- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Within hours of his victory in the general election Tuesday, D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray announced the key players on his transition team and said the White House had reached out to schedule a lunch date.

The team’s various recommendations will “serve as the basis for designing the fundamental objectives of my administration,” Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray added he “will be reaching out Republicans,” whose takeover of the House will give them a bigger role in overseeing D.C. government. He added that President Obama has invited “me to lunch on December 1.”

A mix of familiar and new faces, the Gray transition team includes two team leaders who are involved with Teach for America, where former schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s began her work, and several others who either worked for or under the financial control board, which had to right most of the city’s financial and mismanagement wrongs beginning in the mid-1990s.

Connie Newman was the first obvious Republican on the panel. Appointed by President George H.W. Bush to run the Office of Personnel Management, Mrs. Newman also was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the control board, where she held the vice chairman’s post until the board dissolved in 2001.

Mrs. Newman was deeply involved in the city’s education reform and fiscal matters, two pressing concerns of D.C. voters.

Mr. Gray has to move quickly on both issues, which are linchpins in his framework of the “One City” campaign platform, a Gray supporter said after the press conference.

Faces unfamiliar to city hall bureaucrats include Peter Edelman, who helped to shape welfare reform in the Clinton administration before abruptly resigning, and Maria Gomez, a public-health nurse who founded Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, a program touted by first lady Michelle Obama. The two will lead health and human services efforts.

Another newbie is Karl Racine, managing partner of the Venable LLC law firm, who will co-lead legal and public safety plans. There are several issues on Mr. Racine’s plate, including homeland security and emergency preparedness, and appointments for police, fire and emergency medical services. His duties will be shared with former D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti. The two will look ahead to creating an elected attorney general post, a ballot question that voters overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday.

Technology consultant Alex Chi, who is active in the business and Chinese-American communities and will assume the leadership of the One City platform.

On the education front, Michael Lomax, a cradle-to-college proponent and president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, and Katherine Bradley, president of the health-education-and-welfare centered CityBridge Foundation, will be expected to carry on school reform and back Mr. Gray’s support for charter schools.

Both Ms. Bradley and Mr. Lomax serve at Teach for America, where Ms. Rhee’s first classroom assignment was in Baltimore and where interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson served as recruiter and admissions director. Their undertakings include special-education reform, a top Gray priority, building on public-private partnerships and structuring a birth-to-college/work force continuum.

As for the city’s dire financial straits, Mr. Gray said he and his council colleagues will map out a plan before the Jan. 2 inaugurations to solve the city’s current deficit of $175 million and any other budget problems on the immediate horizon. That’s the short-term goal.

Longer-term recommendations will be considered by other familiar players, including former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who served as chief financial officer during the first few years of the control board; and Alice Rivlin, whose D.C. research at the Brookings Institution has long been a guidepost for city hall and Capitol Hill.

The transition team “consists of some of the most esteemed political, business and community leaders that the District of Columbia has to offer,” said Mr. Gray. Each brings a highly regarded expertise forged from years of public service and a record of developing broad-reaching strategies for reform and growth.”

The team will “hit the ground running,” he said.

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