Greater Greater Washington

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Gabe Klein leaving DDOT

Gabe Klein has announced that he will not be staying at DDOT. Linda Argo is also out at DCRA, and Bryan Sivak at OCTO. However, a number of other Fenty cabinet officials did not get letters asking them to leave. We'll have more analysis later.

Also, in unrelated personnel news, DCRA's Mike Rupert, the first great Tweeter in the DC government, got a new job and will be leaving public service.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Time to move.

by Annoyed on Dec 8, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

Sad news, I can't think of anyone who would be better at moving DC towards greater multi-modalism.

PS: David, I think you have a typo in the second to last word of this post.

by Will on Dec 8, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

Lance will be happy about this. Hopefully now we can complete the elevated I-95 bypass from the 14th Street Bridge to College Park, and prevent that Center City project from tragically eliminating one of downtown's last surviving stands of public surface-parking.

The region's commuters have suffered enough!

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 10:30 am • linkreport

One more step in moving DC backward to the days of Marion Barry.

by Jim on Dec 8, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

Thank God! ! Internally that agency is a balkanized mismanaged mess eventhough there has been some progress on context sensitive solutions.

by Some Ideas on Dec 8, 2010 10:33 am • linkreport

Just for the record:

Gabe Klein got sacked by the guy David Alpert endorsed.

by anonymous on Dec 8, 2010 10:35 am • linkreport

A number of commenters will be cheering this on in a minute, anticipating a wave of auto-revanchism. But until the replacement is selected, there's no guarantee that the replacement will change course. This could just be an attempt to mollify opponents with a less controversial appointee. Claims either way are just wild-ass guesses.

by Neil Flanagan on Dec 8, 2010 10:36 am • linkreport

Not a bit surprised, and really no one should be.

I know the biking crowd liked him, I get it but he was never qualified for the position and he has taken quite a few lumps over his 2 year term to show for it.

And lest we forget that Gabe was wildly unpopular with Gray's largest demo. Anyone who even remotely thought Gabe would stay simply wasn't paying attention.

by freely on Dec 8, 2010 10:38 am • linkreport

On a cheerful note, didn't the council just move forward to get rid of the overhead wire requirement for trolleys? I hope the aesthetic purists don't gummy this up.

by Thayer-D on Dec 8, 2010 10:41 am • linkreport

City agency heads usually last 2.5 years. It's hard work, bad hours, a lot of hassle. I think his time was up, one way or another. He'll have a good legacy, and many admirers, and he won't have to cut his pet projects as the Gray administration digs us out of the fiscal hell hole that Fenty is leaving behind.

by mtp on Dec 8, 2010 10:41 am • linkreport

Alpert - Will you be asking folks to flood Gray's line today? Didn't you endorse the Mayor-Elect? I'd be curious to get your thoughts on the matter.

This is the first of many more backward steps for the Gray administration. Fenty wasn't perfect, but he was forward thinking -- a trait that Gray has yet to exhibit. This is a sad day for the District!

by Maximillian on Dec 8, 2010 10:46 am • linkreport

Finally! Now we can tear up those bike lanes so the poor black people of DC will finally see an improvement in their standard of living!

by Teyo on Dec 8, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

@Neil Flanagan,

You're right, of course. This could be very similar to what happened with Rhee. She was dismissed and replaced with her aide-de-camp, an ex-TFA executive who was the lead DCPS negotiator on both the teacher's contract and the much despised (among WTU-types) IMPACT evaluation system.

She's essentially Michelle Rhee if Rhee's parents had been black instead of Asian. My guess is, that's not exactly what Gray's most ardent anti-reform supporters were asking for.

Hopefully the same thing will happen with Klein's termination. Who's the highest ranking black man at DDOT who shares every single one of Klein's objectives? Anyone know?

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

@Neil But until the replacement is selected, there's no guarantee that the replacement will change course. This could just be an attempt to mollify opponents with a less controversial appointee.

I doubt if there's anyone out there who wants the department to 'change course'. This 'course' was set a long time ago by Klein's predecessors. The problem here was in the implementation and management of the a course already set. It's been spun otherwise, but don't believe everything you hear spun.

by Lance on Dec 8, 2010 10:53 am • linkreport

It's been spun otherwise, but don't believe everything you hear spun.

