Wells, Mendelson surprised and disappointed at DYRS move
D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) aren't happy with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's decision to force out Marc A. Schindler as the head of the city's juvenile justice agency.
Wells, whose human services committee oversees the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, said ousting Schindler was a mistake dictated by nothing more than headlines. "Unless there's some new information that I'm not aware of, I'm really surprised by it and I think it represents a step backward," Wells said.
The mayor announced Monday that Robert Hildum, who has been a top aide to Attorney General Peter Nickles and has overseen juvenile prosecutions, would succeed Schindler, who was named interim director in January.
Fenty said Schindler's 180-day term as interim director was nearing an end and a full national search for a director would have been difficult to undertake in the midst of a mayoral campaign that would leave many candidates reluctant to commit to the job.
But with the mayor's race heating up and the juvenile justice agency under fire from some critics, Schindler was a precarious political spot.
Over the weekend the ax fell.
It was unwelcome news to Mendelson, who as the chair of public safety committee has a vital interest in the workings of DYRS.
"I think it hurts the agency, this turnover," he said.
Like Schindler, Hildum will be an interim director. That troubles Mendelson, who said the agency needs stable leadership if it is going to continue the progress it has made over the last couple of years, which was noted earlier this month by the court monitor who oversees DYRS.
"At a time when the agency has been commended for enormous improvement, this doesn't make a lot of sense," Mendelson said.
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