This afternoon, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs voted to open an investigation into the firing of the city’s erstwhile rent administrator, Grayce Wiggins. Wiggins had been fired earlier this summer, leading to an uproar from tenant advocates, who saw Wiggins as an unusually vigorous advocate for tenant rights—-particularly in her March decision to reject a “patently coercive” agreement between tenants of the Kennedy-Warren apartments in Cleveland Park and landlord B.F. Saul. The resolution approving the investigation includes subpoena power.
Why such an aggressive move?
The committee had scheduled a hearing for next Thursday to explore Wiggins’ firing and other matters at the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Housing Regulation Administration. In advance of the hearing, the committee’s chair, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr. posted a letter to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty asking for personnel actions and performance evaluations for Wiggins, as well as requesting that the heads of HRA, Anita Visser, and DHCD, Leila Edmonds, give testimony at the hearing.
Edmonds replied to Barry’s letter yesterday, saying, “The executive respectfully declines to provide testimony regarding the circumstances of Ms. Wiggins’ removal as Rent Administrator as such testimony is privileged under the deliberative process privilege, and, under the circumstances, also would unlawfully compromise the confidentiality of Ms. Wiggins’ District government personnel information.”
So yeah, as is the Fenty habit, looks like no executive testimony will be forthcoming—-voluntarily. The resolution passed this afternoon, by Barry, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, and At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, says the committee “intends to subpoena documents and witnesses including, but not limited to, the following individuals: Leila Edmonds, Anita Visser and Grayce Wiggins.”