The D.C. Council voted 9 to 3 to confirm Lori M. Lee, a family friend of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), to be one of three members on the Public Service Commission.
The mayor recently withdrew Lee from consideration to head the commission after residents, some council members, environmentalists and utility experts questioned whether she was qualified to run utility the watchdog panel.
Fenty decided to nominate her as a member only and picked longtime commission member and former council member Betty Ann Kane to be the commission's chairman, which the council also approved today in a voice vote.
Council members Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) were the dissenters on the Lee nomination. Both Cheh and Mendelson said utilities and energy issues required expertise that Lee does not have while Brown said he was swayed by concerns of environmentalists. D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who was expected to return to work today after a kidney transplant, was absent.
But Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said there is nothing in the law requiring a member to be an "expert" in a subject. "If we, as a council, are going to now require new standards not existing in the law, then we have to go beyond the Public Service Commission," he said. "She can learn this."