March 2, 2016 at 5:28 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bowser resubmits nomination of gay businessman
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.

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • What utter nonsense.

        • 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.

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

  • 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…

    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**

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