Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s apparent last-minute decision to extend the city’s summer job program had some of the ingredients necessary for a big hullabaloo between Hizzonner and the D.C. Council. But in the end, it doesn’t look like there’s anything to get excited about.
Expanding the program is one of Fenty’s proudest accomplishments, one he touts regularly on the campaign trail (though he incorrectly says there are 22,000 participants instead of about 18,000).
But the program has a troubled track record—which includes running millions over budget, leaving large packs of kids roaming around with nothing to do except destroy crape myrtles, and failing to protect kids from getting jumped for their paychecks.
The council has routinely expressed its displeasure with the way Fenty has run the program, and passed legislation limiting the program to six weeks. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi sent a letter to the Fenty administration last week telling them their wish to extend the program for a week-and-half lacked the “legal authority” without the council passing a new law. (Gandhi did, however, say that there was enough money to extend the program, thanks in part to $8.3 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding, and $1.3 million in stimulus funds.)
The council, apparently, isn’t going to grant Fenty his wish without getting a few digs at him first. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, Fenty’s main rival in the upcoming mayoral election, was asked to schedule a vote on the extension today. He didn’t, but instead said the council will hold a roundtable discussion about the program and its flaws on Monday—before taking a vote.
And Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, who birthed the summer jobs program two decades ago, accused Fenty of playing “playing political games” with the young workers and their parents by his decision to expand the program “magically, in the dead of night.”
But all that was just posturing. No councilmember indicated that they would actually vote against approving the extension. LL predicts Fenty will get his way Monday, once the council finishes bashing him a bit. After all, who wants to say no to kids?