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OK, this is the last post on l’affaire Sulaimon LL will write this week, promise (unless of course Sulaimon Brown does something extremely newsworthy tomorrow, like this guy).
But LL’s brain is still itching with a question that arose after interviewing Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh for his weekly column: Is it possible that Brown was promised a job, but Mayor Vince Gray didn’t know about it?
That’s what Cheh, an ally of the mayor who has been holding hearings into his administration’s hiring practices, believes. “This has all the earmarks of a promise of a job,” concluded Cheh after overseeing hours of testimony and looking through a mountain of internal emails.
But when LL asked Cheh who exactly would have promised Brown a job, she said she doesn’t know, but she doesn’t think it would have been the mayor or that he would have known about it.
(The Gray Team has always maintained that Brown was promised an interview and nothing more; former Chief of Staff Gerri Mason Hall testified that she placed Brown in an $110,000-a-year auditor’s position because Brown was always hanging around and bothering the mayor, and she wanted to remove that distraction. Brown says Gray campaign and transition chairwoman Lorraine Green met with him at the mayor’s request and told Brown his request for a job in a future Gray administration was “doable.” Green denies this.)
But what about Gray’s reputation as a micro-manager, who has spent much of his political career working longer hours at the Wilson Building than almost anyone else? Does that conflict with the idea that Gray wouldn’t have known about Brown being promised an job? Not at all, says Cheh, adding that Gray’s reputation for getting into the weeds has more to do with him being a policy and budget wonk, not because of his H.R. meddling.
That certainly could be. No one can be aware of all things on a campaign as big as Gray’s mayoral race.
But here’s a few things worth considering: Gray knew well before his administration started that Brown was promised something. “You know as well as I do that. . . we did not renege on any commitments to you. You know and we know what agreements had been reached. And none has been breached,” Gray, or someone using Gray’s cell phone, texted Brown in November. “I have told you and Lorraine has told you we intend to carry out our commitment,” Gray, or someone using Gray’s phone, texted Brown in December.
And not too long ago, Gray didn’t delegate personnel matters and took them “very seriously.” Lorraine Green got an email from a Gray supporter in early November complaining of being shut out from a transition team. Green wrote back asking for patience while personnel decisions about who would serve on what transition team. “[Gray] has not delegated this responsibility and takes it very seriously.”
(Green also testified last week that Gray set the win bonuses for some, but not all of his, campaign workers who got paid extra after the election. But yesterday at a news conference, Gray said he knew nothing about win bonuses until long after they were paid. “I played no role in who got them or what they got,” said Gray, before he quickly shut down any more questions on the matter.)
Conclusion time: was Brown promised a job? More and more people are thinking that way. Did Gray know about it? Not necessarily. But maybe.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery