DC Examiner: Mayor Notches Wins in Council Votes This Week

Gray wins big, often in council

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The D.C. Council voted against a bill that would have forced the Gray administration and the police union to find a solution to the city’s dwindling police department.

The 8-4 vote Tuesday indefinitely tabled a bill creating a commission composed of appointees from Mayor Vincent Gray and the union to study recruitment and retention in the city’s police department. The vote followed an intense debate as several council members fell in line with Gray’s opposition to the bill proposed by at-large Councilman David Catania.

It was one of three key wins for Gray during Tuesday’s council meeting, showing that despite a series of scandals, Gray still carries weight with the council he once led. Tuesday’s victories might be a sign Gray can push his $5.5 billion budget proposal intact through the council, including his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthy.

Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas led the charge against Catania’s bill.

"We all support making sure the police department has enough resources in the street," Thomas said. "But we should let the [police chief] run and manage the department."

Gray sent a letter to the council urging members not to vote for the measure and two others scheduled to be introduced by Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham on Tuesday. One of Graham’s bills would have required District law enforcement officials to release pictures of youth who escape from detention centers, and the other would require council approval for all deputy mayors.

But Graham pulled both from consideration. He said the youth bill needs more "refinement." He plans to add the council oversight of deputy mayors bill as an amendment to the budget where he’ll only need seven votes to get it passed and not the nine needed for an emergency bill.

In his opposition to Catania’s police commission bill, Gray wrote a tight city budget, not lack of interest in working for the D.C. police department, is behind the shrinking police force. The city has about 3,880 sworn police officers. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has said there will be "trouble" if it dips below 3,800, which is likely to happen this summer.

The commission would be "a distraction from the real problem," said at-large Councilman Phil Mendelson, echoing the mayor’s concerns about the bill. "We need to find the money in order to maintain our police force."

fklopott

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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