Council committee approves District CFO's reappointment

Local,DC,Liz Farmer

The District's 71-year-old chief financial officer got one step closer to keeping his job for another five years after a city council committee on Friday approved his reappointment by a 4-1 vote.

The lone dissent on the Council Committee on Finance and Revenue was at-large Councilman David Catania, a fiery critic of Natwar Gandhi, who has managed city finances for 12 years.

After the vote, Catania issued a press release true to form, calling the CFO's reappointment a "consequence of inertia and complacency."

"For all that we spend on this office, we get repeated incidents of theft, waste, and an inability to collect all of the taxes we are owed," Catania stated. "The city would have been far better served with a nationwide search that sought out and brought in the best talent the country has to offer."

In Gandhi's tenure, the federally run Financial Control Board released its grip on city finances, the District has had a balanced budget and the city's credit rating has soared. But in recent months, members of council in addition to Catania have called into question Gandhi's conservative budget estimates.

The last five years of Gandhi's service have also seen setbacks. In 2007, investigators uncovered a tax office scam led by employee Harriette Walters that robbed the city of nearly $50 million. Gandhi is also being sued by former aide Eric Payne for allegedly firing him because he blew the whistle on favoritism in the lottery contracting process.

The full council is expected to take up the reappointment at its July 10 legislative meeting.

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