Lance, that's why I don't listen to much of what you have to say.

by Matt Johnson on Dec 8, 2010 10:55 am • linkreport

I'll be sure to hold Gray and Alpert accountable for future DDOT shortcomings. Those of us smart enough to not vote for Gray knew better.

by Nick on Dec 8, 2010 11:04 am • linkreport

I'd like to see a current or ex New York City transportation head take Klein's place. D.C. needs to be more like NY, not SF.

by Shadow Inc. on Dec 8, 2010 11:04 am • linkreport

@Lance,

Oh, I don't know. You might want to take that up with @freely, who wrote:

And lest we forget that Gabe was wildly unpopular with Gray's largest demo. Anyone who even remotely thought Gabe would stay simply wasn't paying attention.

He seems to think there's some sort of groundswell of opposition to recent DDOT policies. Either that or the whole "Bike Lanes...For Who????" idiocy was really just about personal opposition to Klein? Perhaps "Gray's largest demo[!]" hated Klein because he listened to the traffic engineers but was overruled by Fenty on the Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes? Or was this tidal wave of populist outrage because he failed to get enough early buy-in from the Committee of 100 on overhead wires? Or maybe "Gray's largest demo" is "DC citizens who are either members, or fervent supporters of the Committee of 100"...

It's all so confusing. Of course, one thing we do know is that in situations like these, every picayune interest group wants to be the first to claim the scalp.

"DC's vegans voted for Gray disproportionately, and Klein's a hated meat-eater! Therefore his firing shows the mandate for a pro-vegan policies to which his successor must cleave!"

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

The most recent ex NYC transportation head was terrible.

by David Alpert on Dec 8, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

Will GGW be carrying this announcement live ?

by Lance on Dec 8, 2010 11:10 am • linkreport

Oboe, it seems as if you're suggesting that Klein should be replaced by a black person? No, in fact that is exactly what you're saying and I'm not sure why. Michelle Rhee picked her own deputy, who happened to be black. Now she's the interim chancellor. By the way, Rhee wasn't simply dismissed, she actively campaigned on the fact that she wasn't interested in sticking around.

This is just another example of the revisionist history that many of rabid, anti-gray, ProFenty/SuperRhee messianiacs tend to invoke. Facts be damned!

Max wrote: "This is the first of many more backward steps for the Gray administration. Fenty wasn't perfect, but he was forward thinking -- a trait that Gray has yet to exhibit. This is a sad day for the District!"

I'm assume you're referring to the backwards act of keeping Rhee's personal choice as successor? Or was that forward thinking. Oh, well maybe it wasn't any thinking. Or maybe it was the little gremlin under the bridge?

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 11:11 am • linkreport

I'll be sure to hold Gray and Alpert accountable for future DDOT shortcomings. Those of us smart enough to not vote for Gray knew better.

Hey now! David never claimed Gray's policies would be "better" or even "as good" as those of Klein under Fenty. If I recall correctly, he argued that there was not any compelling reason they might not be as good or better.

Now, if those policies happen to be worse, his prediction will still have been eerily accurate.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

Oh and I also assume that the rabid ProFentywelovebikesandparksandhatedanyonewhodidntagree crowd will begin to pack their bags for the burbs!!! Need a U-Haul?

Gabe Superman Klein, a one man show, is now leaving.

Is that the sky I see falling?

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 11:15 am • linkreport

Klein said in his presser that Gray hadn't even talked with him in 3 months. To me that's the most damning part of all this for both Gray and the Alpert endorsement of Gray. Not keeping Klein is one thing but not engaging him during the transition period and atleast strongly considering retaining him is B.S.

by Jason on Dec 8, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

Oboe, it seems as if you're suggesting that Klein should be replaced by a black person? No, in fact that is exactly what you're saying and I'm not sure why. Michelle Rhee picked her own deputy, who happened to be black. Now she's the interim chancellor. By the way, Rhee wasn't simply dismissed, she actively campaigned on the fact that she wasn't interested in sticking around.

This is just another example of the revisionist history that many of rabid, anti-gray, ProFenty/SuperRhee messianiacs tend to invoke. Facts be damned!

Hmm. Speaking of "revisionist history", from the WaPo in October:

Presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray introduced Kaya Henderson on Wednesday as the interim chancellor of D.C. public schools and vowed that reforms launched under Michelle A. Rhee would continue when he takes office in January.

"We cannot and will not return to the days of incrementalism," said Gray, appearing at a news conference with Rhee, Henderson and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who will formally appoint Henderson at Gray's request.

Funny, but I don't see anything there about *Rhee* choosing Henderson. Could you explain to me how the fired ex-political opponent of the Mayor-elect has the power to appoint anyone to anything? Seems like the "rabid, anti-Fenty, ProGray/Super...um...Henderson[?] messianiacs" might be engaging in some wishful thinking here.

Seriously, I think some of the Fenty supporters might end up disappointed in a Gray mayoralty, but it's looking increasingly likely that the more rabid Gray supporters will feel a bit like liberals do about Obama.

We voted for Obama as a repudiation of the 2000s, and lo and behold, the guy opts for a continuation of every policy Bush ever implemented. Very frustrating!

But, yes, given that Gray's entire campaign seems to be--at this point--based on repackaging Fenty's policies in a shiny new wrapper with "One City" printed on it, coupled with the entire history of cynical big-city mayoral politics, I think it's entirely possible that race may lay a part in Gray's DDOT appointment choice.

Especially given that many, many Gray supporters pilloried Fenty for having a set of high-profile appointees that didn't reflect the complexion of DC residents.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:25 am • linkreport

Gabe did an excellent job in the position. He moved projects forward. He turned over shovels on plans that have been sitting around for decades.

Anyone who claims he was bumbling along, or that Gabe moved forward on any project without adequate planning, simply wasn't paying attention, or doesn't believe any of the logic based blogging of GGW and its contributors.

Gabe pursued policies that promoted inter-modal travel. He wanted anyone who only wanted to drive, to be accommodated, just as much as he wanted to help those of us who prefer other modes.

This really is unfortunate, I hope Vince is able to pick someone with the same inclination for getting things done, not just sitting around and planning/collaborating for years to come, we've already planned a lot, let's actually put some more of those plans into place.

by S.A.M. on Dec 8, 2010 11:26 am • linkreport

@oboe Awesome, so a leader in the D.C. media and policy community managed to endorse without really endorsing.

I admire and respect Alpert for what he's done, but his endorsement of Gray was the biggest piece of buck passing I've seen since sneaking into a strip club when I was 18. I can't accept that someone as intelligent and capable as Alpert actually believed Gray, as mayor, would not be harmful to many of the policies Alpert supports.

I'm not saying Gray is a horrible person and will be a Berry-esque mayor, but he will most certainly damage the pieces of city government which have directly improved many of our lives these past four years.

Many of us realized that months ago, and we don't even run an amazing, innovative blog. I have to believe Alpert knew better. I can't accept that he could not.

by Nick on Dec 8, 2010 11:27 am • linkreport

Oh and I also assume that the rabid ProFentywelovebikesandparksandhatedanyonewhodidntagree crowd will begin to pack their bags for the burbs!!! Need a U-Haul?

Hmm. Not sure I understand. Why would you see any sort of emigration when every sign indicates that their preferred policies are going to continue on apace?

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:28 am • linkreport

*puts on tinfoil hat*

Obviously, this was David's plan all along. With Klein gone and the inevitable collapse of DC's transportation infrastructure now imminent, David will be able to write many more critical posts, resulting in a huge uptick in page views. I think his strategy was something like this:

1. Support Grey
2. Watch Klein get fired
3. ?????
4. Profit!

*removes tinfoil hat*

by Teyo on Dec 8, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

Why does everyone assume that Kaya Henderson will stay on at DCPS? Last I checked her title is *interim* chancellor, and if I had to guess we won't have a final decision on that until summer.

by Phil on Dec 8, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

Oboe, so you think that it wasn't understand that Rhee leaving will put Henderson in her slot? You really don't think that was part of the deal? Really? Oh ok. But that still doesn't address your race-baiting insertion. Oh wait, maybe you stated such because you actually believe that Gray chose Henderson because she was black, not that she was her deputy.

In a perfect world, a politician will never disappoint any of his supporters. But we're not in a perfect world and in all likelihood, Gray will disappoint quite a few. That is how life works you know? No such thing as 100% satisfaction?Contrary to popular belief, many of us Gray supporters fully understood that there were things Fenty implemented that will be continued by Gray BECAUSE they are a benefit to the city. It is the rabid Fenty/Rhee crowd who assumed that supporting Gray means that you support rescission of everythying Fenty did. Even Rhee perpetuated that myth, one similar to the myth that "unions" bought the election for Gray.

Now I suggest you read the comments from the rabids on this site before you start saying that the Fentiers will be happy since Gray will continue these policies. If you really believe that, I task you to convince some of the commenters here that you're right about Gray and they're wrong.

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

. But that still doesn't address your race-baiting insertion.

Oh, please. We're adults here, so you won't get much traction with that kind of ginned-up outrage. If you think the racial make-up of the mayor's appointees is a complete non-issue in a town where the single largest voting block is african-american, but also a town that's on the cusp of becoming a black-minority city for the first time in a half century, I don't know what to tell you.

Gray's appointees will tend to be black for the same reason a white mayor is unelectable in DC. The optics are just too bad otherwise.

It's just silly to head for the fainting couch every time someone points this out.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:50 am • linkreport

Now I suggest you read the comments from the rabids on this site before you start saying that the Fentiers will be happy since Gray will continue these policies. If you really believe that, I task you to convince some of the commenters here that you're right about Gray and they're wrong.

Oh, and the proof is in the pudding. It's not a question of who's happy *now*. Nothing's been done yet. It's a question of who's going to be upset four years from now.

And I stand by my assertion that a mayor who campaigned on promises to "rein in the developers" and bring along "those who have been left behind" is going to be a major disappointment to his supporters.

Those goals are simply unattainable, and they were the core of Gray's campaign message.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 11:54 am • linkreport

We voted for Obama as a repudiation of the 2000s, and lo and behold, the guy opts for a continuation of every policy Bush ever implemented. Very frustrating!

Not to drag this hopelessly offtopic, but you're making an apples-to-oranges comparison.

The DC executive (ie. Mayor) has a significant (but not limitless) amount of power. If you oppose the building height restriction, or DC's lack of voting representation, you can't really blame Fenty/Gray for failing to act on them. It's outside of their control. However, the mayor does get to make a number of very influential staffing decisions, and can more or less control the city's trajectory, unless the Council really, really, doesn't want him to.

On the other hand, the US president is not a king or supreme dictator. His only major power is to sign legislation that is given to him by the congress -- the American President's powers are intentionally and deliberately very limited in the Constitution. If you want to blame somebody for continuing Bush-era policies, blame the Republicans (and conservative Democrats) in Congress for holding the government hostage until they got their way. Could Obama have been a better negotiator? Maybe. However, based upon the way that our government is structured, his hands have been tied for most of the duration of his presidency.

by andrew on Dec 8, 2010 12:01 pm • linkreport

"Have faith in our ideas, vote gray"

"Write a letter begging Vince to keep Klein and Tregoning"

"Klien let go, Vince doesn't even speak with him"

When will you admit buyer's remorse, David?

Too funny. So easily seduced by a little access / meet and greet.

by Lol'z on Dec 8, 2010 12:04 pm • linkreport

Yeah and how well that work during Fenty's reign? Since Fenty is a brother, did he stack his administration with top officials (who happened to be black) that showed DC's continued lack of racial diversity? Neither Rhee, Lanier, Albert, Klein, Argo, Ghandi and a host of others aren't black.

You're right, the racial make-up is an issue and your post proves why. Despite the obvious makeup of Fenty's (and I dare say Williams) cabinet, you trumpet this crap about Gray's appointments "tending to be black" as if you've discovered something novel. You haven't.

But deflection is key to your argument. You believe that Gray appointed Henderson because she was black and I do not. Had she not been Rhee's deputy, I would argue for your position.

So again, yes race is an issue. An issue that hasn't passed you by apparently.

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 12:09 pm • linkreport

@andrew:

I was speaking more to the *perception* of Obama by his core supporters than to the reality. I won't belabor the point, though I will say there are many things the President *can* do by executive order. That and the question "Could the President be a better negotiator?" hinges on the fine distinctions between incompetence and maliciousness.

