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The Departments of Real Estate Services, Housing and Community Development, and Transportation are all rather important agencies in Housing Complex’s world (and yours!). And all of them, four and a half months after Vince Gray won his election, are still without permanent directors. Advocates and staff alike have heard not a peep from the administration about who’s in the running, though of course, it could be the interim directors themselves (Brian Hanlon, Robert Trent, and Terry Bellamy respectively). The Mayor’s press shop says the appointments are “on the horizon” and all of them are being “fully vetted.”
By comparison, Adrian Fenty had his DRES and DDOT directors in place by January, though DHCD took until May.
Of course, Vince Gray isn’t Adrian Fenty, and we wouldn’t want him to rush into anything. In large part, these agencies can go about running themselves fairly well, and taking a few months to find the best candidate isn’t the end of the world. But after a while, everything that falls under their jurisdiction starts to suffer from a lack of empowered leadership, as projects stay in holding patterns waiting for direction from the top.
Why so slow, besides Gray’s natural deliberative qualities? Could be lots of reasons—on the DDOT position, for example, Housing Complex heard that some candidates scoffed at the mid-$100K salary. But almost certainly, distraction caused by a certain failed candidate has held things back a bit, on these appointments and other issues requiring mayoral attention. I’ve had agency staffers say they wish they were moving faster on a given priority, and then throw up their hands: “But, you know, stuff.” And we all know what they’re talking about.