Mount Rainier has hired an interim city manager to head up the town’s administration as it looks for a full-timer to take on the role. The new city manager is Latasha Gatling, a former town councilor and, later, a town administrator for the city of Seat Pleasant and a former liason with the Prince George’s County Council. Gatling’s first day on the job is Nov. 19, 2019.
The hire was announced by Mount Rainier Councilor Celina Benitez in a Facebook post Nov. 14, 2019.
In part because the city’s financial audits are late, plans to renovate a Mount Rainier-owned building, Potts Hall, into a civic center still seem to be a long ways off, with city officials saying it will be an uphill battle to assemble the millions of dollars needed for the project.
During its most-recent City Council meeting Mount Rainier council members discussed the proposed renovations. A key focus of the discussion was efforts to solicit funding for the project from state agencies and officials. Mayor Malinda Miles has approached the governor’s office for funding, while Councilor Luke Chesek discussed his outreach to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for funding. But during the discussion, it became apparent that the piecemeal approach to funding the project likely won’t add up to the amount necessary to begin work.
“When I hear you guys talk about all those buckets, to me none of those things add up to the $5 million to $8 million,” lamented Councilor Luke Chesek during the meeting. Instead, according to Chesek, the city will likely be pushed by DHCD and other officials to go after low-interest loans for the project, which is estimated to cost between $5 million to $8 million (with the significant caveat that those estimates are several years old by this point).
A mixture of righteous anger, sorrow and radical activism permeated a vigil held last night to demand justice and accountability for Leonard Shand, the 49-year-old African American man killed by 10 police officers in Hyattsville last month.
In the first City Council meeting since the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand last month in Hyattsville, city officials expressed sadness over Shand’s death, even holding a brief moment of silence to commemorate him, but offered no new information about the incident.
The fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand in Hyattsville was the most recent case of what an American Civil Liberties Union legal associate says is an ongoing failure by Maryland police departments to de-escalate situations with people who may have mental health issues.
Officials with the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Hyattsville City Police Department and the Mount Rainier Police Department have identified the officers who fired their guns during last week’s fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand.
Mount Rainier’s city manager office remains vacant as city officials try to figure out a recruitment plan to find a replacement. During a special session, Mount Rainier City Council discussed the issue during its Sept. 24, 2019, meeting. Mount Rainier’s human resources director D’alizza Mercedes told City Council the lack of a city manager has caused “turmoil” for city staff. “The fact that we are in a very interesting position without a city manager is quite difficult,” said Mercedes before Council during a special meeting called Sept.