December 30, 2010 at 3:06 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Catania turned down on committee assignment

D.C. Council member Kwame Brown (D-At-Large), who becomes Council chair Jan. 2, turned down a request by Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) that he create a new education committee and appoint Catania as chair.

Brown turned down a similar request by Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who, like Catania, had been campaigning behind the scenes for Brown to name her chair of an education panel.

Brown instead decided to follow the course set by his predecessor, Council Chair Vincent Gray, who becomes mayor the same day Brown becomes Council chair. Brown will keep education issues and oversight of the D.C. public school system under the auspices of the Committee of the Whole. And Brown, like Gray, will be chair of that committee, on which all 13 Council members serve.

While a disappointment to Catania, AIDS activists and advocates for health care reform will likely be pleased that Catania will remain chair of the Council’s Committee on Health. Catania, who is gay, has been credited with pushing through sweeping changes in the city’s AIDS office and Department of Health that activists have said have greatly improved the services to people with HIV/AIDS and other health conditions.

In a separate action, Brown reassigned gay Council member Jim Graham (D-At-Large) from his post as chair of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation to become chair of the Committee on Human Services. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who has chaired the Human Services panel, will take over the Public Works and Transportation Committee.

Brown did not say why he made the switch between Graham and Wells. Graham told the Washington Post he is “fine” with the change, saying he comes from a background in human services programs as the former head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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