Tuesday, July 10, 2007

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray has decided to postpone a vote scheduled for today on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s choice to be deputy mayor for education, sources close to Mr. Gray said yesterday.

Mr. Gray decided to remove a resolution to confirm Victor A. Reinoso from the agenda of the council’s final legislative session before its summer recess because of lingering concerns over transparency and accusations of plagiarism in Mr. Reinoso’s office.

Mr. Gray could not be reached for comment last night, but he discussed some of his concerns earlier in the day.

“Certainly there have been some concerns surrounding plagiarism and other areas,” said Mr. Gray, a Democrat. “We take the confirmation process very seriously here.”

Mr. Reinoso, a former school board member, earned the ire of some council members for copying portions of the Fenty administration’s schools plan from a plan drafted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system.

Mr. Reinoso accepted responsibility for the plagiarism but refused at his June 27 confirmation hearing to say whether he wrote the copied report, citing legal advice.

Members also have criticized the Fenty team for its secrecy in conducting a search for schools chancellor, and Mr. Gray has expressed concern that the specific responsibilities of Mr. Reinoso’s office are not clearly defined.

“It is a lingering question,” Mr. Gray said. “I just want to fully understand from his perspective what it is that he does.”

The chairman said postponing the vote would not be an attempt to send a message to Mr. Fenty.

After a council hearing yesterday, Mr. Reinoso said he was hopeful his name would be on the council’s agenda and that it “makes sense” that Mr. Fenty’s education appointments would move forward as a team.

Mr. Gray’s decision is unlikely to affect Mr. Reinoso’s job status. Members have until Nov. 22 to take action on the nomination, and the council is scheduled to meet next on Sept. 15.

“Even if he is not on the agenda [today], it easily could come back up in September or October,” Mr. Gray said.

However, council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, yesterday said he plans to send a letter to Mr. Fenty asking the mayor to withdraw Mr. Reinoso’s nomination.

Members are expected to vote today to confirm acting schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and Allen Y. Lew, director of school facilities modernization.

Ten of 13 council members have said they were likely to cast their vote in favor of Mrs. Rhee after her confirmation hearings last week, despite concerns about her lack of experience running a school system.

“The key will be that she have good …people around her,” said Kwame Brown, at-large Democrat.

Mrs. Rhee — a former public schools teacher and head of a New York City nonprofit — also won council votes by meeting individually with members.

David A. Catania, at-large independent, said he met with Mrs. Rhee twice before the hearing and that she earned his support.

Mr. Gray and Mr. Barry, along with Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, said they were still undecided on how they will vote.

Ms. Alexander said on Friday she was not convinced about Mrs. Rhee’s qualifications to run the District’s public schools.

Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said he entered the confirmation hearing last week undecided about Mrs. Rhee and “maybe even leaning slightly against,” but he expects to vote for her today.

“She was very impressive at the hearing,” he said.

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