- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2006

D.C. Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty, who ran as an agent of change, is assembling a Cabinet that looks much like that of his predecessor.

Mr. Fenty yesterday reappointed six agency heads to the same positions they held for Mayor Anthony A. Williams. He also named seven other current or recent city employees to senior-level posts.

“I don’t think the problems in D.C. government were related to us having a horrible pool of talent,” he said. “The problems in D.C. government may have been a couple of people who were languishing. We made about five changes in agencies where it was clearly broken. In places you need more follow-through, more attention to detail, more energy, I think my management team and I, working with the citizens, will be able to show that.”

Mr. Fenty, a Democrat who is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday, is expected to announce his choices to fill the remaining Cabinet-level posts today. A senior Fenty administration official said a new fire chief will be among the appointees. The position will be filled on an interim basis and is widely expected to go to somebody within the department.

Mr. Fenty is not expected today to address the future of the city’s emergency medical services, which he promised during his campaign to remove from the city fire department’s control.

Dorothy Brizill, executive director of the D.C. government watchdog group DCWatch, was critical of yesterday’s appointments, which follow Mr. Fenty’s reappointments last week of four other agency heads who served under Mr. Williams, a Democrat.

“It makes you wonder, where is that new blood,” she said. “Where is that new energy?”

Miss Brizill also questioned why nine of the appointments made yesterday are on an interim basis.

“One is forced to wonder, what did the transition [team] do?” she said.

City law mandates that interim employees can serve only six months. Permanent appointees must be confirmed by the D.C. Council.

Mr. Fenty defended the temporary hires, saying they will be held to the same standards as permanent agency heads.

“I think D.C. law allows and anticipates that you will not always have a permanent director in place, so the executive branch of government has the authority and the responsibility to appoint interim directors,” he said. “All of the people will be held accountable, but they will not all be permanent.”

He said some of the interim appointees may be the sole candidate for the permanent job, one of numerous candidates or not be considered to lead the agency on a permanent basis. He promised that all Cabinet positions would be filled on a permanent basis before the six-month period expires.

The salaries for the positions filled yesterday range from the $103,500, which was paid to the director of the Office of Latino Affairs last year, to the $180,000 that was paid to the director of the Department of Health.

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