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August 13, 2008

Taking Responsibility

Dear Responsible Citizens:

Dorothy, below, writes about yesterday’s press conference at which Mayor Fenty, under pointed direct questioning, took some kind of responsibility for the mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility of this year’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Most of the press credit him for taking full responsibility, and he did use the words “full responsibility,” but I say only “some kind of responsibility,” because it’s not really clear what he thinks he’s responsible for. Was his decision to give a job to everyone who applied to the program responsible for the busted budget? Of course not, he maintains. Was his decision to pay students who had failed courses during the regular school year to attend summer school ill-advised? Certainly not. The problems of the Summer Youth Employment Program, as overblown as they have been in the press, according to the mayor, were largely the fault of computer programs unable to meet the demands on them and of managers who didn’t alert him early enough to the difficulties they were having.

Unfortunately, the report done by the mayor’s own CapStat director ( doesn’t quite support the mayor’s position. Understated and muted as the report is, the extent of the failures come through. The mayor’s stance on this program’s failings is characteristic of him. As I said in themail on June 25, his typical response echoes the cry of Captain Midnight’s villain Ivan Shark, “My only weakness is the helpless fools who serve me.”

In the end, the mayor’s solution is not to promise that he will exercise greater fiscal responsibility and restraint, not to say that he has learned to practice caution rather than recklessness, but to blame those helpless fools, and to scapegoat the director of the Department of Employment Services, Summer Spencer, who has “resigned” and been replaced by the mayor’s demoted Chief of Staff, Tene Dolphin ( In this case, as has been the case in previous administration failures, the mayor is faithful to the old naval tradition that, when there is a disaster at sea, the captain designates a subordinate to go down with his ship.

Gary Imhoff


Summer Jobs
Dorothy Brizill,

On Tuesday, Mayor Fenty held a press conference at which he released the “Findings of an Internal Investigation Regarding the District’s 2008 Summer Youth Program,” The report, prepared by the CapStat office within the Office of the City Administrator, details gross mismanagement and fiscal irregularities within the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). At the press conference, Fenty announced the resignation of Summer Spencer, Director of the Department of Employment Services, which oversaw and managed the SYEP, but acknowledged that responsibility for the problems associated with the program “went all the way to the top of the District government” — namely, to the offices of the mayor and the city administrator.

In an editorial, “Mayor Fenty’s Math” (, the Washington Times wrote that, “Fiscal matters were never District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty’s strong suit during his years on the DC council, and it is now clear that they just may be his chief weakness amid revelations that the summer jobs program ran $31 million over budget. The popular program was estimated to cost $21 million. How did this happen? . . . Mr. Fenty instructed his managers to place anyone who sought a job with a job — even if applicants missed the deadline. Mr. Fenty wanted to be the new and improved Marion Barry (who started the jobs program decades ago) with a bigger, bolder summer jobs program to teach thousands of teens the value of work and proper work etiquette, but he did not bother with the costs or how his wishes to place every youth would affect the city’s budget. Subsequently, some youths who failed to show up for work got paid, and when the money ran out, many who had actually worked received no pay.”

The city council has asked the Inspector General and the DC Auditor to conduct a joint investigation of the SYEP, and on September 18 at 10:00 a.m., Councilmember Carol Schwartz’s committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations will hold a public oversight hearing.


A Couple Thoughts on the Fenty Administration
Eric Woods,

The gun ownership rights and registration fiasco concocted by the Fenty administration under the guise of keeping the District “safe” reminds me that the District residents have not had a real chance to express their collective mind. What the city really ought to do is to hold a referendum on the basic right to gun ownership — post Supreme Court ruling — and then structure the gun ownership and registration process in accordance with the results. In sixteen years of being a DC resident, I can remember only one referendum, while I see states like California exercise that privilege almost annually.

It is not surprising that the number of DC youth in the summer jobs programs increased 25-50 percent over last year. I know of several youths who are getting paid to attend summer school under the program. These same students underperformed dramatically all school year and were required to attend summer school in order to advance to the next grade level. If the Fenty administration is compensating DCPS kids for poor performance, then it should have been very simple to project the swelling of the ranks for the summer jobs program!