In any case, I doubt anyone would argue that the Democratic base is happy right now, or feels they got what they voted for. For whatever his merits or policies, my prediction is Gray will be forced into a similar position.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 12:09 pm • linkreport

Andrew, brotha I agree that Obama's hands have been tied. In fact, he gave them the rope, laid face down and tied his own hands behind his back.

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 12:12 pm • linkreport

Reading Lol'z comment made me realize what was in front of my face all along: Alpert had more access to Gray than director Klein did. That's sad.

by Jason on Dec 8, 2010 12:15 pm • linkreport

So again, yes race is an issue. An issue that hasn't passed you by apparently.

So glad we agree on everything. What exactly was your point about Fenty failing to appoint a sufficient number of black faces to top positions, then being booted out of office after one term--almost *unanimously* east of the river--for "not caring about black people"? Presumably Gray wants a second term--so it's unlikely he'll repeat what was essentially the major mistake of Fenty's term.

In any case, it must get frustrating to keep looking for a thin tissue of an opportunity to play the race card and not finding it. Why not put it away?

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

"It really will fundamentally change the way this agency operates, from an enterprise agency to more of a more standardized, traditional government agency, with more central decision making downtown and more administration on [the director's] level...[which is] probably not a good fit for me going forward," Klein admitted

Translation: "ain't shit getting done in the next 4 years"

Oh well. No doubt our loss is going to be another Citys gain. Maybe Baltimore could snag him.

by John on Dec 8, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

One Giant Leap Backwards!!!

This is very telling and sad for the future of Washington and the surrounding metropolitan area. You can say what you want about Gabe Klein "not being a transportation professional" or a career bureaucrat, but the point was that he (Klein) was turning the "culture" and thinking of DDoT around to a mindset of looking forward to solve the city's transportation problems instead of the "same ole poor customer dis-service". And Klein as a voice for progressive and innovative transportation programs could help change the tone in the entire metro region.

It is also very disturbing that Gray hadn't even spoken with Klein in the last 3 months and that race issues and divisions seem to be very alive and well in the district.

"Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was."

by Jester on Dec 8, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

A few people on Twitter have made the argument that this isn't so much a race divide (as HogWash would like to believe) as it is an age divide. Add a little class divide to complete the trifecta...

by Froggie on Dec 8, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

Wait, I respond to your post where you asked whether there was a high-ranking black person available to replace Klein and you now claim that "I" am playing the race card?

But this has turned out better than expected. Rather than debate what we can accept as fact, you attach straw men, elephants, lions, tigers, bears and all sorts of fanciful stuff, to your argument. As an adult, I can comfortably say that those people "west of the river" who supported Fenty didn't do so because they thought Gray would do more for black people, even though many of them (now including you) suggest so.

Obviously, you are one of those smart people who can't get to the crux of an issue. That explains how you branded all Fenty opposition "across the river" solely to race. On this one, I'm hip to the game. What's striking is that since I know nonblacks (west of river) who voted for Fenty and I would never claim they did so for racially polarized reasons, even on a blog. Can you say the same?

As to your unanimous argument, this too is where I am hip. I witnessed this during the 2008 election where it was concluded that blacks overwhelmingly supported Obama because he was black. Not that we liked him more than Hillary of McCain but because he was black. Your quip is no different here.

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 12:53 pm • linkreport

@HogWash

Remember that when Obama first announced he was running there was talk from some people that he might not be "black enough", whatever that means. Similar things were said about Fenty. The campaign, despite its "One City" mantra, had racial undertones suggesting this as well.

On the other hand, I'm just a myopic little twit who lives in Arlington and doesn't know any black people in Anacostia, so I guess I'm not actually qualified to talk.

by Teyo on Dec 8, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

It seems like very darn comment thread in D.C. always, somehow, devolves to the issue of race... Pathetic.

by S.A.M. on Dec 8, 2010 12:59 pm • linkreport

Lets draw parallels between DC/Fenty, and the Nation/Obama.
Two years ago I thought Obama was going to change the world. I was also at the time witnessing competent, responsive government in DC for the first time since I was born here 30 years ago. I thought for the first time ever that perhaps democracy was working.
Now I look at Obama, hardly the face of change, and I look at the ousted Fenty and Klein. And I think, maybe Obama isn't so stupid after all... Had Obama really brought down the thunder like Fenty did would he have made it to another term. I'd argue not. But then I would have much rather he brought down the thunder all the same.

by John on Dec 8, 2010 1:02 pm • linkreport

Think these personal attacks on David are totally out of order. after all 1) I'm sure he didn't know what would happen 2) no-one knows who will be Gabe's replacement...

