A dispute within the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty about regulatory enforcement has led to the departure of the city’s leading official for constituent services. Merrit Drucker, director of community relations and services, submitted his resignation March 21 and will leave the government on Friday, according to Drucker.
Drucker ran an office that follows up on complaints from residents on neighborhood problems and breakdowns in city services. He earned a reputation as an energetic go-getter as Mayor Anthony A. Willliams‘ clean city coordinator. Fenty’s appointment of Drucker to the community-services post was seen as a step up for the hard-driving manager.
During his brief tenure, Drucker championed the use of an aggressive city code enforcement regimen called Operation Fight Back, a multi-agency regulatory sweep first instituted by Williams in 2003. It seemed like an approach custom-made for Fenty, who has long been a stickler for using government tools to tackle quality-of-life problems.
But not everyone was happy with the hard-line approach, including some business owners and Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham.
When asked whether the lack of backing for his regulatory posture played a role in his decision to leave his post, Drucker replied, “Yes. I think I’ll just leave it at that.”
Another sticking point relates to Drucker’s work space. According to sources, Fenty ordered Drucker’s eight ward outreach coordinators to centralize their activities in Fenty’s “bullpen” at the John A. Wilson Building. Drucker wanted them to remain in the field, as they’d been under Williams.
Drucker says he mostly ignored the petty squabbling that is part of the D.C. government landscape. “I tried to stay out of the politics the best I could,” he says, but wouldn’t elaborate.