DC Council Committee Chair Shuffle — Some Thoughts

To date, Council Chair-Elect Kwame Brown has been tight-lipped about any changes to the current DC council committee structure, but we expect to hear more soon as the council nears the end of its 2-year legislative session. And while Brown has been circumspect, other council members have been far more open about their wishes:

n David Catania has said in published reports that he is interested in heading up a newly created education committee. (The previous committee was disbanded by Chairman Gray when he moved the high profile subject to the council’s committee of the whole.) But when word got out that the hard-charging Catania was willing to forgo his perch at the Health Committee to head up education, the teachers union and some community activists made it clear to Brown that they objected to the choice. The latest word is that Catania may be interested in a consolation prize: the committee on economic development, a post Brown will likely vacate when he becomes chairman.

n Yvette Alexander has made it clear she wants to exchange her chairmanship of the committee on aging and community affairs for either the health or the public services and consumer committees.

n Mary Cheh, a favorite of Mayor-Elect Gray, may be in line for the council’s #2 leadership position (chair pro tem) or the committee on finance and revenue, taking aim at the council veteran who now holds both titles: Jack Evans.

n The remaining members are thought to be generally happy where they are, with the exception of Marion Barry, who was stripped of his committee chairmanship after an ethics investigation concluded he improperly used District funds to reward supporters and friends. Barry wants back in and some observers think that Brown will oblige him, either by appointing him to lead an existing committee or by creating a new one. Barry is the only council member without a chairmanship.

All we know for sure is that next year’s committee line-up, which is subject to a full council vote, will almost certainly offer surprises. An even more ambitious option open to Brown would be to scrap some or even all of the existing committees and start over, effectively allowing the incoming chairman to tailor a new line-up of committees to suit individual members’ preferences, interests and strengths. This move would throw an ever-viable wild card into the mix.

Kevin Wrege

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

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