When Anita Bonds signed on last summer to run the mayor's office of community affairs, her hiring was viewed as the best evidence yet that Anthony A. Williams (D) is seriously thinking about running for reelection.
Six months later, Bonds is gone from the director's post. The veteran community activist and political organizer was booted last week after a dispute with Williams's chief of staff, Alfreda Davis, according to sources close to the mayor.
Neither Bonds nor Davis returned calls about the matter. Mayoral spokesman Sharon Gang said only that Bonds, who has worked for the city off and on since 1979, had not been fired outright.
"Anita Bonds is still working in the executive office of the mayor. We're making some internal staffing shifts to best utilize our resources," Gang said.
Gang declined to say who had replaced Bonds in what will be a critical role if Williams indeed decides to seek a third term in 2006. Sources said Davis has appointed a recent hire from the Kerry presidential campaign to the post. In addition to directing community affairs, Henry Stewart -- who led Kerry's outreach to black churches -- would continue to handle requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, said an aide in the Office of Community Affairs.
Asked to confirm Stewart's new assignment, Gang demurred. "I guess I can't say," she said.
Sparring Over House Vote
Elected statehood lobbyist Ray Browne (D) challenged D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Tuesday to support a pending proposal to expand the House temporarily from 435 to 437 seats, including a voting representative from the District for the first time.
Making an annual report to the D.C. Council, Browne, the District's "shadow" U.S. representative, lodged an extraordinary direct criticism of House Democratic leaders for failing to endorse the proposal, as the mayor and council have done.
"Washington, D.C., is the most Democratic city in the country and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Mrs. Norton and Leader Pelosi are not actively behind the . . . bill," Browne said. "This is the only opportunity we will have over the next few years to gain a voting representative in Congress."
Browne said that if the proposal does not move forward, "it will be a long time before we have another opportunity."
The plan is sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). In addition to the District seat, his bill would add a fourth member to Utah's delegation. The House would revert to 435 seats after reapportionment for the 2012 election, but the District would retain its seat. The District is overwhelmingly Democratic. Utah is nearly as Republican.
Browne said Utah's sole Democrat in the House, Rep. Jim Matheson, supports the bill. "What else will it take to get Mrs. Norton and Leader Pelosi on board? . . . I was elected for only one reason: to get voting representation for D.C. residents in the U.S. Congress. And, in my best judgment, the Davis bill is a great start in that direction. It is not perfect, but we should not sacrifice the good for the perfect."
Pelosi last month said she opposes expanding the House and noted that the Republicans had the votes to pass the Davis bill on their own. Republicans have enraged Democrats by waging several mid-census redistricting battles to pad their majority, notably in Texas.
Norton has said that there is "no chance" that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) would allow a floor vote. She said Utah's senior Republican House member, Rep. Chris Cannon, has observed that the state would gain only a temporary benefit.