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Council, Fenty Battling Over Labor Relations Nominees

The D.C. Council is set for another showdown with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Though the council Committee on Government Operations and the Environment rejected the mayor's four nominees to the Public Employee Relations Board, Fenty has asked for a vote from the full council at Tuesday's legislative meeting.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said at a markup last week that the four nominees do not have the expertise to serve on the board, which has the job of dealing with labor unions and collective bargaining. She said there are plenty of attorneys with such skills that can be tapped for the board.

Fenty's nominees are friends and associates - James Byles, Diaa Nour, Brenda Oliver and Darryl Wiggins - following the mayor's pattern of loading boards with buddies.

"They're all intelligent, experienced, accomplished people...but they do not meet the statutary requirements," Cheh said at last week's hearing.

Meanwhile, Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) is proposing emergency legislation Tuesday to reduce the three-member quorum requirement of the board known as PERB to just one, for 180 days, or until new members can be appointed.

On Friday, Attorney General Peter J. Nickles sent Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) a letter saying the legislation is ill-advised. "The volume of work is beyond one person, no matter how qualified he or she may be - and the measure poses significant legal issues," he wrote.

Gray said yesterday that the council would take its chances. "Like other members, I'm very concerned about people who are qualified to do the work and those who have been nominated," he said.

But the council may have to wait a month. Gray said the nominations may be pulled from tomorrow's agenda because of a technicality with Fenty failing to submit the nominations in a timely manner. Stay tuned. A vote would show whether Fenty can muster seven council members to side with him.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  April 7, 2009; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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