Loose Lips

Meet the New Boss, Allen Lew

Allen "git-r-done" Lew, who—barehanded—remodeled the city's schools after building the baseball stadium, the convention center, and a reputation for getting massive projects done on time and on budget, has just been handed the keys to the kingdom. Lew will be Almost Mayor Vince Gray's city administrator, responsible for making sure "the trains run on time," as Gray put it.

In brief comments today at a news conference at the Reeves Center, Lew sounded a lot like what his soon-to-be former boss, Still Mayor Adrian Fenty, sounded like on the campaign trail not so long ago.

"I like lean operations, I like efficient operations, I like thin bureaucracies," said Lew. "We're going to be looking to establish performance standards, I subscribe to a performance relationship with staff, and with contractors and with everyone. We'll be driven by results."

On second thought, he sounds more like former schools boss Michelle Rhee, which is probably why NBC 4's Tom Sherwood was jokingly calling him "the male Michelle Rhee" at the news conference.

Regardless of who he sounds like, Gray probably could have done a lot worse than making a hardass with a strong track record his CA.

But if the wheels fall off for some reason, LL wants to get on record that Lew said he and Gray plan on "having some fun."

Gray also named Gerri Mason Hall, a senior V.P. of H.R. at Sodexo, as his new chief of staff. Hall worked under Gray's confidant Lorraine Green, first at the D.C. Office of Personnel and then at Amtrak.

  • DCDem

    I like performance standards too. However, that isn't a new concept in the public or private workplace. If Lew would revert back to the standards put in place by his prior boss, Mayor Anthony Williams, the citizens will fare just fine under his management of the cities operations. Fenty's style of performance standards was "do as I say" and to hell with the law and what the taxpayers have to say about it. First, Lew AND GRAY need to go back to the summits, a Williams initiative, wherein citizens are in the same room with the mayor's cabinet members giving feedback on upcoming and current city projects. It was transparency at it's best.

    Lew needs to clearly understand that he is going to be under the watchful eye of a nosey GOP Congress who would jump at the chance to take financial authority away from Gray, the Council and the citizens. We have state and local government responsibilities and firing folks, after the Fenty slashing, will make service delivery even more challenging. If he is contemplating privitizing city services, to satisfy his private sector mega contractor buddies, of which he has worked with a great deal lately, he should think again. We need a solid Contracts and Procurement Director who is sensitive to the needs of local small businesses and their fiscal impact on the local ecomony.

    I'm sitting patiently, but watching closely. I don't know much about Lew, except for the praise that the press lavishes him with, which is always suspect.

  • DC Voter

    Well, he'll have big shoes to fill. John Koskinen is one of the most capable people ever but unfortunatley for Mr. Lew he is following ol' DL Neal Albert who has been a disaster on every level. I'll bet he finds a real mess but at least Jair Lynch has gotten fatter.

  • DCDem is in La La Land

    If the DC OCP Director needs to be sensitive to the needs of local small businesses, then local small business leaders need to stop cutting corners and provide the citizens of the District a quality product.

    Small business leaders like to cry foul when it comes to dealing with the District when they should be looking in the mirror first when it comes to the quality of work they provide. Small businesses, especially contractors, think the District has an open checkbook and will accept poor quality and craftsmanship. Those days are over.

  • Nobody Special in DC

    Congratulations to the hardest working, most honest man in DC government - Allen Lew.

    If you didn't know who he was before today - you do now.
    Be prepared for a new DC.

    So, attention all DC.gov slackers - Shape up, or ship out.

    DCDEM - Watch and learn. The praise he has earned is most deserved. You might just see him in the Mayor's office in 4 years.

  • linda

    I have concerns that Allen Lew is the Peter Nicles of contracting. Yes the stadium was built in record time, but building permits were not even obtained until the construction was substantially completed--so no inspections were done. I was disturbed to walk into my child's school to see a building permit--issued by Lew posted (he has no such authority) for work that required lead hazard controls. No controls were present and the work was conducted while students were at the school. Fast is not always best, we are starting to see structural problems at the renovated schools and teh ballpark and just sloppy work. One of the problems that came up during the election in a newly renovated school was that teh electrical outlets in the gym did not work, hence no place to plug in machines. Another gem of a school has had to have roof repairs every year since contruction was completed, resulting in 2 replacements of the gym floor and this summer it had to be done twice since the first time it was done wrong.

  • Julius

    @DC Dem: Agreed 100%

  • Drez

    I've seen Lew work. He's always delivered. He's 100% the real deal.
    And I've been (and continue to be) a Fenty fan.
    But Lew as CA might just might make me a Gray fan.
    Warm and fuzzy is great if you have the luxury of time. But at the end of the day i just want to get the job done. And Lew does that.

  • http://looselips Tony

    Allen Lew will never become mayor of D.C.! What is Lew's hiring record with black contractors? It is not very shiny.

  • Anothernative

    I don't know much about Mr. Lew, but from what I can see he seems very competent, I agree with DC Voter that John Koskinen was the best we've had and if Mr. Lew is even in that ballpark he will bring some needed vigor to the table. I've got my fingers crossed.

  • DCCommish

    John Koskinen was the Best!

  • Sherry

    Oh, please. Projects transferred under the Fenty regime from DPR and OPEFM are behind schedule and over budget.

  • DC Watchdog

    Linda (Argo!!?)you have your facts wrong. The permit (actually it is a Work Authorization) issued is under the authority of A. Lew/OPEFM. That is a management tool to ensure maintenance repair, or construction work is performed safely and is assesed for the presence of hazardous materials before work starts. School based personel will not allow workers to engage in work activities without the clearance from the Environmental Health and Safety Office within OPEFM that the stated scope of work can be completed without disturbing any hazardous materials. When assessed and it is determined that hazardous materials would be desturbed to complete the stated scope of work, the hazmat is abated in accordance with EPA regulations. I would thing as a parent you would be happy about the extra safety percautions taken to ensure your childs well being at school.