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Diving Deeper Into Aquatics Director's Firing

The District's firing of aquatics director Brendan McElroy took a new twist Wednesday, with news that the D.C. Office of the Inspector General had launched a preliminary investigation of McElroy a month before he was fired, according to sources familiar with the probe

The investigation, outlined in a letter the inspector general sent in late July to Ximena Hartsock, interim director of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, centered on whether a swim team managed by McElroy "dominated" the pool at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center.

Charles J. Willoughby, the inspector general, said in the letter that his office had received complaints that McElroy's team "significantly reduced the amount of pool time available to other patrons."

Two weeks ago, Hartsock fired McElroy as aquatics director. His removal outraged some parents, and McElroy says he was unjustly terminated. City officials have declined to comment, calling it a personnel issue.

It's unclear whether McElroy was managing a public or private swim team at the Turkey Thicket pool. The inspector general's office is charged with investigating misuse of city resources.

In an interview Wednesday, McElroy said he had been asked "to build a competitive swim program" by Clark E. Ray, the former parks and recreation director, who hired him in October.

McElroy said he managed a combination of District, Maryland and Virginia youths who were part of USA Swimming, a private swim organization.

"My job was to build the swim team, and that is exactly what I was doing," McElroy said. "Everyone in the agency was aware of me coaching at Turkey Thicket, which I did not get paid one penny for, from the very first day I started."

McElroy denies the allegations that his swim team bullied other swimmers at taxpayers' expense.

"We continued to have lanes open to the public," he said. "The swim team never interfered with programming that was already intact at Turkey Thicket. What we did is add to the program."

Austin A. Andersen, a spokesman for the inspector general's office, confirmed that there was an open inquiry but declined further comment.
-- Tim Craig

By Washington Post Editors  |  August 26, 2009; 5:16 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Employees , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig  
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Next: Williams (Diane not Tony) to chair Clark Ray's campaign


Seems to me that the Fenty "circus" just keeps getting more clowns. McElroy should have never been hired. Hartsock is a joke. Everything pertaining to the Aquatics Division of DC Parks and Recreation will soon be coming out in the wash.

Someone should ask all the other "at-will" employees that were let go from Aquatics what REALLY goes on. (Politics!) That's where you will get your "dirty-laundry" history. Former employees with knowledge and tenure.

Posted by: reddog19 | August 26, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Reddog19, who are you defending? you make no sense.

Posted by: onemoredeadbrain | August 26, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

How in the world does coaching a team of MD and VA kids benefit DPR or the residents of DC?

And why would he call coaching this team his "job" (and say Clark Ray asked him to do this), but in the same breath say he wasn't being paid "one penny" for it.

Which one is it? Is coaching your job or not? If not, isn't it a conflict of interest for the Director of Aquatics to hog a bunch of lanes from tax-paying patrons for his private MD-VA swim team?

I suppose you conspiracy theorists want to reinstate him and give him a promotion for his great coaching skills right?

Get outta here...

Posted by: GetOuttaHere | August 27, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

In this recession why has no one come up with the bright business idea of creating anti-Fenty tshirts,lawn signs, baseball caps and bumper stickers.

A starter slogan could be…”Fenty Fooled Us” or "Everybody Hates Fenty" colored in green and white which are Fenty’s campaign colors.

Or “Fenty Fired Me” tshirts for Fenty’s contribution to DC’s unemployment rate.

Maybe bumper stickers for cab drivers that say in every language, "Welcome to DC, we hate our mayor" so that tourists can see and Fenty becomes the national embarrassment he deserves to be.

Maybe for school kids shoulder bags can be made that say "My Education has not been Rheeformed!"

Lastly, mens tshirts that say "Fenty I know your wife, hire me!"

Since Fenty wants his nname everywhere in this city let's give it to him.

Just a thought.

Posted by: TheMadnessShop | August 27, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

The IG is just a tool of the Mayor.

