OK, so LL has been paying only the wispiest attention today to the hearing being held by At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz today. Folks like Inspector General Charles Willoughby, D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols, and City Administrator Dan Tangherlini have been droning on and on about this failure and that—-snooze! (Check D.C. Wire if you really care that much.)
But now, as LL watches on Channel 13, nearly 11 hours into the hearing, SURPRISE: Summer Spencer in tha house! The former head of the Department of Employment Services, fired in the wake of the summer jobs scandal, was not included on a list of witnesses provided at the start of the hearing.
Give it to Schwartz, she’s got a hell of a sense of drama. (That’s a no small part of the reason why she won LL’s endorsement for the Republican primary.)
LL is not in the room right now, but Tangherlini, who just finished three hours of testimony himself, can’t be too happy about this. Let’s she if she rips on Dan Tan or Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who essentially threw her under the bus in this whole affair by saying she never told him there was any problem with the program before it began. Or will she fall on her sword like a good Fenty soldier? Oh, the suspense!
UPDATE, 9:35 P.M. Well, it’s sort of half-and-half. Spencer says she told the mayor’s office that DOES would need additional budget resources back in the fall. “We started sounding that alarm last October, November. We wanted to see $13 million added to budget; we only received $7 million [in the December supplemental appropriation].” But as far as the more proximate reasons for the program’s failure—-contracting problems, technology problems, etc.—-Spencer passes the buck. “A lot of the information I was told by my staff is that we had things under control….What I found out later is that there was misinformation that was given to me. I would ask the staff questions and I would hear what I think they wanted me to hear.”
UPDATE, 10:10 P.M.: Couple of key moments: Schwartz asked Spencer why she didn’t speak up at CapStat meetings, implying the fact that they were televised might have led Spencer to hold her tongue. Spencer didn’t address that theory, but she says she told Tangherlini privately “within two hours or so” that she had problems with the contracting process. On that note, Spence also testified that she alerted contracting head Dave Gragen about teh problems in May. “I was very nervous about the contracts already,” she said.
Then there’s the whole issue of taking all comers to the program, budget be damned. On that note, Spencer says, “There needs to be a budget with some set parameters in place that need to be followed” and “I agree with the philosphy [of taking all comers]. The practical rollout of it…it is challenging.”