OSSE Literacy Campaign
Kadidia Thiero,

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) invites all District residents to participate in a new citywide literacy campaign to combat the growing problem of illiteracy and to encourage residents to engage in reading as a daily practice. The OSSE is encouraging District residents to document a “Day in the Life of Reading” by photographing their families, friends, and communities reading. These photographs — including parents reading to their children, children reading alone, literacy volunteers teaching people to read, senior citizens reading, bedtime reading, and more — will be used in the literacy campaign as part of a photo essay to illustrate reading as a daily habit. Please E-mail your digital photographs to, and visit for photo submission requirements. The pictures may also be considered for use as part of a slide show presentation at the campaign launch and inclusion in other campaign materials.

Research shows that reading books is the best predictor of several measures of reading achievement for children. According to the recently released DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS) test scores, District students made significant improvement in reading at both the elementary and secondary levels for the 2007-2008 school year. In reading, the number of elementary students performing at the proficient level or higher went up 7.3 percent from last year, and secondary students reaching or exceeding proficiency also increased by 7.3 percent. However, 36 percent (170,000) of District residents are considered functionally illiterate, compared to 21 percent nationally. People who are functionally illiterate have some ability to read and write but not enough to function fully in everyday life. Functionally illiterate individuals may have difficulty with crucial tasks such as filling out job applications, reading maps, understanding bus schedules, and reading newspaper articles. The OSSE is hopeful that this new literacy campaign will work to increase literacy across the District.


DC Taxpayers Don’t Need Another Political Appointee
Paul Craney,

The DC Republican Committee made the following statement in response to DC Mayor Adrian Fenty’s announcement to place his Chief of Staff as the Interim Director, Department of Employment Services to fix budget of the Summer Youth Employment Program, bloated by the 260 percent.

“Fenty’s appointment of his Chief of Staff, who highlights on her resume that she served as director of special projects for the Democratic National Committee in 2004, is an utter joke. What DC taxpayers don’t need is another political appointment; we need a business approach for how to run our city government,” stated DC Republican Committee Chairman Robert J. Kabel.


Big Surprise
Ed T Barron,

After a fruitless five hours in the jury room at Superior Court, without being impaneled, I was set free and went two blocks over to the Motor Vehicle Bureau on C Street to register my new travel trailer. Surprise, surprise. They don’t do registrations or license renewals at the main office anymore. You need to go to one of the satellite offices in the fringes of DC to get registrations or licenses. The main office only does adjudication now. If there was any announcement about this I surely missed it.



Fun Family Films Under the Stars, August 15-17
John A. Stokes,

The District’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will hold “Fun Family Films Under The Stars,” its 2008 Family Movie Night Season, this summer. “Fun Family Films Under The Stars,” which continues until late-September, will afford residents of all ages and families of all sizes the opportunity to enjoy viewing the free, family-oriented films in DPR’s outdoor settings. As in previous years, viewers are invited to bring their own snacks, chairs, and blankets. This year, District residents will have a greater selection of viewing locations. Movies will be shown from 8:45 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Community members who arrive early enough for each screening will have the opportunity to place a vote between two movies that may be shown that evening. The movie that receives the most votes will be shown.

Friday, August 15, Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311 14th Street, NE
Friday, August 15, Sherwood Recreation Center, 1000 G Street, NE
Saturday, August 16, Carver/ Langston Terrace, 21st and Maryland Avenue, NE
Sunday, August 17, Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311 14th Street, NE


Free Tools to Protect and Maintain Your Windows Vista and XP PCs
Barbara Conn,

Audience: All computer users, beginning to advanced. Beginners are encouraged to bring their questions, and advanced users are invited to offer their experience and expertise during Q&A.

Capital PC User Group President Dennis Courtney, who runs the four-hundred-computer data center for the Inter-American Development Bank, will reveal the “secrets” of when and how to use the free solutions available for maintaining Vista PCs, including virus checkers, spyware blockers, spam filters, disk duplicators, popup blockers, registry cleaners, and disk optimizers. A laptop with the Windows Vista operating system will be used for the presentation. Most, if not all, of the tools selected for discussion and demonstration work with the Windows XP operating system as well.) The presentation includes a discussion of differences between Windows Vista and Windows XP. Following the main presentation, at 3:00 p.m., there will be a Tech Brief “Extra” for advanced users on “How To Diagnose a Rogue Driver.”

Gather your colleagues, friends, and spouses, and your questions, and bring them to this Saturday, August 16, 1:00 p.m., event of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG). These monthly gatherings are free and open to all. This month’s event is at the Cleveland Park Branch Library (first floor large meeting room) at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW (between Macomb and Newark Streets), just over a block south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about the event, the speaker, and CPCUG, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, visit To RSVP, send an E-mail to


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