Fenty Nominee Questioned on Plagiarism

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and member Jim Graham confer during Victor Reinoso's confirmation hearing. (Photos By Pouya Dianat -- The Washington Post)
By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Victor A. Reinoso, the acting D.C. deputy mayor for education, declined yesterday to say whether he wrote the plagiarized report that has put an embarrassing mark on his six-month tenure.

Reinoso cited legal advice for the refusal as he appeared before the D.C. Council, which will vote July 10 on whether to confirm his appointment to deputy mayor for education -- one of several positions created as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has taken the helm of public education.

Last month, Reinoso, a 38-year-old former Board of Education member, took the blame for copying whole passages from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system's strategic plan when drafting a 31-page report for the D.C. system.

The incident dominated the seven-hour public meeting. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) grew increasingly frustrated as he asked Reinoso whether someone else wrote the document. "You're under oath," Graham said, demanding a direct answer.

Reinoso repeated what he had said earlier: "I take full responsibility.

"The final product is mine, and I have to own it as mine," he added.

After D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) called Reinoso's testimony "increasingly evasive," Reinoso said the general counsel had advised him not to comment.

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), however, later continued to press Reinoso. "You're going to mess around on this legalism and get derailed here," he said.

In an interview, Reinoso declined to say whether he thought his silence would hurt his chances to be confirmed. Reinoso stumbled more than a few times yesterday as the council raised controversial issues.

Barry criticized Reinoso for having one black man on his staff of 13 -- highlighting a growing concern of some city leaders that the Fenty administration has failed to place African Americans in high-profile positions in a majority-black city.

Reinoso struggled to offer specifics on the race and gender of his staff and said he does not count his employees that way.

"You better start counting. The voters count," Barry said.

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