“I think you want some fresh faces, some fresh eyes on the business of government,” Gray said in an interview. “They’re not newcomers. They’re just newcomers to D.C. government.”
Gray said he expects to announce the appointments Tuesday.
It’s been five months since Gray fired Gerri Mason Hall, his first chief of staff, who was caught up in the allegations of nepotism and cronyism that bogged down his administration early on. Last week, a D.C. Council committee report concluded that Gray was “essentially disconnected” from hiring decisions and that his lack of attention had had a profoundly negative affect on the reputation of city government.
Gray said he met Murphy several years ago when they were both running nonprofit organizations. Gray was executive director of Covenant House, which works with homeless young people, and Murphy was founder and executive director of City Year, an offshoot of the AmeriCorps program. “Chris is a good administrator,” Gray said. “He’s someone I know well and feel comfortable with.”
The mayor said he knew Pringle only by reputation, but that Steve McMahon and Ron Lester, consultants who worked on Gray’s mayoral campaign, recommended her. “Andi is someone with a lot of credibility. She’s really good with people,” Gray said.
Neither Pringle nor Murphy responded to requests for comment before the announcement.
Murphy will replace Paul A. Quander Jr., deputy mayor for public safety and justice, who has been pulling double duty as interim chief of staff.
In the interview, Gray acknowledged that his goals for the city — accelerating public education reform, public safety, job creation and fiscal responsibility — have not been adequately communicated to the public. “We want to have an even more grass-roots engagement,” he said, adding that one of his new efforts will be meeting with the chairmen of neighborhood advisory commissions on a quarterly basis.
Promise of change
Gray won office last year on a promise of change, pledging to end cronyism and to restore confidence in government. But almost as soon as he entered office, his administration was plagued by personnel problems — and hit with accusations of hypocrisy.
Gray began talking privately to McMahon and Lester about how to restructure his administration. Mo Elleithee and Andrew Kennedy, who also worked on his campaign, were enlisted in the conversation as well.
Among the personnel issues were allegations by former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown, who claimed that he was promised a job and paid for disparaging Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the campaign trail last year. The council committee found that Brown had been paid and was promised a job but found no evidence that Gray was aware of the infractions. The FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and a congressional committee are investigating Brown’s accusations.