Let’s all give three cheers for Rochelle Webb, Mayor Vince Gray‘s nominee to head the Department of Employment Services.
Webb, who just moved to the district after working in Arizona and Texas, more than held her own during a completely ridiculous grilling from Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry today at a council committee hearing. Barry is upset over the fact that Webb’s “executive committee,” which LL believes is her senior leadership team but isn’t 100 percent, is all female.
Barry, who spent much of his speaking time at the hearing commenting on how bad a job former Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s administration had done creating jobs, began his line of questioning by noting that when he was mayor, 51 or 52 percent of his cabinet members were female.
“So I’ve been a strong advocate of women in non-traditional positions,” Barry said. (Why are you laughing, pervert?)
Bonafides established, Barry then went on to express his concern about Webb’s team.
“I know it was not intentional but I wanted to point out to you that I’m a little disturbed that there are no men,” Barry said. Cue patronizing in 3…2…1: “I’m sure that going forward, as positions open up, that you’re going to find some qualified men to fill those position.”
Yikes. Webb tried to respond that she looks for the best candidates regardless of gender, but Barry kept interrupting her, saying: “Dr. Webb, that is unacceptable to me.”
Finally, Webb got a chance to make her point: “You asked for my vision, so let me just say, here it is: I’m looking to transform this agency, which means I’m going to step outside any stereotypical expectations and I will bring in the best, most qualified most competent person to help me lead this transformation, regardless of their race, their ethnicity, or their gender. And that’s called being in compliance with the discrimination laws of this nation.”
In response, Barry threatened to play tattletale.
”Dr. Webb, That is unacceptable to me and the majority of citizens in this city. I’m not going to accept it, and I’m going to tell Mayor Gray that and I don’t think he…” Barry said.
“I think that Mayor Gray is on the same page with me with transformation of this agency,” Webb replied.
“I’m not talking about transformation, I’m talking hiring some men, qualified, in positions. You have nine or ten people in the executive council and not one man, now that is unacceptable to America,” retorted Barry, noted expert on American attitudes on men in the work place.
Barry went on to explain that Webb had the same problem as Fenty did, which basically boils down to this: when you say you are only hiring the most qualified people and then a certain group of people (in this case, men) aren’t hired, then it looks like you don’t think members of that group are qualified.
“That’s how I receive it,” says Barry.
Props should also be awarded to Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who called Barry’s foolishness out on Twitter.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.