Council Bypasses Fenty on PERB Board
The D.C. Council voted today to veto Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's nominees for the Public Employee Relations Board. The council then enacted emergency legislation to allow the five-member board to operate with a quorum of one because of longstanding vacancies.
The Council enacted the legislation even though Fenty, according to Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) had promised to nominate four new board members by Friday.
But a backlog of cases before the board and growing tension between the Council and mayor prompted a lengthy discussion today.
After the mayor's nominees were rejected because of allegations of inexperience, Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) introduced his bill to allow the board to operate with only one member. The only current member of the board is a labor representative.
"There are people who need us to stand up for them," said Thomas, noting the board mediates labor disputes between the city and its employees.
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) got behind Thomas's proposal, which was the focus of a Washington Post editorial this morning.
Gray said Fenty is responsible for not appointing qualified nominees in a timely fashion.
"I think we have reached the point where action needs to be taken by this body," Gray said.
The bill needed 9 votes to be approved as emergency legislation. During the debate, it appeared as if the bill was set to fail after Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) made a motion to delay action on it for 10 days to give Fenty time to submit new nominees. His amendment was rejected on a voice vote.
When a final vote was taken a few minutes later, Wells joined eight of his colleagues in supporting the legislation.
Evans and Council members David Catania (I-At large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) voted against Thomas's bill.
"I am going to take the mayor at his word that he immediately intends to submit names." Catania said.
Council member Kwame Brown (D-At large) said today's vote was designed to "send a message" to Fenty.
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