Now if Gabe is so irreplaceable then I think DC & America have a huge problem! Let's see who will be his replacement first! I'm sure there is a guy or a girl as capable as Gabe, maybe even more...

by Vincent Flament on Dec 8, 2010 1:03 pm • linkreport

There are quite a few "high ranking" people of color quite capable of leading this department. The tough one for the crowd here is that the combination of terms "african-american DOT leader" and "smart growth multi-modal transportation advocate" is a lot more of a stretch.

N.B. Gloria Jeff the Acting AWI Director under Nic Nicholson at DDOT/IPMA was once GM at Los Angeles DOT. (That is another story).

by Some Ideas on Dec 8, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

I honestly meant no disrespect to Dave, and I greatly admire what he's done and continues to do.

I'm simply saying I think many of us foresaw the already-apparent issues with a Gray administration, with Klein's removal being just the latest chapter, and that Alpert seemed naive in his pre-primary post.

Everyone makes mistakes and this misstep does not tarnish his greater body of work. It just frustrates someone who felt helpless to stop what occurred in the Democratic primary.

by Nick on Dec 8, 2010 1:07 pm • linkreport

@froggie:

...[T]his isn't so much a race divide (as HogWash would like to believe) as it is an age divide. Add a little class divide to complete the trifecta...

But they're all interrelated, right? DC's elderly are overwhelmingly black. DC's poor are--with the exception of a small Latino population--overwhelmingly black.

Heck, nearly *all* of DCs racial tension could be re-framed as class-struggle. You can bet Capitol Hill residents Grover Norquist and Donna Brazile have more in common as pertains to local politics than Donna Brazile has in common with a struggling single mother of three in Ward 8.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 1:07 pm • linkreport

Our long regional nightmare is over.

by MPC on Dec 8, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

Froggie, I am one of those who long thought the opposition to Gray was really ageism exacerbated by race. Dealing with facts, there has been little to nothing in Gray's history to suggest that he was any "blacker" than Fenty, catered to blacks more than he should've, played the race card more than he should've, wasn't supportive of iniatives to curb dependency on the gov't etc. If we accept these things as true, how is it that Gray became the "black" candidate?

I think it happened because people heard that he worked with Barry and they attached every ill-motivation from there. He was "returning us back" to the days of whatever they wanted to accuse him of. IMO, Gray reminded them of an era (age) they didn't like not a race. But race did become secondary.

@Teyo, the same was also said about Williams, from likely the same group of people. Rememeber that? And Williams, like Obama ran and won.

by HogWash on Dec 8, 2010 1:14 pm • linkreport

I don't understand all the agita. We elected a new mayor. He will be appointing his own people to his cabinet. Is anyone actually surprised? This is the way the system works.

I'm just happy he's finally getting around to filling the positions.

by jcm on Dec 8, 2010 1:16 pm • linkreport

@Nick: I'm simply saying I think many of us foresaw the already-apparent issues with a Gray administration, with Klein's removal being just the latest chapter, and that Alpert seemed naive in his pre-primary post.

- Bingo. Couldn't have said it better myself.

by Lol'z on Dec 8, 2010 1:17 pm • linkreport

"Alpert had more access to Gray than director Klein did."

How many of Albert's meetings with Gray, of which I believe there was one, did Gray initiate?

How many times did Klein ask to talk to Gray?

I don't remember reading anything about Klein complaining of trying to talk to Gray about the future of his post, or about anything, and being unable to receive his ear.

Could just be that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Along these lines, one thing is clear about the outgoing administration: the DDOT head had much better access to the mayor than the chairman of the city council did. That concerns me a lot more than the lack of conversations between the not-yet-mayor and the people he was planning to sack.

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 1:19 pm • linkreport

@S.A.M.

It seems like very darn comment thread in D.C. always, somehow, devolves to the issue of race... Pathetic.

It's about class. Race is just a proxy for class. Which means it's about race, too. And round and round we go.

Not sure why you find this pathetic, though. Given that it's *the* principal dynamic through which DC politics operates, that these topics are usually avoided at all costs in the name of "getting along", and that the conversation seems on the whole to be pretty respectful and honest, what's the problem.

We should be talking about race and class *more*, in my opinion, not less.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 1:25 pm • linkreport

"That concerns me a lot more than the lack of conversations between the not-yet-mayor and the people he was planning to sack."

That's the issue right there. Alpert said "have faith in our ideas". Well if the soon-to-be-mayor sacks Klein without even talking to him for months how much "faith in our ideas" could Gray possibly have? Hey, but he had blogger round tables. woooo hoooo!

by Jason on Dec 8, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport

Along these lines, one thing is clear about the outgoing administration: the DDOT head had much better access to the mayor than the chairman of the city council did. That concerns me a lot more than the lack of conversations between the not-yet-mayor and the people he was planning to sack.

Why would that concern you? Does it concern you that the Secretary of State has better access to the President than Harry Reid does? Makes no sense.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

@Jason: There is a lot more behind the decision to keep or replace department heads than mollifying the readers of GGW. Is this even a surprise? How many people did Fenty keep?

If Gray had actually gone out and had long talks with all the department heads to discuss their future, then everyone here would be complaining about him being indecisive, too deliberative, and unable to make executive decisions.

Shocker, you can't win.

I love how everyone is already saying "our fears for the administration have already come true!" Perhaps you should at least wait until he's actually the mayor before saying "I told you so." He hasn't painted over any bike lanes yet.

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 1:43 pm • linkreport

@oboe, the correct analogy would be Ray LaHood, who is the Secretary of Transportation.

Harry Reid probably does have better access to Obama than he does, and I would certainly hope that the president communicates with the heads of the legislative branch more often than with the DOT head who nobody's ever heard of.

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

Does anyone remember the whole pseudo-scandal with the fence at Gray's house? I believe DDOT was the agency that singled Gray out for enforcement in that case. It not surprising that Gray wasn't too keen on working with Klein after that.

by Phil on Dec 8, 2010 1:52 pm • linkreport

The King of Zipcar will survive! I'm a survivor, I'm not gon break up...Gabe, ride that pink slip til the wheels fall off. Dude, now you don't have to worry about stomaching the halitosis of Dracula.

by anonymous on Dec 8, 2010 1:58 pm • linkreport

@oboe, the correct analogy would be Ray LaHood, who is the Secretary of Transportation.

No, I disagree.

I understand why you want to change the analogy from the SecDef to Transportation, since Defense is considered one of the core functions of the federal government. That's obviously not the case with local government. But transportation remains probably *the* core function of local government. Hence dc.DOT == fed.DOD.

The Secretary of Defense (or State) at the federal level is the equivalent of the DDOT head at the local level. So my analogy is more apropos.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 1:59 pm • linkreport

Sadly, Karina Ricks will likely be rolled up and out because of that one..

by Some Ideas on Dec 8, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

Gabe Klein,
If you are reading this, as a DC resident, I think you did an incredible job. Hopefully our new major won't undo all the good things you've done.

John

by JohnDC on Dec 8, 2010 2:02 pm • linkreport

@oboe, well if you don't think "tranportation == transporation" is a good analogy then I probably can't say anything to convince you.

The city council writes laws. The legislative branch writes laws. The president signs laws. The mayor signs laws.

The DOT may be "the core function of local government" to you, because you want them to make more bike lines. I think if you asked most people, they would be concerned much more with crime and education than with bike lanes and streetcars.

But whatever your personal opinion, they all depend on legislation, and the city council has far more to do with the lives of most people day-to-day than Gabe Klein does.

Do you really think more people have heard of Gabe Klein than Jim Graham? Do you really think anyone outside GGW could tell you who Gabe Klein is?

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 2:06 pm • linkreport

@oboe, well if you don't think "tranportation == transportaion" is a good analogy then I probably can't say anything to convince you.

Too simplistic. It's not a question of the two being formally equivalent. It's a question of their relative profile in the government. Simply, DDOT--along with public safety, and yes, school administration--are the three hugely important core functions of local government. Not so much at the national level.

