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Tomorrow’s Emancipation Day parade will be the last of its kind. Although the D.C. Council organized and paid for this year’s parade, a budget dispute means control of future Emancipation Day celebrations will be handed over to the mayor’s office, according to Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vince Gray.
“Which makes sense, because that’s why you’ve got an executive branch,” Ribeiro says.
The Gray administration and Council parade organizers, led by At-Large Councilmember and Emancipation Day enthusiast Vincent Orange, were at odds over how the parade would cover $116,000 in city costs related to the events, including $60,000 in police overtime pay. Ribeiro says organizers in Orange’s office revealed that the parade couldn’t cover the costs, despite a $100,000 budget increase last year that brought the Emancipation Day bankroll to $350,000.
In exchange for the executive branch swallowing the costs, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson agreed to hand over control of the events, according to Ribeiro. That’s likely fine with Mendelson, who raised questions last year about the Emancipation Day budget increase.
Staffers for Orange and Mendelson didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment.
Ribeiro says the administration is still looking at how the Council spent its budget this year.
“$350,000 is whole lot of money,” Ribeiro says. “That’s a lot of taxpayer dollars involved there.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery