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Bowser resubmits nomination of gay businessman

Franco up for spot on Zoning Commission

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Best of Gay D.C.

Mayor Bowser has nominated David Franco for a seat on the city’s Zoning Commission. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For the third time since last May, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Feb. 10 submitted the name of gay businessman and real estate developer David Franco to the D.C. Council for confirmation for a seat on the city’s Zoning Commission.

Similar to the first two submissions, most Council observers expect Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) to continue to block the nomination from proceeding to a hearing and vote by the full Council.

Mendelson told the Washington Blade last September he’s concerned that Franco’s role as principal owner of the real estate development firm Level 2 Development raises the perception that he would have a pro-development bias rather than a neutral stance on development-related issues before the commission.

Franco, who also owns the D.C. retail clothing store Universal Gear, has said he would recuse himself from any zoning matter that involves Level 2 Development. He has also said his knowledge and experience in the development business would enable him to provide an important perspective for the commission in a fair and impartial way.

But Mendelson has said Franco’s appointment would create a “troubling dynamic” on the Zoning Commission, which, among other things, regulates the size and density of buildings and development projects.

In her previous two submissions of Franco’s nomination, Bowser withdrew the nomination one day before a 90-day deadline set by D.C. law for Council approval of nominations for boards and commissions, according to Mendelson aide Evan Cash. Under that law, a nomination automatically is deemed to be “disapproved” if the Council doesn’t act on it within the 90-day period.

In her Feb. 10 submission letter, Bowser told Mendelson “a majority of the Council supports a hearing to allow Mr. Franco to present his qualifications.”

Similar to the two previous submissions, Franco’s nomination was sent to the Council’s Committee of the Whole, which Mendelson chairs. Cash, the committee’s staff director, told the Blade on Wednesday that no hearing has been scheduled for the Franco nomination and he is unaware of plans by Mendelson to schedule a hearing.

In a Feb. 16 memorandum sent to all Council members, Council Secretary Nyasha Smith said Franco’s nomination would be declared “disapproved on Thursday, May 26, 2016 without Council approval.”

“I am honored that Mayor Bowser continues to believe I should serve on the Zoning Commission and I welcome an opportunity to address my qualifications at a hearing, if and when it is scheduled,” Franco said in a statement on Wednesday.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. AERzondzinska

    March 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Last time you ran an article on this nominee, the title insinuated that the Chair was blocking the nominee because he’s gay. Glad to see you didn’t continue to beat that dead horse.

    Incidentally, the ZC already tacks to the developers’ perspective. What’s needed is a corrective.

    • Brian's Ions

      March 4, 2016 at 12:34 am

      What utter nonsense. Mendelson’s UN-democratic and unfair obstructionism of this gay nominee– is yet another bold demonstration of this Council’s willingness to give blatant homophobic discrimination and homophobic lies by its own members a pass.

      • AERzondzinska

        March 4, 2016 at 9:44 am

        What utter nonsense.

        • Brian's Ions

          March 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

          Yeah. I get it.

          A number of folks are finding it hard to articulate a cogent argument in defense of the Mendo Council’s persistent tolerance of, and drift to homophobic lies and discrimination.

          Jack Evans is right. In lots of ways, this DC Council may be among the worst ever.

  2. Jack Brent

    March 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Pay-To-Play FRESH PAC Nominee! Dump Him!

  3. Brian's Ions

    March 4, 2016 at 12:57 am

    What a dreadful, dangerous homophobic bigot Phil Mendelson has become.

    Mendo’s refusal to grant this mayor’s gay nominee a fair hearing and a fair up or down vote is blatant homophobic discrimination on its face. It is comparable to the bold, racist discrimination directed against President Obama by Senator Mitch McConnell’s promised blocking of *ANY* Scalia replacement before a new president is elected.

    Mendelson’s and Kenyan McDuffie’s continued slashing of MPD’s sworn police force level– and their resultant cutbacks of Community Policing services for DC’s LGBT residents and visitors (including LGBTLU/GLLU)– is yet another reason to vote these two dangerous homophobic hypocrites off the Council.

    Then there is Mendelson’s support for McDuffie’s secretive scam to reward DC’s young violent criminals $9,000 a pop if they don’t commit any more crimes for a year. Of course than encourages teenagers who have never committed violent crimes to do so.

    Using a homophobic lie to the entire Council to sell his scam, McDuffie claimed his extortion-by-bribery plan is patterned after a similar ‘successful’ extortion/reward-for-criminals plan in Richmond, CA.

    But McDuffie– who apparently holds a teenage grudge against DC’s police department (MPD)– intentionally ignored the widely acknowledged credit that most knowledgeable observers have given to Richmond’s openly gay former Police Chief Chris Magnus (now, Tucson, AZ’s chief)– for that city’s homicide reduction due to Magnus’ robust Community Policing program.

    Council Chair Mendelson (and other members of Council) have let McDuffie get away with that blatant homophobic LIE, too.

    Here’s the truth (no thanks to Sneaky Kenyan McDuffie) of how Richmond CA’s gay police chief turned its homicide rate around with REAL Community policing…
    http://news.yahoo.com/richmond-california-police-chief-chris-magnus-talks-community-policing-in-katie-couric-interview-044448393.html

    Meet Council’s New Crooks. Same as the Old Council’s Crooks?

    Not surprisingly, after using a homophobic lie to sell his unproven (anywhere) scheme, Kenyan McDuffie now wants to keep his $9,000-a-criminal extortion/ bribery SCAM away from public scrutiny…

    WASHINGTON CITY PAPER/ LooseLips/ 1 March 2016
    **McDuffie Tries to Keep Reports on Anti-Crime Program Secret**

    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/looselips/2016/03/01/mcduffie-tries-to-keep-reports-on-anti-crime-program-secret/

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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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Equality Virginia announces new executive director

Narissa Rahaman will succeed Vee Lamneck

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Narissa Rahaman (Photo courtesy of Equality Virginia)

Equality Virginia on Saturday announced Narissa Rahaman will be the organization’s new executive director.

Rahaman, who was previously the Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Regional Campaign Director, will succeed outgoing Executive Director Vee Lamneck on Feb. 2. Rahaman was born in Barbados and raised in Florida.

“Narissa also has 10+ years of experience in long-term strategic planning, multi-state organizing efforts, coalition management, and staff development, which make her an exceptional individual for the role of executive director,” said Equality Virginia in its announcement. “We are confident that under her leadership, the organization’s success and impact will continue to flourish as will our commitment to racial justice.”

Equality Virginia announced Rahaman will succeed Lamneck on the same day that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office amid concerns he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia.

Equality Virginia’s annual lobby day will take place virtually on Jan. 25. The organization’s annual Commonwealth Dinner is scheduled to take place in Richmond on March 26.

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Glenn Youngkin sworn in as Va. governor

Republican backed teacher who opposed trans student guidelines

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at his swearing in in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 15, 2022 (YouTube screenshot)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Saturday amid concerns that he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in the state.

“Today we gather not as individuals, not as Republicans and Democrats,” said Youngkin after his swearing in. “Today we gather as Virginians.”

Former Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are among those who attended the ceremony that took place at the State Capitol. Terry McAuliffe, who Youngkin defeated in the general election, did not attend because of a COVID-19 scare.

Youngkin during his campaign against McAuliffe expressed support for Tanner Cross, a gym teacher at a Leesburg elementary school who was suspended from his job after he spoke out against Virginia Department of Education guidelines that are designed to protect transgender and non-binary students. Youngkin has also said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Youngkin on Thursday named Elizabeth Schultz, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Fairfax County School Board, to his administration.

“We will remove politics from the classroom and focus on the essentials,” said Youngkin in his inaugural speech, without specifically mentioning LGBTQ students.

He added “parents should have a say in what is taught in schools.”

Youngkin has also expressed his opposition to marriage equality, but stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and would “support that” as governor.

Lieutenant Gov. Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares also took office on Saturday.

Winsome, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, is the first woman and first female of color elected lieutenant governor. Miyares, a former House member whose mother was born in Cuba, is Virginia’s first Latino attorney general.

Youngkin in his inaugural speech noted “the people of Virginia just elected the most diverse leadership” in the state’s history. Youngkin’s first executive order ends “the use of” so-called “critical race theory” (which is not taught in Virginia schools) and other “divisive concepts” in Virginia’s public schools.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Wednesday.

Republicans control the House by a 52-48 margin. Democrats have a 21-19 edge in the Virginia Senate.

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