DDOT's prominence has nothing to do with bike lanes; why do you think that potholes, snow-removal, and the like (and school metrics, and crime stats) are the focus of every single election? Certainly in a way that DCRA is not.

As far as Gabe Klein's name recognition, I doubt 5% of Americans could name Obama's Secretary of the Treasury. You can bet that he spends more time with Obama than Harry Reid gets.

by oboe on Dec 8, 2010 2:48 pm • linkreport

@oboe, potholes is DPW, not DOT. But I totally agree with the list of things you mention as being concerns. In each and every case, what is most important to DC citizens as far as DDOT and DPW is that we get basic services.

Are you concerned about Gabe Klein leaving because of pothole filling, snow removal, and trash collection? Those certainly are not the subjects that most often come up around here associated with his name, and I can't think of any reason to think that any capable manager, whatever his particular approach to urbanism, would decide they should not be important.

DDOT's prominence, to most people, is that they should never have to think about DDOT. They just want the potholes to be filled and the roads to be cleared.

But back to the sorts of conversations that should go on in government, if what most people want out of DDOT is that they do their job, why would the mayor need to have regular conversations with them? Like, how are those potholes going? Did you guys fire up the snowplows this year to make sure they work?

Policy making, on the other hand, is a political process that involves negotiation and lots of stakeholders who want different things. The fact that Fenty did not understand that is why he did not get re-elected.

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 2:58 pm • linkreport

Jamie - you just showed the uselessness of the comments here... and the lack of knowledge here!!! Potholes are INDEED DDOT. All street and bridge maintenance is handled through the Transportation Operations Administration, Soumya Dey Acting AD, Frank Pacifico Superintendent. DDOT is in charge of Snow (Robert Marsili), with DPW providing support in staff and equipment.

All y'all need to learn the names and roles of everything DDOT is really responsible for and does on a daily basis. You make yourselves look silly with your one note song.

by Some Ideas on Dec 8, 2010 4:52 pm • linkreport

Some Ideas, I stand corrected. But perhaps you got stuck on that first sentence and didn't read the rest? Whether DPW or DOT fixes potholes is absolutely irrelevant to the point of my comment. The point is that the services people care about from DDOT are ones that should be invisible. And frankly most people don't know or care whether DPW or DDOT fixes potholes, nor should they have to. We just want them fixed.

by Jamie on Dec 8, 2010 4:58 pm • linkreport

First, I need to fully disclose my dogs in this fight, as a third-generation Washingtonian AND a 34 year professional transportation\transit planner AND a former employee of what was originally DC DOT, before it morphed into DC DPW and is now DDOT. (In fact I worked under both Tom Downs and Cell Bernardino before leaving DC Govt service.)

Second, I, for one, personally suggested to Gray (twice) that he should keep Klein (and Scott Kubly, who I suspect will be out the door right behind Klein) unless he was drop-dead sure that he had someone better in mind.

He clearly has opted to do something else. So be it.

Third, considering that two former DC DOT\DC DPW directors - Tom Downs (who was far and away THE best WMATA board member DC ever sent into the Graham Building) and Cell Bernardino - are key advisors in the Gray transition team, I was frankly not surprised, though mildly disappointed, to hear yesterday that Klein was, in fact, either leaving or had been asked to resign.

Fourth, I suppose the back spin Gray could put on what I told him twice might be: what is going (or will go) on at DDOT that ONLY Klein (and Kubly?) were uniquely equipped to handle? By definition, a top drawer municipal transportation public policy executive should be able to pick up those batons and finish the race. Assuming, that is, that Gray does not have some fundamentally different directions and strategic objectives in mind for DDOT. In that case he obviously has grounds for wanting his own people in place in what you might call a mission-critical department like DDOT. (Bear in mind that this department in some form or other touches the lives (and affects the quality of life) over every citizen in this City.)

So, sixth, looked at from that perspective, it is only fair that Gray should be allowed to bring in the people he wants to further his agenda. That, after all, was the verdict from the voters in September and November, now wasn't it?

Harold E. Foster; AAG-ProfGeog: AICP
Acting Executive Officer
The Amériças Institute
Petworth

by Harold Foster on Dec 9, 2010 9:55 am • linkreport

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