Thursday, Mayor-elect Vincent Gray announced four appointees to lead his efforts to improve public safety in the District. Current Police Chief Cathy Lanier will remain in her position, Irvin Nathan is nominated to become Attorney General, Sarasota Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe is the appointee to head D.C. Fire and EMS and Paul A. Quander, Jr. will assume the re-established position of Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. All but Quander will need to be confirmed by the District Council.
The biggest challenge to the proposed appointees may come for Ellerbe, who faced tough questioning during a press conference Thursday for his 2009 attempt to maintain his position in the D.C. Fire and EMS while working in FL so he could collect a pension from the District. Ellerbe said he resigned from his position in the District and has not collected any pension benefits. Gray said Ellerbe "operated with integrity" during the review of the Personnel Exchange Agreement that allowed him to serve in FL and still be eligible for a D.C. pension.
Ellerbe was sworn in as Chief in Sarasota, FL in August 2009, but continues to claim Homestead Tax Exemptions on a property he owns in Ward 7 in D.C. When challenged on this claim, Ellerbe and Gray both said the tax exemption would not be claimed in the 2010 taxes, however reporters argued that such an exemption is not part of the normal income tax filings and is a matter of contacting the Records of Deeds in the District. Ellerbe said when he files his taxes this year, he will make sure everything is in order.
Current Police Chief Cathy Lanier admitted to reporters that it would be a "challenge" to continue the progress she has achieved given the budgetary constraints of the District. Gray said "citizens still expect us to deliver" ad that his team would have to figure out a way to make that happen. Lanier said she "walked away feeling comfortable" from a conversation with Gray about their plans for the future of public safety in the District. Lanier lives in Ward 5.
Irvin Nathan, the appointee for Attorney General, has a "sterling reputation," according to Gray. Nathan is currently the General Council to the U.S. House of Representative and has worked in the private sector as an attorney at Arnold & Porter, where he focused on white collar crime. He lives in Ward 3.
Quander is currently the executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Quander's role will be one of coordination to make sure public safety policies are applied appropriately across agencies and that agencies are "working together effectively" said Gray. Quander lives in Ward 7.