Powell exits FCC

Former chairman saluted by colleagues

WASHINGTON — Presiding over his last monthly meeting of the Federal Communications Commission, departing chairman Michael Powell embraced colleagues and received a standing ovation.

Despite a full agenda requiring attention and votes, the focus of Thursday’s meeting clearly fell on the man whose controversial tenure as commission topper was coming to an end.

Democratic commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, who have frequently disagreed — sometimes sharply — with Powell’s positions, lauded their boss for his dedication. Adelstein singled out Powell’s nearly fatal accident while in the Army as evidence of his commitment to public service.

Fellow Republican commissioners Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin praised Powell for his vision regarding emerging technologies, such as broadband and digital TV.

Powell, who officially leaves at the end of next week, said government service was “the highest honor and greatest privilege” and that he had enjoyed his work at the commission. Showing a sense of humor, he finished by saying, “Will all those in favor of me leaving signify by saying ‘Aye.’ ” He was the only one to raise a hand.

While the White House has yet to appoint a successor, observers believe Martin will ascend to the top spot. Recent press speculation has also included Michael D. Gallagher, a senior Commerce Dept. official, as a leading candidate.

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