Gerri Mason Hall Sacrificed To Gods of Politics
Well, someone had to go, and it wasn't going to be the mayor.
After weeks of embarrassing news that largely stemmed from hiring people with questionable backgrounds and giving jobs to the children of his top aides, Mayor Vince Gray today announced that he had "requested and accepted" the resignation of his chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall. (Paul Quander, previously the deputy mayor for public safety, is now acting chief of staff.)
Gray, speaking this afternoon at the third hastily called news conference of his infant administration (scheduled 20 minutes ahead of time, and only a few hours after a regularly scheduled one), praised Hall as an "outstanding professional" whom he had known for 20 years. He didn't articulate a precise reason why Hall was being shown the door, other than mentioning "issues around personnel."
The mayor also indicated that Hall herself thought it would be best to resign so the administration could move past all the recent "distractions" and "move on."
But can the Wilson Building really move on if Hall isn't the source of all the recent troubles? Sure, Hall has a background in H.R. and should have done a much better job protecting Gray's flank against stupid stuff like getting her kid a city job.
But it'd be foolish and unfair to try and pin all the blame on Hall. Plenty of Gray aides and friends have fallen down on the job, and the big man himself also deserves his fair share of criticism.
"Ultimately, the mayor has to make the decisions," said Gray, who has a reputation of something of a micro-manager.
Gray said he "certainly hopes" that canning Hall will help restore public confidence in his administration, but that seems like a pipe dream.
LL never got the impression that Hall was the driving force behind Gray, which would mean she's not the driving force behind all the screw-ups that have occurred. A political newcomer who was seen as Gray confidante Lorraine Green's eyes and ears at the Wilson Building, Hall seemed like a low-key, behind-the-scenes kind of aide.
She certainly wasn't like Peter Nickles, former Mayor Adrian Fenty's attorney general, who practically ran District government and was frequently called on to resign by Fenty's foes.
Hall seems like a convenient scapegoat for Gray to dump and make a show of turning the page. LL can't precisely identify what the real problem with the Gray administration is yet, but it ain't Hall.