Mayor Uses Poetic License In Some Of His Hires

By David Nakamura and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 6, 2008

P ierre Vigilance, the District's new health director, has a long list of credentials: graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, ran an HIV-AIDS program in Baltimore, oversaw the health department in Baltimore County.

One thing he doesn't have: a medical license.

Hmm, where have we heard this story before?

When Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) named Linda Singer as the city's attorney general in late 2006, shortly before he took office, some in the legal community scratched their heads. Singer, who had run a nonprofit social service group for a decade, was not a member of the D.C. Bar, primarily because she did not practice law.

A Harvard Law School graduate, she quickly applied for and received her bar license. But she was continually dogged by questions about her competence before resigning in December after butting heads with Peter Nickles, a longtime trial lawyer who was then Fenty's general counsel and is now the acting attorney general.

Last week, Fenty appointed Vigilance to take over the troubled Health Department.

Vigilance, 38, has spent three years as director of Baltimore County's health agency. After he was appointed to that job in 2005, it came to light that his hiring threatened to violate a state requirement that the top health official, or a deputy, must have a medical license. In that case, the dilemma was solved when the county executive appointed a deputy who did have such credentials.

Fenty spokeswoman Carrie Brooks confirmed that Vigilance does not have a license, but stressed that it's not a requirement for the health director position in the District. Brooks said that Carlos Cano, who had been the interim director and will remain in the department, has a license for psychiatry. Shannon Hader, head of the HIV-AIDS program, is licensed in Georgia but is applying for her license in the District once she establishes residency, Brooks said.

Vigilance "is an MD, but not practicing," Brooks wrote in an e-mail. "He did his residency at Howard [University Hospital]. He has been a practicing physician. He just doesn't practice now."

An End Run Around Fenty

Tuesday was H.R. Crawford Day at the John Wilson Building, as D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) showered praise on the former council member and presented him with a resolution.

But it might as well have been Snub Mayor Fenty Day.

H.R. Crawford, who represented Ward 7 from 1980 through 1992, is chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board. No thanks to the mayor.

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