City Paper is not for tourists
Today, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson joined former Councilmember Kathy Patterson in fact-checking AG Peter Nickles‘ increasingly faulty sworn statement regarding the troubled Pershing Park case.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had ordered the city’s attorney general to submit a sworn statement explaining the evidentiary problems in a Pershing Park case. Nickles and OAG attorney Tom Koger submitted their statements on August 12 [read their statements in full].
This week, Patterson sent a letter to Sullivan outlining the various factual problems she had with Nickles’ statement. Now comes Mendelson writing to Nickles. Mendo points out several mistakes in Nickles’ statement to Sullivan.
All of the errors are both obvious and unnecessary. The take away: Does Nickles really care about the Pershing Park case? Should he be the one leading an investigation into the missing and botched police evidence?
Mendelson tells City Desk that he is undecided on whether to open an investigation. But he says there will be oversight hearings on the controversy.
“What troubles me besides the hot water the city is in with Judge Sullivan, what troubles me is we repeatedly have these problems with getting accurate information,” Mendelson says, citing the DeOnte Rawlings shooting case and the Fire Truck dustup.
Mendelson says the council will be looking into the missing evidence in the Pershing Park case.
Now on to the letter.
Nickles had claimed to Sullivan that the D.C. Council had rebuffed efforts by the Fenty Administration to allocate money for a “District-wide document management system that also would have addressed OAG document management needs.”
In his letter, Mendo points out that his Judiciary Committee oversees the OAG and, well, the need for a new document system has never been brought to his attention during oversight hearings.
Mendo goes on to quote Nickles’ own statements during oversight hearings from April 4, 2008 and March 26, 2009. In the March testimony, the AG concluded his statement with this: “We are grateful that the Mayor, the Committee, and the Council support our important work and that this budget allows us to continue our operations.”
Mendo points out that on page “A-162 of the FY 2009 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan for the Office of the Attorney General,” there is a one-line entry for an electronic management system costing $400,000. He writes that the proposed $400,000 managment system was left in tact by the Council. “It is funded in the current fiscal year,” Mendelson states.
Another graph in Nickles’ statement stumped Mendelson. Nickles wrote to Sullivan:
“I am disappointed to report that for Fiscal Year 2009 the Council reduced the OAG budget by over two million dollars, and for Fiscal Year 2010, the Council reduced the OAG budget further by almost three million dollars, which certainly will result in a reduction in force of present staff.”
Mendo’s response: “These statements are also incorrect.” He points out that the council adopted Fenty’s FY2009 budget request for the OAG “without reducing it one cent.” Even the revised budget did not reduce Nickles’ budget. He goes on to detail the FY2010 numbers:
“The Council’s actions regarding the FY2010 budget are more complicated, but the total OAG budget will be about 3.5% greater than FY2009. This increase includes $315,000 which the Council added—-above the Mayor’s request—-to fund non-personal expenses related to litigation support.”
Mendelson goes further. But the conclusion is this: Nickles’ claims that OAG’s budget got cut or will get cut are false. “The bottom line is that the Council did not cut $3 million from the OAG’s FY2010 budget, the OAG’s budget will grow in FY2010, and the OAG’s litigation support budget will grow,” Mendelson wrote.