Loose Lips

Gray Spokeswoman’s Final Spin

Mayor Vince Gray's spokeswoman Linda Wharton Boyd was given the old heave-ho today. Boyd is being sent off to the Department of Health to make way for a new (and $40,000-a-year cheaper) communications director, Pedro Ribeiro.

Boyd's departure isn't much of a surprise. Since taking over in late August, new chief-of-staff Chris Murphy has taken an active role in trying to shape the coverage of the mayor and win over prickly Washington Post opinion writers (LL will have more on that another day). Boyd, meanwhile, hasn't always found herself in the loop.

And while the Gray administration won't publicly say so, the move is a sign that Gray is trying to distance himself from the old—Boyd was former Mayor-for-life Marion Barry's communications director—and align himself with the new. Ribeiro's last gig was for a California Congresswoman. He's lived in the District for a decade, but hasn't been involved in local politics.

We'll see how that turns out. For her part, Boyd marked her departure as any good flack would do: with some spin. "I wanted to share the good news with you," Boyd writes in an email to the District government's small army of public information officers detailing her demotion. "It is a wonderful opportunity that speaks to one of my passions, and I look forward to beginning that work in January."

And so on:

From: Wharton-Boyd, Linda (EOM)
Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2011 7:12 PM
To: PIO (EOM)
Subject: Appreciation to you!!

Dear D.C. Government Communication Professionals,

I wanted to share the good news with you. At the end of this year, I will be transitioning from my role as Director of Communications to a new position as the Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning  and Communications to Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director of the D.C. Department of Health. I will be working to aggressively push forward the Mayor’s health agenda through various high-profile special projects. It is a wonderful opportunity that speaks to one of my passions, and I look forward to beginning that work in January .

It has been an exciting and eventful year working in the Gray Administration. My work with you all as a citywide communications team has definitely been one of the highlights of my tenure in this position. The District government is blessed with a cadre of skilled and highly committed individuals in public-information-officer roles, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with so many of you on special projects – like the State of the District Address, the Mayor’s Budget Media Blitz and Town Hall Meetings, the One City Summer Fun program, the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial Dedication, our Media Skills Development Institute, citywide social media, etc., etc., etc. Heck, I even enjoyed working through an earthquake and Hurricane Irene!

While I look forward to continuing to have opportunities to work with many of you in my new role, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for working with me in implementing the Mayor’s agenda to serve the residents of the District of Columbia. As I like to say, teamwork makes the dream work!

I hope you’ll continue to offer your expert help to Doxie, Rob, Alimayu, Lateef, the new communications director and the rest of the Executive Office of the Mayor Office of Communications as we continue to serve our Mayor, our residents and our city with excellence.

With gratitude for your partnership,

Linda

  • dchillrat

    So she gets the month of December off? Sweet gig for only working less than a year.

  • Skipper

    Long overdue!

  • One that cares
  • The Corner

    Is the Department of Health the dumping ground for the Mayor's office? This was the case with Fenty, it's certainly been the case with Gray. Technically, Sulaimon went to Healthcare finance, but my point stays. Public Health is a large % of the DC budget. Why put people with less than stellar track records in charge?

    Boyd was loyal to the Mayor. Does "loyalty" trump "competence?" Gray's communications office (which Boyd led) was humbled by the DC Press Corps on a weekly basis. With all that experience the ball was constantly dropped like an ill-prepared rookie during a playoff game. Things got so bad that Boyd emailed her staff asking they not speak to the Washington Post(!), which became a real embarrassment when the newspapers FOIA'd the emails and published them. While on the subject of competence, what "communications director" emails controversial policy decisions in a public and FOIA-able email account? Even Sarah Palin's people knew to do their "dirty work" via the non-FOIA-able Yahoo.

    Communications and senior staff issues derailed the Mayor's office and overshadowed his entire list of accomplishments for almost a year. There's now a chance for redemption. With all the old guard out of the office there's no one left to blame for future "missteps."

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