- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2011

The director of the D.C. welfare-to-work program Project Empowerment, who was fired in February, has recently been rehired, according to the city.

D.C. Department of Employment Services spokesman David Thompson confirmed last week that program Director Charles Jones was rehired within the past 90 days.

He said Mr. Jones was hired after applying for his old job and proving to be the most qualified candidate.

The firing of Mr. Jones occurred shortly after Mayor Vincent C. Gray took office in January and was largely attributed to a $5 million budget deficit for the program.

The decision to fire Mr. Jones was made by then-DOES Director Rochelle Webb, who said the program, whose clients included ex-offenders, was $5 million over budget because it had been funded inappropriately through the use of workers’ compensation funds.

However, she also confirmed that Rahim Jenkins, a former corrections officer and an adviser to Mr. Gray, complained that Mr. Jones wasn’t doing a good job.

The Washington Times reported at the time of the firing that Mr. Jones had no authority over the budget situation. And he had met or exceeded the city’s goals in finding jobs for program participants in each of the last six years, according to data obtained by The Times

Mr. Thompson declined to answer questions about why Mr. Jones was fired. Neither Mr. Jones nor Mr. Jenkins responded to requests for comment.

Of the rehiring decision, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said, “I am happy to see Charles Jones back helping returning citizens get back to work and provide for their families.”

Mr. Gray’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Webb said she was fired in April in part because she expressed concerns that the District was improperly funding Project Empowerment.

• Jeffrey Anderson can be reached at jmanderson@washingtontimes.com.

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