- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2009

D.C. Council members say they will issue a second round of subpoenas to government witnesses who failed to appear at a hearing Monday on the execution of a contract for parks and recreation projects that have come under legal scrutiny.

Council member Harry Thomas Jr. said he will draft subpoenas Tuesday to two employees in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development who did not respond to a request to testify.

Mr. Thomas wants director of development David Jannarone and project manager Jacquelyn Glover to explain their roles in an unusual arrangement in which millions of dollars in city funds were transferred from the Department of Parks and Recreation to the D.C. Housing Authority via the deputy mayor’s office.

“This says to me that they’re not taking this serious, and the gravity of this is really getting ready to explode,” said Mr. Thomas, Ward 5 Democrat. “This weighs on our ability to go before Congress and anyone else and say that we’re managing government the way it should be managed.”

Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development Valerie Santos testified during the all-day hearing and was directed to contact the employees during a recess called for by Mr. Thomas.

The council members criticized Ms. Santos for being evasive and uncooperative after she did not make an effort to contact Mr. Jannarone and Ms. Glover during the recess. After a second recess before which she was again directed to contact the employees, Ms. Santos said that Mr. Jannarone had the day off and that Ms. Glover did not answer her phone.

Ms. Santos said she did not know whether Mr. Jannarone, who reports directly to her, knew that he was asked to testify or whether his leave had been scheduled prior to that request.

Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, challenged Ms. Santos’ explanation.

“I think this lady is lying,” Mr. Barry said after a testy exchange.

When asked whether she thought the arrangement by which the contract was executed was unusual, Ms. Santos said, “I can’t answer that. I don’t feel comfortable.”

Acting D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ximena Hartsock appeared after she was subpoenaed when she did not attend a Nov. 5 hearing. Ms. Hartsock said she did not appear because she was told by another Fenty administration official that she did not need to appear because other members of the administration would be testifying.

Monday’s meeting was the third part of a hearing that Mr. Thomas has pledged to continue until all requested parties testify.

Council members say the quest for answers has become frustrating.

“At some point you give up and say, ‘We’ve tried our best and we’re just going to write our report and do the best we can,’ ” said council member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat. “It’s enough at some point.”

Members of the council are seeking answers about a $40 million contract for project management services with developers Banneker Ventures and Regan Associates, saying it was illegal because it was executed in a manner that bypassed council oversight.

They have also raised questions about the propriety of using Banneker Ventures, which is owned by Adrian M. Fenty’s friend and fraternity brother Omar Karim.

The funds were a part of a plan that members of the Fenty administration say would expedite the construction of a dozen parks projects citywide.

Mr. Thomas said he will wield subpoena power as needed and will refer any evidence of wrong doing to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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