Albert Takes Time Out on Last Day to Chide Council
Neil Albert could have spent his last day as Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development cleaning out his desk and saying goodbye to his soon-to-be former colleagues. He may have done some of those last-day-on-the-job things, but he also took time out to fire off a four-page, single-spaced letter to Council Chair Vincent C. Gray chiding the Council for including provisions in the Budget Support Act (warning: large file, 12 MB) in which that he says the Council dictates how empty school buildings should be used. He wants Gray to remove the language when the Council takes a final vote on the Budget Support Act on Tuesday.
Take this provision about plans to move the fire and correctional departments from the former Grimke School in Northwest to the shuttered Patricia Roberts Educational Center in Southeast. "The headquarters of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and the headquarters of the Department of Corrections shall not be relocated to or housed in the Patricia R. Harris School and no funds shall be expended for those purposes," the legislation reads.
Not only can those agencies not move, they will also be welcoming a new neighbor. "$4 million in capital funds ... is for the renovation of space within Grimke School for the African-American Civil War Museum," the legislation says. The money would go to the D.C. Public Library, according to the Act. Albert notes in his letter that there was "no opportunity for public comment" and it would fly in the face of already underway work by the deputy mayor's office, which issued a public solicitation months ago and is currently reviewing proposals. "I urge the Council to remove the Grimke School Provision so that the current process, to which significant costs and efforts have already been dedicated, can continue," Albert wrote.
The Act also has language to set aside the shuttered Bertie Backus Middle School for the University of the District of Columbia as a community college, a move that Albert said would lead to the building being vacant for years until UDC has a firm plan. On that, Albert also says no-go. "...The designation of the Backus School as a UDC community college site has no connection to the budget for Fiscal Year 2010. I therefore urge you to remove the Backus School Provision from the Budget Support Act so that we may engage in a comprehensive process for determining the feasibility of a community college and the most appropriate location for such a facility."
No doubt this debate will continue since Albert will have even more influence in his new gig: City Administrator. He takes over after President Obama plucked Dan Tangherlini for his administration. Wonder how Albert spent his first day on the job.
-- Theola Labbé-DeBose
June 1, 2009; 1:46 PM ET
Categories: Browse By Writer , Crime and Public Safety , D.C. Council , Theola Labbé-DeBose
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