New Council structure announced; Wells joins key committee
Loose Lips just posted the new committee structure for next year's DC Council, chosen by Chairman Vincent Gray. Most of the committees stay the same, but there are some important changes, including a few in the key committee which oversees transportation.
Jim Graham remains chair of the committee, whose name will change from Committee on Public Works and the Environment to Committee on Public Works and Transportation. That's because oversight of the Department of the Environment goes to Mary Cheh, who also gets the Government Operations responsibility formerly held by departing Councilmember Carol Schwartz. Cheh's new portfolio will presumably include the Board of Elections and Ethics, whose lapses during the primary Cheh investigated tenaciously. In turn, Cheh gives up her utility regulation and DCRA portfolio to Muriel Bowser. With Bowser's strength in constituent services, that seems appropriate.
Cheh will also give up her seat on the Public Works committee now that the Department of the Environment is no longer part of it, as
of course will Schwartz will Yvette Alexander. Replacing the two are Phil Mendelson and, most excitingly, Tommy Wells. At the last two committee hearings I attended, on bicycle safety and parking rates, none of the other committee members were present save Chairman Graham, but Wells was. Putting him on the committee makes a lot of sense; he already had staff devoted to these issues even without a seat on the committee. And, of course, Wells has always been a strong ally of everything this blog advocates.
Mendelson is something of a wild card on transportation. He testified in favor of a curb cut, though one that may be appropriate. He voted against the parking fee increase, though he also suggested he'd support broadening performance parking. And he raised questions about a new bike lane-blocking fine, but once he got answers to those questions, praised and voted for the measure. Mendelson co-introduced, and spoke strongly in favor of, closing the parking tax loophole to improve our air quality.
Please chime in with your opinions of Phil Mendelson. My preliminary impressions say that his heart is in the right place, but he's not always up to speed on all the potentially counterintuitive implications of transportation policy, and sometimes he'd rather hold out for the right long-term solution than pass a short-term, politically viable but messy solution. I can certainly understand that sentiment, and look forward to working with Mendelson on these important issues.
The Post is also reporting that Gray will name newly elected Councilmember Michael A. Brown to replace Marion Barry as one of the alternate members of the Metro board. Alternates can't vote at board meetings, but do contribute on Metro board committees.
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