nov. 10.

The project would include parks, housing, and retail and commercial ventures. The corporation is also charged with leading efforts to clean up the river.

D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said at a council hearing yesterday he supports the nomination of Mr. Altman but wants to compare his compensation package with those in other jurisdictions.

“It’s always a good idea to look at where we are with these salaries,” he said.

Mr. Altman said the salary, benefits and bonus package is comparable to that of the chairman of the National Capital Revitalization Corporation, a public-private entity leading efforts to redevelop the District.

“There’s nothing extraordinary in there,” he said.

D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, chairman of the council’s Committee on Economic Development, said last week the compensation package is appropriate.

Mr. Brazil, at-large Democrat, said Mr. Altman’s success in the city’s planning department makes him a good candidate for high-paying jobs in the private sector.

“You want competent people in charge of development,” he said. “I don’t think the money is out of line. He’s an attractive candidate for positions around the country. That’s the way the game is. You cannot get quality on the cheap.”

Mr. Altman was hired in 1999 to lead the city’s planning department after serving in the same capacity in Oakland, Calif. He also has worked as a special assistant to former Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley.

Mr. Fenty said Mr. Altman has “drawn acclaim from people on all sides of the economic development spectrum.”

Candidates for the corporation’s board of directors also faced questions about their qualifications yesterday and at a Nov. 17 hearing before the council’s Committee on Economic Development.

Among those questioned were Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis who moved to the District about three years ago. He was appointed by President Bush as chairman of the Corporation of National and Community Service’s board of directors.

Mr. Altman said Mr. Goldsmith would be a good candidate for a spot on the board of directors because of his political connections in the federal government and that he would be “opening doors at the highest levels.”

However, at least one question has surfaced about his qualifications.

Mr. Goldsmith said during the Nov. 17 meeting that he lives in the District but keeps a residence in Indiana, where he votes.

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, has called for a legal opinion by city lawyers on whether Mr. Goldsmith can serve on the board because a provision in the legislation that created the waterfront corporation states board members must maintain a “primary residence” in the District.

“I would think we would want an inquiry as to what the meaning of primary residence would be,” Mr. Graham said.

Mitchell Schear, another candidate for the board of directors, also faced some questions at the November hearing.

Mr. Graham asked Mr. Schear, president of Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty, about his personal and corporate financial interests in real estate and development projects along the Anacostia River.

Mr. Schear said he had indirect financial interests in plans to redevelop D.C.’s Southwest Waterside Mall and interests in land on South Capitol Street along the Anacostia River.

“If my business had any interest whatsoever, I would absolutely be forced to recuse myself,” he said.

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