D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda W. Cropp’s choices for committee leadership assignments have left a bad taste in the mouths of some council members.
The council structure will remain virtually the same, with no changes in chairmanships of the 11 committees. But council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, has publicly aired his frustration with not being tapped to run any committee or subcommittee.
“I don’t think this is a sound plan, and I will not vote for it,” Mr. Fenty said.
Mrs. Cropp said she may ask Mr. Fenty to take a leadership role on some ad hoc committee projects from “time to time” during the next two years.
“For the most part, my committee recommendations on the assignments are final, but there may be some tweaking here and there,” Mrs. Cropp said.
Mr. Fenty said he did not feel that the council could continue to run efficiently without some changes.
There has been discussion in the past few months among council members about changes to the council’s structure.
District government sources close to the issue said there is support for dividing some agencies into two committees to create new chairmanships.
Recent problems with Greater Southeast Community Hospital filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy have led some members to conclude that the health agencies should be removed from the Human Services Committee that will continue to be headed by Sandy Allen, Ward 8 Democrat.
In addition, there was some discussion that the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and the Metropolitan Police Department should have separate committees. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, who also will retain her leadership of the Judiciary Committee, has oversight over the fire and police departments in addition to emergency management, the courts and corrections.
Mr. Fenty said he hopes some changes will be made before the council votes on the plan Jan. 2 after the inauguration ceremonies.
Other members of the council said they were pleased.
“I think the assignments will be accepted by the council,” said John Ralls, spokesman for council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat.
He said Mr. Evans was very interested in joining the committees on education and human services. Mr. Evans will stay on as chairman of the Finance Committee and would like to keep a closer eye on the significant budget problems existing in some of the agencies under the purview of the two panels.
“But Jack has been very active in working with those committees and will continue to do so,” Mr. Ralls said.
The other committee assignments also will remain the same. Council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, will be chairman of the Economic Development Committee. Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, will lead the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation. David Catania will stay on to lead the Public Services Committee, and fellow at-large Republican Carol Schwartz will stay on to lead the Public Works and the Environment Committee.
Democratic council members Jim Graham, Ward 1, and Phil Mendelson, at-large, will lead two subcommittees, Human Rights and Public Interest. Vincent Orange, Ward 5 Democrat, will stay on as chairman of Government Operations.