Gray set to announce hundreds of picks for city boards

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Photo - Mayor gray speaks at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in Freedom Plaza hosted by Serve D.C., Washington D.C., Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Mayor gray speaks at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in Freedom Plaza hosted by Serve D.C., Washington D.C., Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's administration will roll out his picks for approximately 200 openings on city boards and commissions this week, in a move that will help clear an enormous backlog and allow 16 boards to have functioning majorities so they can conduct business.

The selections will fill vacancies throughout the District government, including spots on oversight commissions, licensing boards and advisory councils.

Gray, who inherited hundreds of openings when he became mayor in January 2011, has struggled to fill seats on the panels. A Washington Examiner analysis in March 2012 showed there were 729 vacancies and 65 boards that weren't functioning at all or were operating with members whose terms had expired.

"It was a very deep hole that we had to dig out," mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said.

The number of nonoperational boards has since shrunk to 29, officials said, and is set to fall to 13 after the new round of nominations.

"During the downtime that we've had while the council has been on recess, we've gone through the vacancies and worked very diligently to address some of the quorum problems," Ribeiro said. "Some of these boards haven't had quorums in years."

In one instance, a city official said, Gray will be filling an entirely vacant board -- the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Commission -- that was created by law in 2008 and never staffed by former Mayor Adrian Fenty or Gray.

At the time the D.C. Council was considering legislation to create the panel, a police commander told lawmakers it would develop "critical" ideas to deter vehicle theft.

Earlier this summer, the administration said it was conducting an analysis of the scores of boards to consider eliminating any panels that "really don't serve any purpose."

Ribeiro said city officials were in the closing stages of their review, and the findings will be announced soon.

Although some of Gray's nominations will not require legislative approval, the D.C. Council still stands to receive dozens of appointments as it returns from its lengthy summer recess.

Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans applauded Gray for his plans to name his picks for city panels.

"I know it was a lot of work," Evans said. "I think it's really great that the mayor has gotten this done, and hopefully we'll be able to stay up with it now and not fall behind."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner