- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
City State: D.C. Council begins hearing on Gray hirings
A hearing into the personnel practices of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray started this morning with council member Mary M. Cheh’s announcement that a second hearing will be tentatively scheduled for April 7.
Today’s hearing is scheduled to include testimony from D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby, Gray campaign director Reuben Charles, Gray-supporter-turned-city-job-recipient Talib Karim, Department of Healthcare Finance Director Wayne Turnage, Department of Health Director Mohammad Ahkter, and Department of Human Resources Director Judy Banks.
Talib Karim, a Gray appointee who resigned from Healthcare Finance when questions surfaced about his domestic life, said he was instructed by Hall, the mayor’s chief of staff, to find a place for Mr. Brown in the agency that matched his qualifications.
“I would assume he was interviewed,” he said, although he did not know the full extent of the process as it related to Brown.
Outside the hearing, Council member David Catania said he was frustrated with indirect answers he has received from witnesses so far. He said putting the “appetizer” witnesses before the key people slated for April 7 could create an unfair impression before the mayor’s key people get the chance to clear the air.
Answers, he said, are all he wants.
“I’m not getting them now, and that’s the concern I’m having,” Mr. Catania said.
“The media reports would have us believe it was there investigatory reporting that led to Mr. Brown’s termination … that’s absolutely false,” he said.
He said he was qualified for his own position, and that his own background has been exaggerated in tabloid-like reports.
Reuben Charles, a venture capitalist who worked on Mr. Gray’s campaign and transition team, said he never promised anyone a job. Instead, he told him to wait until the mayor took office, “which was his dictate,” or apply through the normal process on a website designated for that purpose.
He said the transition team raised private funds for Mr. Gray’s inaugural gala, looked at the costs of transition and operations and what he could “loosely describe” as human resource functions.
He knew the HR team — Judy Banks, Constance Newman and Lorraine Green — but did not have close oversight of them, he told the committee. Charles testified they had general conversations about the volume of people looking for employment, but not particular people.
He said he met Mr. Brown day after primary, but had no conversations about him getting a job.
“He was very clear he wanted to work for the administration, ” Mr. Charles said, noting Mr. Brown thought he was smart enough and talented enough. “He was just very adamant about receiving employment.”
“I thought that was inaccurate at best, and told him that,” Mr. Charles said.
He said he was unfamiliar with how any of the children of government employees applied for and obtained their jobs, except for Leslie Green. He said she was active during the campaign, but appeared to have applied online.
Mr. Willoughby testified Mr. Gray’s recently fired chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, called him up Jan. 14 and ask him to meet with Mr. Brown “as a courtesy,” although the purpose wasn’t explicitly clear.
“In my mind, it was never an interview,” Mr. Willoughby said. “There was no application, and there was no opening.”
“He was very appreciative of me taking the time to meet with him, and that ended the meeting,” Mr. Willoughby said.
Mr. Willoughby said he has received resume referrals from the executive and legislative branches before, but he always has potential candidates apply through the normal selection process.
Mr. Catania suggested their was a sense of urgency from the mayor’s office, noting that within two weeks, Brown was on payroll of Healthcare Finance, “which doesn’t suggest much of a vetting process.”
In his turn, Council member Marion Barry said he doesn’t want to see hard-working government employees “tarnished for life,” noting there are differences in the level of vetting between departments.
“You can’t compared how you do it … with how people are hired in other parts of the excepted service,” Mr. Barry said.
Sulaimon Brown said he showed up Monday after listening to a Fox 5 TV news report about the hearing.
“I’m here to say I’m not running from anyone,” Mr. Brown said.
He said the FBI and U.S. Attorney has the professionalism to investigate his claims, but does not trust the council and District government to conduct an impartial inquiry.
“Everything I have said has been supported by evidence,” Mr. Brown said. “This has been a smear campaign.”
From the outset, Mrs. Cheh referred to Mr. Brown’s claims of being paid to stay in the race to badmouth incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty “the most dramatic allegations” so far. Mr. Brown received a $110,000-a-year job before he was fired over issues surrounding his past.
Mr. Catania said he appreciates the intent of the hearings, but wishes the key witnesses showed up first.
“We will have to wait a few weeks longer to have these answers,” Mr. Catania said. “I cannot believe that all these individuals … were unavailable today, especially when one is in the audience.”
“I don’t see the actions of the last two months as innocently as some,” Mr. Catania said, noting there appeared to be a “political caste system” in the District.
“If you know someone, you get a job,” Mr. Catania said.
Mr. Barry said it bothers him to hear people say the D.C. government is up for purchase.
“It’s a damn lie,” Mr. Barry said. “It’s not for sale, it’s not for sale, it’s not for sale.”
“Mr. Catania, as a lawyer knows you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
He also took issue with Mr. Catania highlighting jobs given to the children of city employees.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- State health websites are in need of a cure
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Obama admin.: One in 10 Obamacare forms might have errors
- Obama administration knew of key Obamacare delay in August, emails say
- House Speaker John Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Latest Blog Entries
- Calif.: Give 'gift of health' by pledging cash for the uninsured
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
By Tom Fitton
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Richard Ivory, editor-in-chief of Hip Hop Republicans and HHR at Communities Digital News, turns his interests, and pen, to the people making news today.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow