Housing Complex

Cabinet Shakeup for Gray as Lame-Duck Period Begins

Nicholas Majett is leaving the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Nicholas Majett is leaving the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Mayor Vince Gray began his nine-month lame-duck period following his primary defeat last week with a cabinet shakeup that will see the departure of head of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the arrival of a new director of the Office of Planning.

Nicholas Majett, who has been with DCRA since 2006 and headed the department since 2011, is leaving his position, although his future plans could not be confirmed. "We can confirm that Director Majett is moving on to pursue another opportunity, but no further details are available about that at this time," DCRA spokesman Matt Orlins says in an email.

Meanwhile, on Friday evening, the mayor's office announced that Ellen McCarthy would be taking over the Office of Planning. McCarthy, who held the same position under Mayor Anthony Williams from 2004 to 2007, succeeds her successor, Harriet Tregoning, who left the D.C. government in February to work for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Most recently, McCarthy served as director of planning and land use at the law firm Arent Fox, as a lecturer at Georgetown's urban studies graduate program, and as a private development consultant. She'll start her new job on April 14, and she won't have much time to settle in: That same day, the Office of Planning will go before the D.C. Council for a budget hearing.

“Ellen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in planning to the Office of Planning at a critical and exciting time in the District of Columbia,” Gray said in a statement. “She is excited about continuing to help the District grow and become even more vibrant while respecting the city’s rich history and unique character.”

It's unclear if Gray's likely successor, Muriel Bowser, would keep McCarthy on in the role, meaning she could just be in for a nine-month stint. Still, it wouldn't be an uneventful one: The Office of Planning is working to shepherd a comprehensive (and controversial) update to the city's 1958 zoning code through the Zoning Commission, among other projects.

Photo by Lydia DePillis

  • The Hamburglar

    I always knew that Matt Orlins would stop at nothing to get quoted in the local news.

  • Contractor

    Majett was a good person to have at the helm, folks complained (it's a big important agency), but things were steadily improving. Majett is an excellent manager.

    All dc contractors and developers should be very afraid. Scandal plagued/soon to be indicted (per Jack Evans) Gray wont attract quality talent.

    Folks think Councilmembers wield all the power in this town, but it's really the agency heads who get the work done.... or not.

    The real rats will wait till the very end to jump ship.

    Money is on Abby Smith leaving next. Chaos will ensue.

  • 20002ist

    Good riddance. Majett manifested no real interest in fixing ongoing problems at DCRA. Alas, there's no reason to think the next director will be any different.

  • Tbonebullets

    No one who visits DCRA has a good time there. Except for the "consultants" distributing bribes to get things done. But at least things eventually get done, some of the time, which is better than 10 years ago.

  • DCRA

    I've been in the commercial construction business here in DC 1995, and I can say that DCRA has certainly improved over the years. The biggest jump in service was the last year of Williams and the first couple years of Fenty. DCRA is no longer the disgusting, ghetto throwback to the 70's it was. They've invested in the technology, and "generally" the people who work there are ok. Having experienced DCRA in the mid 90's, I would give them a grade of B- now. Not great, but not atrocious.

    However, DCRA can't hold a candle to permitting offices in Fairfax, Arlington, Montgomery County, Loudoun, etc all of which are staffed with efficient, polite and knowledgabe people who do their job.

  • itsjustamess

    Abigail Smith should have left long before Victor Reinoso especially since she was reason the cut-and-paste culprit of the poorly written education plan.

  • itsjustamess

    Correction: was really and unequivocally the

  • joan

    Matt Orlins is hot

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  • Heart of the District

    This is sad in many ways. While I think that Linda Argo will never get the credit she was due at DCRA, her and Majett made it respectable. True there is more work to be done there, but they have grown leaps and bounds. I know some folks want to complain about the agency, but I actually don't mind going down there as much anymore.

    As for DDOT, there has been some great strides and much more to come hopefully. I'm hoping that he simply promotes Jeff Powell as Acting Director. He is a hard worker and he keeps the contractors in line which is important. I think he would be an amazing asset not only for the short term but long term.

  • DC Chick

    I'm looking at how all the reporters are thinking that Bowser is a foregone conclusion for mayor. Mark my words, several life-long Dems are going to jump ship. Hold your nose and vote for the lesser of the two evils. Voters still see her as a Fenty throwback. It's like Bush-Clinton-Bush all over. But Fenty-Gray-Fenty, uh Bowser.

    Don't count Catania out yet. I don't think she's the presumptive nominee. Feel the pulse, WCP. Feel the city's pulse.

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