Suzanne Peck, the city’s chief technology officer, has become a darling of the nation’s technomedia. Public CIO magazine, Federal Computer Week, and Government Technology are among the pubs that have rightly hailed her success in turning a municipal technological backwater into a model for other cities. Washington Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras, however, took a pass on boarding this particular bandwagon, calling Peck a “serial District law violator” and a “serial law violator” in two recent columns. The pull-no-punches columnist also advocated Peck’s sacking as part of the mayoral changeover.
Vince Morris, a spokesperson for the Williams administration, rang up the Examiner to express his concern. “To call someone who’s worked in government and turned the city’s Web site into one of the best in the nation…a lawbreaker is pretty serious and completely unfair,” says Morris.
The Examiner responded with a “Clarification” stating, “In neither column was there any support for this phrase and it should have been removed from the column.” Barras offered her “support” materials in an e-mail to Morris that cited findings by city investigators who’d examined various practices of Peck’s office. “More has to be done to hold bureaucrats and people of Ms. Peck’s position accountable,” wrote Barras, a longtime Washington City Paper contributor. She would not comment for this story.
Peck & Co., meanwhile, are satisfied with the Examiner’s mea culpa. “It meets our needs to have false statements corrected,” says Christina Fleps, Peck’s general counsel.