Congressman drops bill on D.C. hiring
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A leading House Republican has withdrawn a bill that would legislate the District's hiring practices after city lawmakers complained of Congressional meddling, but some locals fear this won't be the last intervention as multiple city officials this year have been hit by scandal.
"Wherever there's political motivation and opportunity ... I think it's inevitable there's going to be more of this stuff," said Ivan Frishberg, a Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Ward 6.
On Tuesday, California Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he would not submit his proposal to require criminal background checks for mayoral appointees and other mandates for future District employees after learning of a similar bill already before the city council. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said he spoke with Issa on Tuesday morning about the two bills and told him the council could efficiently shepherd through its hiring legislation. The hearing on the city bill is now set for Nov. 10.
"We share a common goal and that is to improve the practices of hiring District employees," Brown said. "I understood his concerns, and we are committed to making it happen by the end of the year."
Issa's office did not return multiple requests for comment.
The attempt by Issa highlighted the rift that can deepen under a Republican Congress that works in a staunchly Democratic city. Residents often see any move by Congress as an infringement.
"We've become a pawns on a national stage," said Frishberg.
Meanwhile, city politicians are using the case to rally for statehood. Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh said she was glad Issa withdrew the bill but feared that Congress is "frustrated with its own inability to get things done" and that "meddling with the District" was an easy distraction.
"I hope this was an instructive lesson that we should pay more attention to the true idea of home rule," she said.
But along with the political rift, the city's government has come under scrutiny this year from the top down, as scandals have plagued Mayor Vincent Gray's administration and five of the 13 councilmembers. The campaigns of Gray and Brown are under federal investigation, as is Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.
Issa said on Monday that "congressional action is the only way to implement needed standards as a bulwark against cronyism."
But Brown said he had a "good" relationship with the congressman, adding that political parties were not dividers.
"Relationships are important -- there was a time when Tony Williams was mayor and the city had a Republican Congress and the city got a lot done," Brown said. "This is an example of us trying to work together."