D.C. Council Chairman-elect Kwame R. Brown said Monday he will use his eight-week transition period to conduct a top-to-bottom review of council operations. Brown said he wants to "improve the way the council does business" and to ensure that the government is more "open and responsive to residents."
In his first formal news conference since the Nov. 2 general election, Brown announced his transition would be led by Gregory McCarthy, vice president for government affairs for the Washington Nationals. McCarthy, who was a deputy chief of staff to former mayor Anthony Williams, said he is coming up with recommendations that will serve as a "blueprint not a dust collector" for Brown's tenure.
Brown said he would not accept public funds to cover the cost of the transition and instead plans to raise up to $150,000 in private donations. Brown said he would accept individual contributions of up to $25,000 and disclose the names of donors after the transition period. District law prohibits contributions of more than $2,000 to a political candidate, but the city's campaign finance regulations do not cover the transition period.
Brown, an at-large council member first elected in 2004, said the money would pay for a Web site, research and travel. He said he plans to meet with the leaders of city councils in Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Other transition team members include Walter Smith, head of the nonprofit public policy organization DC Appleseed; Jeffery Humber, past chairman of the board of the Washington Convention Center Authority; Rod Woodson, a lobbyist who was general counsel to the city's Housing Finance Agency; and Brown's campaign manager and chief of staff, Irma Esparza Diggs.
Brown called the news conference the "beginning of a conversation" and repeatedly declined to answer questions about the future structure of the council. When asked whether Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) would retain control of the finance committee, Brown said: "Everything is open. Everything is on the table."
Brown was also asked whether Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who was stripped of his committee chairmanship last spring, would again lead a panel when Brown takes over in January. He replied: "Everyone should be responsible for something - whether that's a committee, a sub-committee or no committee."