The Washington Post
Mayor Nominates 6 Department Heads
Fenty’s Selections Include Chief Of Troubled Regulatory Agency
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty named six major department heads for his administration yesterday, including the director of the agency that issues licenses and permits for D.C. residents and businesses.
Fenty (D) announced the nomination of Linda Argo, the interim head of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, as permanent director during a news conference at the Washington Seniors Wellness Center in Southeast.
He also nominated Sharlynn E. Bobo for the Child and Family Services Agency; Kelly Valentine, Office of Risk Management; Clarence Brown, Office on Aging; Clarence H. Carter, Department of Human Services; and Tori Fernandez Whitney, Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration. The D.C. Council must approve the nominations.
Finding the right person to run DCRA has been a problem for the mayor, who has stated repeatedly that the agency is one of the most troubled in the city. DCRA covers a wide swath of the city, from homeowners seeking simple property upgrades to builders of major offices and even the new baseball stadium. Contractors have long complained about lengthy waits and red tape delaying projects indefinitely.
Administration sources said Fenty initially was interested in hiring Andrew A. Adelman, the director of building permits for the City of Los Angeles. But his candidacy was derailed after concerns were raised about some of the tactics Adelman used to approve permits, the sources said.
Fenty previously named as interim DCRA director Lisa Marie Morgan, who worked closely with City Administrator Dan Tangherlini when he was the interim head of Metro. But Morgan resigned in April after Fenty continued to criticize the agency.
She was replaced by Argo, who was previously DCRA’s deputy director and has been chief of staff and public information officer with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Critics have questioned whether her background is sufficient to run the troubled agency.
In continuing problems at DCRA, Zoning Administrator Bill Crews was placed on administrative leave for non-disciplinary actions last week. The mayor’s office had no comment on Crews, saying that the case was a personnel issue, said Fenty’s spokeswoman, Mafara Hobson.
Argo said DCRA’s challenges include improving staffing, upgrading technology and computer systems and maximizing customer services.
“It’s not McDonald’s. We’re not flipping burgers. We’re doing important work, and that takes time,” she said.
Fenty faced questions during the news conference about the racial composition of his Cabinet.
He has been criticized for not appointing enough blacks to prominent positions in the predominantly black city, especially after he named Cathy L. Lanier, who is white, as police chief and Michelle A. Rhee, who is Asian American, as schools chancellor.
Although he did not respond in detail on the issue of racial makeup, he said he and his staff sought balance in the nomination process.
“It’s important to us that our Cabinet reflect the diversity of our city,” Fenty said.
Five of the six nominees announced yesterday are black; Argo is white.