- The Washington Times
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mayor Vincent C. Gray Monday introduced his new chief of staff and a deputy to handle community outreach, frankly accepting that early “hits” to his administration besmirched his office ahead of more recent, positive strides.

The new chief of staff, Christopher Murphy, is leaving the Obama administration to join Mr. Gray. He served as deputy chief of staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development after founding City Year Washington, D.C., a nonprofit chapter of the AmeriCorps service program.

Mr. Gray appointed Andrea Pringle, a communications professional who has worked on D.C. political campaigns, as a deputy to improve the administration’s interaction with the public.

Mr. Murphy is the mayor’s first permanent chief of staff since March, when initial pick Gerri Mason Hall was let go amid accusations of nepotism and inflated salaries among Mr. Gray’s political hires.

Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety, had served as interim chief of staff.

Mr. Gray on Monday struck a humbled tone in discussing early missteps that “eroded public faith” in city government and his leadership, yet he highlighted recent successes such as decreased crime, a modernized school system and a summer youth-employment program that finished under budget.

“There’s no question we’ve taken some hits, and some of them are self-inflicted,” Mr. Gray said. “At the end of the day, these are things that occurred on my watch. I recognize that ultimately the buck stops with me, and I accept that responsibility moving forward.”

The mayor said he has known Mr. Murphy for many years, starting with his nonprofit work at City Year.

Mr. Murphy graduated from Harvard University and served in AmeriCorps and as a legislative aide for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy before earning a law degree from Georgetown University.

He was an associate at a private law firm before founding City Year, then served as general counsel for Atlantic Media Company before joining HUD.

Mr. Murphy, who will be paid $179,000 a year, said he was honored to join Mr. Gray “at this critical moment.”

Mr. Murphy told reporters he is invested in the District as a 20-year resident who made his career on Capitol Hill and in other D.C. endeavors. A resident of Chevy Chase in Ward 4, he is married with two young boys in the D.C. Public Schools system.

He made it clear he is keenly aware of initial problems within the Gray team and pledged to conduct a thorough review of the administration.

“The unfortunate, misguided actions of a few have overshadowed the extraordinary work of so many,” Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. Murphy said he is also aware of the allegations made by Sulaimon Brown, a minor 2010 mayoral candidate who says he was paid and promised a job by Mr. Gray’s team to stay in the race and bash incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

Mr. Gray said he has not spoken to federal investigators about the matter, nor was he interviewed by a D.C. Council committee that investigated his personnel practices.

Mr. Murphy said he has not discussed those issues in depth with the mayor.

“The man I saw being portrayed in the media was not the Vince Gray that I knew, and that’s why I’m here,” Mr. Murphy said.

Ms. Pringle has lived in Montgomery County for the past 18 months but noted she lived in the District for most of her life and has numerous contacts in the city.

Ms. Pringle will make $120,000 per year.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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