- WaPo to readers: Send us your ‘gun violence’ stories for Sandy Hook anniversary
- U.S. threatens Ukraine with sanctions over dispatch of riot police
- Canada doing away with door-to-door mail delivery by 2018
- NSA chief defends phone spying: ‘There is no other way’
- Hawaii Health Department head killed in plane crash
- Colorado school drops sexual harassment label on boy who kissed girl’s hand
- Australia court strikes down 5-day-old, gay-marriage law
- Fake interpreter at Mandela service: ‘Sorry,’ I have schizophrenia
- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
D.C. council members question school security contract
Question of the Day
The Gray administration’s request for retroactive approval of a school security contract that has been extended without D.C. Council approval since August met with bruising criticism last week at the confirmation hearing for James D. Staton Jr., acting chief of the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP).
Mr. Staton, the nominee of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, was caught flat-footed as Ward 3 Democrat Mary Cheh, chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee, and at-large Democrat Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, demanded to know why council concerns about performance problems on the part of U.S. Security Associates (USSA) and subcontractor Watkins Security Services have yet to be addressed.
“I’m disappointed there seems to be all these issues that appear to be overlooked,” Ms. Cheh said. “What is it that you intend to do about these issues?”
In August, a unanimous council, led by then-Chairman Gray, wrote to OCP with concerns about discrimination complaints, a multimillion-dollar jury verdict for sexual harassment and retaliation, and substantial wage and hour litigation involving USSA, and urged for a replacement firm.
On Feb. 16, Mr. Mendelson held a hearing during which his committee heard testimony from USSA employees who further complained of unfair labor practices and retaliation for complaining about those practices. Mr. Mendelson wrote to Mr. Staton on April 14 asking why the USSA contract was being extended on a monthly basis without council approval.
On Friday, he expressed displeasure that his questions and concerns had not been resolved. An OCP review of the contract has consisted mostly of satisfactory references from the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and was sent to the council on May 13.
“I’m feeling insulted,” Mr. Mendelson said of OCP’s failure to respond to issues raised by the council since August. “We’re being asked to approve a contract with nothing but a record of unresponsiveness. That’s an unfair position for the council to be put it.”
“Were the violations in the District of Columbia?” asked Mr. Staton, who has been acting chief for more than two months.
“Yes,” Mr. Mendelson shot back.
“Oh,” said Mr. Staton, who referred a couple of times to the veteran council member as “Mr. Middleton.”
“I don’t have that information in front of me,” he said.
Mr. Staton, who if confirmed will see his salary go from $101,000 to $163,000, deferred many questions to Ms. Hapeman, who assured the committee the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating complaints against USSA.
“We have to have a way, rather than relying on the Department of Labor, to determine for ourselves if a contractor is responsible and in compliance with the law,” Ms. Cheh said, to which Mr. Staton replied that he would review OCP’s oversight procedures with Ms. Hapeman.
“That will tell you nothing,” Ms. Cheh said. “You need to hear from people who have come here and testified, and you need to consider whether these allegations have any foundation, and if they do, what are the consequences. You can’t just push through a contract that potentially has all these ills associated with it.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jeffrey Anderson is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- DIVEST! Oil is the new apartheid on college campuses
- Colorado school drops sexual harassment label on boy who kissed girl's hand
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgment in Heller II
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow