DC Wire reports today that the new Council Chairman, Kwame Brown, has replaced Jack Evans (Ward 2) as Chair Pro Tem with Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3), a largely ceremonial position that Evans, as the longest serving member, has held for 12 years. One might think that loss of the #2 title marks a power shift, since Evans supported Fenty while Brown and Cheh supported Gray in his mayoral bid. Evans himself mulled over running against Brown for Chair. While Evans did not get take an official position in the race after he bowed out, Evans' former campaign and council communication director, Sean Metcalf, led Vincent Oranges' campaign for the position.
But Brown has apparently named Evans as co-chair of the committee that will oversee redistricting in the wake of the 2010 census, along with At-large Councilmember Michael Brown. Ward 2, as an area of the city that experienced a modest increase in population, could lose some of its territory to shrinking Ward 1 or gain back some area of quickly growing Ward 6. As chair of the Committee, Evans will be in a position to ensure that his new boundaries, and future electability, are to his liking. Brown also gave Evans oversight over the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, and he will continue to chair the powerful Committee on Finance and Revenue, the equivalent to Congress's Appropriations Committee.
The Post suggests that in giving Evans power over redistricting and WCSA, Brown gave him "an apparent consolation prize" for losing chair pro tem, which it calls a "stinging setback." So wrong.
Continued chairmanship of Finance, added oversight of WCSA (the sports issues Evans absolutely loves -- can we build another stadium for the Redskins right now?), and he gets to redraw the political boundaries throughout the city in his favor (and bank political IOUs from his colleagues) in exchange for giving up a ceremonial title? Sounds more like Cheh received a small reward for her risk in supporting Gray in predominantly pro-Fenty Ward 3, and Evans, from whom Kwame will want support to effectively lead the Council, got a coup.
Also noted by the Post is that Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) will take oversight of WMATA, replacing Councilmember Jim Graham. It's a somewhat thankless position that is shared with representatives from Maryland, Virginia, and the federal government, but obviously a very important one. Councilmember Michael Brown, who has missed at least 52 board meetings since appointed, will apparently continue to serve as the other DC member.