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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Brown shakes up council committees

By Washington Post Editors

D.C. Council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large), the incoming council chairman, shook up the committee chairmanships Wednesday, forcing Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) to swap committees.

Brown's reorganization will mean that Wells will now chair the Committee on Public Works and Transportation while Graham will head up the Human Services Committee.

"I am fine with this, I have had a great interest in youth violence and homelessness," Graham said in an interview. "I came to this council from human services, and I am ready for the huge challenges we are going to have here."

Despite leaving public works, Graham said he will be retaining oversight over alcohol regulations.

In recent days, there has been widespread speculation that Brown would remove Graham from the Metro Board. But Brown has not made an announcement on the matter.

It is customary for an incoming chairman to realign committees prior to the start of the legislative session.

In the weeks leading up today's decision, which was revealed to council members in a closed-door meeting about 3 p.m., some had expected Brown to make even broader changes.

According to a list of Brown's proposed changes, council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) will be the chairman of the Committee on Economic Development.

He will replace Brown, who as chair will head up the Committee of the Whole. That committee, made up of all council members, will continue to oversee education issues.

Thomas, who has been battling questions about his fundraising for a nonprofit group under his control, said he's looking forward to heading up the Economic Development Committee.

"I'm going to do as the chairman asked," said Thomas, who currently heads up the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Libraries. "I think our ward and our city have some good opportunities and I think we will do some good things."

Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 7) will replace Thomas as head of the parks committee.

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who had been lobbying to head up the Human Services Committee, will chair the Committee on Aging and Public Affairs.

Last year, Barry was stripped off his committee chairmanship amid allegations that he misused council earmarks. Brown has decided to give Barry a second chance. Still, according to council sources, Barry stormed out of the John A. Wilson Building this afternoon, furious that he did not receive the Human Services chairmanship.

In an interview, Barry said he had lobbied to head up the Human Services Committee but is happy with his new assignment. He also noted that he will be returning as a member of the Finance and Revenue Committee, a position he was stripped of last year.

"Politically, I'm stronger now than ever before," Barry said.

Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), the current head of the Committee on Aging and Public Affairs, will now chair the Public Services and Community Affairs Committee.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), who had been vying to take over education issues, will keep their current committee assignments.

Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) will also remain head of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, and Michael Brown (I-At Large) retains control of Housing and Workforce Development.

Several council members have speculated that Brown was preparing to remove Evans as chairman pro-tem of the council and name Cheh to the post. But no announcement was made, causing many to doubt the veracity of that rumor.

Brown was not immediately available to comment.

This post has been modified since it was first published.

By Washington Post Editors  | December 22, 2010; 4:33 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council, Marion Barry, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray  
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It will be interesting to see what Graham does to address problems at DYRS now that it is under his oversight of Human Services.

Posted by: Perseus | December 22, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

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