Posted by: tm7333 | August 27, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Brendan McElroy is a University of Virginia graduate, a former scholar-athlete and a Manager who has worked hard for many years and many hours to provide motivation, mentoring and discipline to kids in swim, tennis, and other recreational programs. He saved the District money from poor prior decisions regarding maintenance contracts, managed the drain compliance, and fulfilled management as well as recreational program and coaching duties. Recreational programs for children is a key aspect of s city's health. Engaging in team sports encourages discipline and enhances academic performance. If you do not like or invest in children, this was a great firing. If you do, you may consider having some outrage that one of the few hardworking people in DC government - one committed to changing a child's trajectory into successful choices - was let go by a shopaholic overspending (as in 10 employees with no experience - taxpayers be damned!) interim director who feels comfortable texting district employees at 3 a.m.

Posted by: mmdd | August 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... skewing facility perks to suit one's individual needs...? Sounds eerily familiar. What was that about a certain swimming facility recently being upgraded at significant public expense, to include a heated pool, etc.? Whose favorite pool facility was that? (Do the initials AMF ring a bell?) I wonder if the IG has been asked to look into that situation...

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 27, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

MadnessShop get the ball rolling - I want one of each - even the ones that don't apply to me! I want to give them out as gifts. Could be very lucrative, even in this economy.

Posted by: boo2 | August 27, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

As a frequent swimmer at Turkey Thickett, I did witness, and complained, that often times the water temperature was absolutely too cold for seniors like me to swim, especially in inclimate frigid weather. We were informed that the cause for the low water temperature was that the swimming team desired swimming/practicing in colder water than regular swimmers. Many of us regarded this as unfair to the normal routine swimmers, and related this to Mr. Clarke Ray.

Posted by: mackt3 | August 27, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Deadbrain: I'm not defending anyone...just sick of Fenty and his puppets.

Posted by: reddog19 | August 27, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

The Madness Shop, please get the t-shirts rolling. I would buy one of each. Boo2 wants some. I GUARANTEE if you print them and sell them, you'll become independently wealthy.

Posted by: southyrndiva | August 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It seems that Nickles is Mayor and Fenty is his tool.

Posted by: southyrndiva | August 28, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Hey GetOuttaHere:

You do not know what you are speaking about. Brendan was not training kids from VA and MD in DC pools. He was training kids mostly from DC, some from VA and MD to swim for DC. Do you know that these kids competed in a meet in North Carolina in July and got first place for DC for the first time in DC history? They competed in the summer for Takoma Park Swim Team, which is a DC Swim Team, and won first place against teams from VA and MD.
His coaching benefitted DC because DC got a great team now. Majority of he kids he coached for free are from DC and the parents pay taxes.
He spent his own time at least 2 hours everyday, six days a week coaching the kids from DC, VA and MD to compete for DC government's team without charging anyone any money. If you think coaching DC kids for free was conflicting with his Director job why don't you come and coach the kids for free? You don't even know what you are talking about.

Posted by: jimmy45 | August 28, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

O.k., I've been around the swim team arena in DC for a while. Jimmy45 needs to get the facts straight. The DCPR swim team was a winning team before Brendan came on the scene. We've had excellent coaches that care for the children and work hard to encourage them and train them to be competitive, top ranking swimmers. DCPR's swim team is getting better every year. TPDC's team won the Division A #1 championship spot in 2007- before Brendan arrived on the scene. Brendan brought some good swimmers to an already established team of good swimmers. He is a good coach, but he had a great foundation to work with that was built by DCPR coaches before he joined the Aquatics Department. Everyone has their own opinion - that's true - but get the facts right! DCPR swim team will continue to be a team of highly qualified and hard working swimmers whether Brendan is with them or not. The show will go on.

Posted by: WiserNow | August 29, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Jimmy 45 you got it right! Brendan brought to town a better class of swimmer. They are far more competitive overall and their technique is of a superior quality. TPDC hasn't had an undefeated season in what 10 years? You may not want to admit it, wisernow, but you know that Brendan's swimmers played an integral role in achieving 1st place at the Divisionals and, of course, in taking first place at the Black Heritage Championship Meet. DCPR does not have excellent coaches, the two that remain are just okay.

Posted by: Tarheelmeanie | August 30, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

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