Given the chance to hire someone involved in some of the District government’s most inventive screw-ups, LL wouldn’t take it. But Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd is apparently more forgiving, because he’s brought on the impressively unlucky Sherryl Hobbs Newman as his chief of staff.
For the goods on Newman, check out this 2007 LL story. After stints in the Office of Tax and Revenue and as “customer service czar” for Mayor Anthony Williams, Newman took over the Department of Motor Vehicles and rolled out a new “Destiny” computer system with little success:
Destiny made its debut in 2002, and it did not go particularly well. System outages and long lines at DMV service centers generated enough complaints that At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz called a hearing on a computer program.
Newman was out of the DMV within a year.
After that, Newman became secretary of the District of Columbia, where her term was haunted by a China travel scandal and a mysterious gambling-related supplement to the D.C. Register.
But the rest of the mistakes in Newman’s career look like rounding errors compared to her management of OTR, starting in 2005. While Newman ran the office, OTR staffer Harriette Walters and her associates made off with millions in what would be the largest fraud ever pulled off by a District employee. When the scandal came to light and revealed how much had gone on under Newman’s nose, then-Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi asked her to resign.
Todd spokesman Matt Santoro declined to comment on Newman’s past.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery