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December 20, 2010

Vincent Gray’s First Broken Campaign Promise

Vincent_c_grayMayor-Elect Vince Gray broke his first campaign promise last week; or at least the first one he broke to the LGBT community. In his GLAA candidate questionnaire, Vincent Gray responded to the question on LGBT inclusion on the search process for the police and fire chiefs:

10. Will you include representatives of the LGBT community in the search process when you appoint a new Police Chief and a new Fire/EMS Chief?

Yes, I understand the history and concerns of the LGBT community in regard to its relationship with MPD and Fire/EMS and will include their input in my appointment of the leadership for these agencies.

On Thursday, December 16, 2010 Mayor-Elect Gray announced nominees for the public safety offices.

I’ve asked Chief of Police Cathy Lanier to continue to serve in that role after four very successful years as the head of the Metropolitan Police Department. I share the public’s great confidence in Chief Lanier and am excited to work with her in implementing an anti-crime strategy that involves community policing, education, even-handed enforcement and arrests, social services, and certainty of punishment.

... And finally, I’m very excited to welcome Kenneth B. Ellerbe back to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department as its new chief. Ellerbe served for more than 27 years with D.C. FEMS, rising to the rank of Deputy Chief before taking over the Sarasota County Fire and Emergency Services Department in Florida in 2009.

The key point is that Mr. Gray did not invite anyone from the LGBT community in the search process. It isn’t clear that he checked with anyone outside of his transition team’s inner circle. Arguably, Chief Lanier is not “new” but that’s really being Clintonesque.

Chief Lanier essentially disbanded the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) at a time when anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise. The true value of the GLLU was community involvement. There was a time when the GLLU would visit community groups, bars, and social events just to introduce themselves and say hello. That was a time when the community started to trust the police. Lanier squandered that good will. I don’t recall the last time that I saw someone from the GLLU at any event. I did see them at a couple of the Pride events where they were not talking to anyone in the community. It was quite a waste of an opportunity. Unlike Chief Ramsey, Chief Lanier does not meet with us regularly, and would only do so if she had no other choice. It would be nice to have a police chief that treated us like a welcome part of the community. Mayor-Elect Gray says that she is an advocate of community policing. My experience is that she opposes that policy.

I don’t know Chief Ellerbe. I certainly wish him well. I hope that he will be smart and engage the community as a regular practice. It will be to his benefit.

Mr. Gray also named a new Attorney General. The little I know of him does help Mr. Gray fulfill another campaign promise in his GLAA questionnaire, number 15.

…I will appoint an Attorney General that understands the role and respects the independence of the office. The Fenty administration has blurred the legally defined boundaries of the roles of the Mayor’s General Counsel and the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Until the Attorney General position is an elected position, I am committed to appointing an Attorney General that understands the role and respects the independence of the office.

Mr. Gray’s choice for Attorney General is Irvin B. Nathan, who we are assured, understands that he will represent the citizens of D.C. and not just the Mayor. That will be a welcome change, and not a minor issue. It is really a minimum qualification for Attorney General, so of course I hope for more.

I’ve nominated Irvin B. Nathan to serve as the Attorney General of the District of Columbia after extensive service on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Justice Department. Nathan will join me in taking politics out of the office of the attorney general and ensuring that public safety decisions are not clouded by political motives.

I certainly hope that these nominees will work out well for the District.



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