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D.C. Mayor Gray fires chief of staff

Chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall talked with Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Feb.11.
Chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall talked with Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Feb.11. (The Washington Post)
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At his hastily called evening news conference, Gray was asked whether his meeting with the business leaders had any connection to his firing of Hall. He said it "absolutely" did not factor into his decision.

Instead, Gray said, he decided that it was best for Hall "as a human being" to leave the government to help the administration get back on track.

"There are some things that occurred that we wish would not have happened," said Gray, adding that he has "no plans" for additional staff changes.

Gray announced that Paul A. Quander Jr., deputy mayor for public safety and justice, will serve as interim chief of staff while he searches for a permanent replacement.

Gray this week started rolling back the salaries of most of the city officials whose salaries exceed the cap.

Warren Graves, chief of staff to City Administrator Allen Y. Lew, will be paid $193,125, down from $195,000.

Judy Banks, head of the Department of Human Services, will see her $180,000 salary cut to $179,096. Health Director Mohammad Akhter; Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan; State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley; Wayne M. Turnage, director of the Department of Health Care Finance; Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development; and De'Shawn A. Wright, deputy mayor for education, will also have their pay reduced to $179,096.

But Gray said he will make some exceptions to the cap, including for Lew's $295,000 salary and for Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who makes $275,000.

After the previous salaries were made public, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) announced plans to scrutinize Gray's hiring practices and pay increases.

On Wednesday morning, Hall and Lew were scheduled to testify before the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment to explain how Gray's hiring decisions were made.

Cheh, known as a Gray ally, kicked off an oversight hearing Wednesday by chiding the administration, stating that the D.C. government is not for "self-enrichment."

For most of the morning, Hall sat in the hearing room waiting for her chance to testify while Lew answered Cheh's questions.

But Cheh adjourned the hearing shortly before 2 p.m. and walked up to the mayor's office. She returned about 30 minutes later and informed reporters that she had been told that Hall would not be testifying, and to expect an "important announcement" soon.

"I was expecting a very vigorous session with Ms. Hall," Cheh said. "I was going to be very vigorous in both scope and types of questions I would ask."

Cheh plans to reconvene the hearing Thursday. Gray said Quander will be there to answer questions.

Staff writer Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.


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