Former Md. housing secretary tapped for key D.C. economic development post

Victor Hoskins speaks at a 2004 groundbreaking ceremony in McHenry, Md., with former governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr.
Victor Hoskins speaks at a 2004 groundbreaking ceremony in McHenry, Md., with former governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (File photo: AP)
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 21, 2011; 9:44 PM

Mayor Vincent C. Gray tapped the former Maryland secretary of housing and community development Friday to be the District's deputy mayor for planning and economic development - a coveted post that has been revised to focus on matching jobs to development projects.

Victor L. Hoskins, 53, a Chicago native who has worked in Los Angeles and Baltimore, has been vice president of Quadel Consulting, a District-based firm that creates and implements affordable-housing initiatives, since 2009. Hoskins, who served in the administration of Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), said in an interview that he has a long record of economic and jobs development, even though housing is prominent on his resume.

Gray (D) made the announcement Friday during a news conference at which he also said he had chosen Gertrude Stein Democratic Club President Jeffrey Richardson to head the Office of Gay Lesbian and Transgender Affairs. Gray also promoted Phillip A. Lattimore III, a general counsel in the Office of the Attorney General, to oversee the Office of Risk Management.

An investigation last year found that the workers' compensation agency had failed to transfer $3 million to $6 million deducted from the paychecks of 1,400 city employees to insurance companies to pay their premiums. "It is a mess," Gray said during the news conference.

Lattimore said that as general counsel, he was part of the investigation. Asked about whether the probe found evidence of fraud, Lattimore said: "We made no conclusions. We referred the matter to the inspector general."

However, Lattimore, who has worked in the attorney general's office since 2006, said he wants to computerize operations so that contractors are paid correctly and plans to tackle the "heavy case-loads" of adjusters.

While Lattimore came from inside the government and Richardson is well known in local politics, Hoskins's selection surprised many.

The search for a planning and economic development chief may have been complicated because of uncertainty about how the job would change under Gray. During the mayoral campaign, Gray repeatedly said he would expand the deputy mayor's role beyond the management of real estate projects to include workforce development.

As a result, several local leaders with expertise in real estate, planning and job training were considered for the job, including Emily Durso, former president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.; Ellen McCarthy, director of planning under Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D); and Milton Bailey, former director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development.

Under Gray's predecessor as mayor, Adrian M. Fenty (D), the agency took over the operations of two quasi-government development organizations - the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. and the National Capital Revitalization Corp. On Friday, Gray said that he supported Fenty's changes but that he had doubts he shared with the former mayor.

The agencies will be revived to oversee the city's largest planned developments, such as the east campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the campus of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the site of the former McMillan Reservoir.

But the new economic development chief faces a dearth of financing options for many of the city's major projects, thanks to a borrowing cap that limits the city's ability to issue new bonds.

Hoskins, who has homes in the District and Baltimore County, said he'll look at all issues when he begins next month.

Fenty had scaled back the number of deputy mayors to two - one for education and one for planning and economic development. Gray has also revived the deputy mayor model of government and also added deputy mayors for public safety and justice as well as for health and human services.

He nominated De'Shawn Wright, a former senior adviser to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, as the education deputy mayor. Paul A. Quander Jr.√, former executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, is overseeing public safety.

The search for a deputy mayor for health and human services continues.

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