- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2011

A D.C. Council committee on Friday formally disapproved the nomination of Neil A. Stanley to lead the District’s juvenile justice agency, citing concerns about his lack of relevant experience, ongoing troubles in the agency and an inquiry into how a key post had been filled.

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, and Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, affirmed their support for Mayor Vincent C. Gray, but said a broader search should have been conducted for someone to lead the troubled Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS).

Mr. Stanley had been named interim director in December and acting director in March, after serving as general counsel for DYRS and serving in other D.C. agencies earlier in his career.

Mr. Stanley’s history of contributions to the D.C. government should be noted,” said Mr. Graham, chairman of the Committee on Human Services. “However, in the case of DYRS there is not enough in Mr. Stanley’s professional background and skill set that qualifies him to be the permanent director of DYRS.”

Mr. Stanley’s confirmation will go before the full council on Tuesday at its final meeting before summer recess.
If there are not enough votes to support the committee’s disapproval, Mr. Stanley will automatically be confirmed on Thursday, the deadline for action on the nomination.

Mr. Stanley’s chief of staff, Christopher Shorter, could not be reached for comment on the committee’s vote.

Three other members of the committee were notably absent from the hearing, with Chairman Kwame R. Brown filling in to form a quorum.

Mr. Brown abstained from the vote. He said he typically supports the mayor’s nominees but found some of the committee’s concerns “alarming.”

Mr. Graham, the committee chairman, said he had spoken personally to the committee’s three other members — Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, Michael A. Brown, at-large independent, and Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat — about when the hearing would occur.

Yet the notice went out at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, or less than the 24 hours required before a hearing. Two of the members, Mr. Wells and Mr. Brown, were out of town, and Ms. Alexander had left the building for “an emergency,” according to council sources.

Mr. Graham said Mr. Stanley received supportive testimony during his confirmation hearings, but there are lingering questions about his leadership, morale at the agency and whether he tailored a job description for superintendent of the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel to fit the qualifications of a candidate he knew socially for 10 years.

The D.C. Department of Human Resources is looking into whether the job description was edited to make way for Capt. Steven Baynes, who had a successful career in the U.S. Coast Guard but no discernible experience in juvenile justice.

Mr. Graham noted that former interim human resources director Judy Banks sent Mr. Stanley a memo indicating he should form a professional committee to vet candidates, but it was never done.

Mr. Stanley has testified he does not remember seeing the memo.

Namon Reid III, interim superintendent who says he was passed over in favor of Capt. Baynes and fired for complaining about the process, filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court on Friday over how the hiring was conducted.

His attorney, J. Michael Hannon, said Mr. Reid is hoping the superintendent post will be reopened, with consideration of him as a candidate in line with Ms. Banks’ original suggestions.

At Friday’s hearing, Mr. Barry followed through on earlier indications he would not support Mr. Stanley for the director’s post, citing his lack of experience in a job commensurate to leading the turbulent, high-budget DYRS.

“He’s never managed anything that large,” Mr. Barry said. “Not even close.”

Mr. Barry said a DYRS employee recently interrupted his dinner at a restaurant to complain about morale at the agency.

Several union leaders who had testified against Mr. Stanley stood and applauded the committee’s decision.