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Right about the time that Mayor Vince Gray was having a pleasant moment posing for pictures at the new MLK memorial this morning, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh released a committee report saying the Gray administration’s hiring practices caused “deep harm” to the District government’s reputation.
The reports findings are for the most part nothing new: Senior level staffers’ children were improperly hired; senior level staff were paid too much; it sure seems like Gray promised former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown a job; Gray campaign aide Howard Brooks gave Brown money, etc.
The newsier findings include the fact that one of former Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s last acts in office was to give City Administrator Allen Lew a $69,000 bonus, apparently by circumventing council rules. The Gray administration later signed off on the bonus. Another finding says the hiring of Brooks’ neighbor, Leroy Ellis, for a job he wasn’t qualified for is straight up “cronyism.” Ellis remains on the job.
Cheh’s report dings the mayor for being the top dog when all these shenanigans were taking place, but also says there is “scant” evidence that he knew of or approved of illegal acts. “The blame for the many personnel errors committed by the Gray administration falls squarely on the trio whom Mayor Gray directed to manage the selection and placement of political appointees in his administration,” the report says. That trio is Gray confidant Lorraine Green, her protege and the mayor’s former chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall, and Gray’s former H.R. director Judy Banks.
The report recommends that the council refer Banks’ testimony to the U.S. Attorney Office for possible perjury.
For Sulaimonphiles, there’s even more evidence that he may have been one of the worst hires in District government history. The report notes that he was “unqualified” for his $110,000-a-year job as an auditor for the Department of Health Care Finance and lied on his résumé.
“It appears that no one in the Gray administration made the effort to check Mr. Brown’s qualifications as an auditor or investigate the veracity of his resume,” the report notes, before adding:
The Committee contacted several of Mr. Brown’s former employers, who contradicted Mr. Brown’s claims about his employment history. For example, Mr. Brown claimed on his DC-2000 form that he worked at Lutz and Carr, LLP, a New York accounting firm, from October 2007 to March 2008 at a salary of $70,000.
Lutz and Carr confirmed that Mr. Brown was hired by the firm on October 15, 2007, but told the Committee that Mr. Brown was fired in January 2008 and that his salary was actually $50,000.
On his DC-2000 form, Mr. Brown also stated that prior to being hired by the District government his last employment was from July 2008 through December 2008 at the New Jersey accounting firm of Patrizio and Zaho, LLC. However, this information proved to be untrue as well. Patrizio and Zaho reported to the Committee that Mr. Brown was hired on July 14, 2008, and fired on September 15, 2008. Although Mr. Brown stated that his salary was $80,000, the firm reported that his salary was $70,000.
The report also has a statement and emails from some of Brown’s former coworkers at DHCF that show just how dysfunctional an employee he was. Says one former supervisor in a prepared statement: “I had assigned him an office, and, without consultation with me, he changed it and directed staff to move his computer, etc.” She adds: “Mr. Brown also had the unsettling habit of reaching for papers in people’s workspaces without asking for permission and proceeding to photocopy them.”
The supervisor says Brown made veiled references about who had placed him in the agency and what the true nature of his job was. The supervisor says these “somewhat delusional views about his place in this agency, and possibly the city and federal governments, make him a management challenge.”
A few weeks after Brown started at DCHF, the agency’s H.R. director emailed the top brass that she was getting frequent complaints about Brown. “The complaints are he is asking a lot of questions, he stands at your cubicle or outside your office with no purpose or no meeting, some individuals have expressed a concern of being afraid of him based on his behavior,” the email said. “I am not sure how we are handling this situation, but agency personnel are concerned about their safety and concerned about his behavior. . Just keeping all of you informed about this concern. I am hearing information basically daily.”
Sounds a bit creepy. Here’s the whole report:
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Photo by Darrow Montgomery