Monday, December 06, 2004

Bush Replaces Outspoken Civil Rights Chair

President Bush on Monday moved to replace Mary Frances Berry, the outspoken chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who has argued with every president since Jimmy Carter appointed her to the panel a quarter century ago. ...

The eight-member panel investigates civil rights complaints and publicizes its findings. It has no enforcement power. Four years ago, Berry and the commission were heavily critical of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for his administration's handling of the disputed presidential election won by his brother.

The newly named commissioners are Gerald A. Reynolds, former assistant secretary for the office of civil rights in the Education Department, and attorney Ashley L. Taylor of Richmond, Va. Bush intends to designate Reynolds the commission chairman, succeeding Berry, and to name Abigail Thernstrom, already a commission member, as vice chairperson.
"We thank the commission members for their service," she said. "Their terms have expired and we have appointed new commission members."

Reynolds is assistant general counsel for Great Plains Energy Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to serving in the Education Department under Bush, Reynolds was deputy associate attorney general providing legal advice for civil litigation matters.

They've been telegraphing this one for weeks, if not months. For a guy who clams not to like swatting at flys, Bush sure seems to go out of his way to do just that. The Civil Rights Commission is toothless. He spent four years ignoring them with impunity. but he couldn't let pass an opportunity to poke the civil rights crowd in the eye, just for the hell of it. The surprising aspect is the background of the new chair. It appears that there just isn't a government job for which the bewst preparation isn't working in the energy biz.


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