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Mendelson: Atty. Gen. should be elected

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is proposing to require an election of the city's attorney general, a measure that will get its first airing Tuesday.

The legislation, which would create a four-year term for the city's chief lawyer, comes amid concerns that Attorney General Peter Nickles has acted more on behalf of the mayor than the public. Nickles, former general counsel to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, is a family friend of Fenty.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Anne Bartlett  |  January 4, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart  
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I have said this since the first William's Administration. The city's chief legal officer should to be an elected official. This is the common best practice across the nation.

Nickles is proof-positive why this is so very important. Being appointed lends his loyalty to the executive as opposed to the people. And this can be very dangerous to the people if crimes are being committed by the executive.

I can hardly wait to hear the dumb pandering excuses from Fenty's council rubber stamps as to why the Attorney General should not be accountable, by election, to the people.

Then, perhaps, one of all of them will seek the job which would certainly gain prestige. Who knows. I'll stay tuned.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | January 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree. Nickles works in the interest of the mayor and not the city.

Posted by: candycane1 | January 4, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It only makes sense if the elected position is nonpartisan so that attorneys working for the Federal Government or D.C. Government could run for the position. If not, the Hatch Act would prevent qualified individuals from running. This would lead to more unqualified people being elected to city government positions. Only in DC are local government employees prohibited from running for partisan political positions.

As a city, we don't have a great history of electing qualified and "honest" people.

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | January 4, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Alas, electing public attorneys is a double-edged sword. If it is possible to ensure that the electee is not merely part of a mayoral team (think "ticket" election slates), we may gain the independence we so sorely lack at present. But causing the public attorney to have to pander for votes like any other politician brings with it its own risks of skewed priorities and questionable loyalties.

It is so unfortuate that Messrs. Fenty and Nickles have so debased the office of AG that this change is now seen as a positive - and possibly necessary - move. Unlike the present occupant, the position of AG (and its predecessor, known as Corporation Counsel) has over the past decades been filled by some truly accomplished and ethically irreproachable men and women... who accomplished much good for the city, and who never lost sight of the fact that their client is the government and people of the District of Columbia. Would that that were the csse today.

Posted by: nan_lynn | January 4, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

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