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There’s a gold rush on in the Wilson Building. The rich vein to be mined: control of the Council’s prestigious economic development portfolio. Our scruffy prospectors: Councilmembers Jack Evans and Vincent Orange.
Facing a swarm of freshmen members but unwilling to break his rule that newbies can’t run committees, Council chairman Phil Mendelson busted up the prestigious economic development committee and the not-so-prestigious government operations committee. Mendelson’s move put up for grabs oversight of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, a plum spot for any ambitious councilmember looking to gobble up campaign contributions.
Or so Orange and Evans thought. Mendelson kept DMPED in his own committee of the whole. Later that same day, Orange blasted Wilson Building denizens with a video of a small business event he organized.
“This is why Vincent Orange should have direct oversight over the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and the Office of Contracting and Procurement,” wrote the at-large councilmember, never shy about the third-person personal.
While Orange wants DMPED for his business and regulatory committee, Evans covets it for his tax and revenue committee. But they teamed up at the Council’s Jan. 2 organizational meeting to level of a host of complaints at vote against Mendelson’s committee plan. The organization was “chaotic,” Evans said.
“You are not providing us the opportunity to exercise our expertise,” griped Orange, who declined to comment to LL about his attempts to get DMPED in his committee.
Asked about their complaints, Mendelson blamed it on the councilmembers’ quest to add DMPED to their portfolios. In the end, only Orange and Evans voted against Mendelson’s committee plan.
“Phil’s not an economic development person,” says Evans, the Council’s most prominent cheerleader of big-ticket projects. “He’s the antithesis of that.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery