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Posted at 5:22 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Fenty transfers money from job training to his staff as 'separation pay'

By Nikita Stewart

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who leaves office Jan. 2, used his authority to reprogram $495,000 designated for adult job training to give to his departing staff in "separation pay," according to a one-paragraph Dec. 14 letter he sent to Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi.

The amount transferred skirted the $500,000 threshold that would have triggered approval by the D.C. Council.

On Tuesday, Council Chairman-elect Kwame R. Brown and council member Michael A. Brown sent Fenty a letter asking him to reverse the action.

"In the midst of our current jobs crisis, how can the Mayor begin to justify removing resources that are aimed directly at preparing District residents for sustainable employment," Michael Brown said in a statement. "During the recent budget discussions, the Council made extremely difficult decisions to cut a host of worthy programs and to make it a top priority to restore funds cut from Adult Training in the FY 2011 budget."

Fenty's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

David Umansky, a spokesman for Gandhi, said the CFO's office certified that the funds were available. Staff leaving after Dec. 17 will receive the severance pay, according to Fenty's letter.

By Nikita Stewart  | December 21, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council, Mayor Fenty, Nikita Stewart  
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Comments

all of his staffers or just those that helped with his campaign?

Posted by: Perseus | December 21, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Fenty is vile, right to the end. Good riddance to this public nuisance.

Posted by: clarkesq | December 21, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Fenty's action is outrageous and disgusting.

Posted by: ObjectiveReader1 | December 21, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he can work for himself and set up a new firm with Ron Moten defending recidivist Peaceoholic youth

Posted by: Perseus | December 21, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

This is so unfair. Why can't they veto this blatant on my way out the door in your face rape? This is what he has been doing his whole time in office. You wouldn't believe the money he and his boys have squirreled. Can't someone follow these trails? The nonprofits they've formed, the so-called donations they have given for tax writeoffs and personal kickbacks. ... I believe the economy will turnaround and I want to get back to work. I need that adult training program. Please reverse this. Shame on you Fenty and your Family. How can you sleep next to him? Oh that's right, he's with his boys ...you sleep with his children. I hope you and all your henchmen and women rot deep into the ground. In other words ...

Posted by: PSolver | December 21, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse


. . . a real classy thing to do, Mr. Mayor. Sounds like you could be auditioning for a political job in PG County.

.

Posted by: adjjones | December 21, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I sincerely hope that the new mayor and this council would put some resources toward an investigation of Fenty and some of his crooks and cronies. He has ruined this city financially by shamelessly swindling the residents and continually outsmarting the council and now, we the citizens must foot the entire deficit despite the fact that we did not cause it.

Posted by: tazz2 | December 21, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

People, please. The Post says they encourage analysis, comments, and even challenges to the blogs. I hardly think that calling the Mayor a rapist and insinuating that he is either a homosexual and/or and incestuous pedophile qualifies.

By operation of law, these staffers -- most of whom worked in city jobs for years prior to working on the Fenty re-election campaign - - were to be given a mere 6 weeks of severance pay. Please remember that these folks are soon to be out of work in a bad economy, like so many others.

Because a few people on the Fenty campaign strongly denounced
Mary Cheh's endorsement of Vince Gray, she vengefully introduced a
last-minute piece of legislation which would have disenfranchised
those staffers -- who have returned to city positions -- of this meager
severance. (Cheh disengenuously said that those who had only been employed for "a few weeks" should not receive a severance, given budgetary constraints.)

Fenty, in turn, found a legal way for these employees to basically keep the severance they would have received by operation of law,, had
Merry Cheh not decided to send them a Christmas card.

What Fenty demonstrated here is intelligence and loyalty. He prevented an injustice that a council member vindictively tried to impose upon innocent people in a time of need.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 21, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

People, please. The Post says they encourage analysis, comments, and even challenges to the blogs. I hardly think that calling the Mayor a rapist and insinuating that he is either a homosexual and/or and incestuous pedophile qualifies.

By operation of law, these staffers -- most of whom worked in city jobs for years prior to working on the Fenty re-election campaign - - were to be given a mere 6 weeks of severance pay. Please remember that these folks are soon to be out of work in a bad economy, like so many others.

Because a few people on the Fenty campaign strongly denounced
Mary Cheh's endorsement of Vince Gray, she vengefully introduced a
last-minute piece of legislation which would have disenfranchised
those staffers -- who have returned to city positions -- of this meager
severance. (Cheh disengenuously said that those who had only been employed for "a few weeks" should not receive a severance, given budgetary constraints.)

Fenty, in turn, found a legal way for these employees to basically keep the severance they would have received by operation of law,, had
Merry Cheh not decided to send them a Christmas card.

What Fenty demonstrated here is intelligence and loyalty. He prevented an injustice that a council member vindictively tried to impose upon innocent people in a time of need.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 21, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Just one last F-you to the poor of DC by Fenty on his way out the door. At least he is consistent.

Posted by: PepperDr | December 21, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why anyone would be surprised by this latest move of Fenty. Most of the people who would benefit from the training program are poorer residents. You know, the ones he couldn't care less about? He's basically flipped off that part of the constituency by this Reverse-Robin-Hood move. What a rat!

Posted by: BitterJill | December 21, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

There should be an investigation launched by the General Accounting Office or Inspector General's Office for the U.S. Department of Labor to determine whether federal funds have been misappropriated for non-job training activities. Additionally, audits should be performed on all dc goverment agencies to determine whether other funds have been misappropriated by the Fenty administration over the past four years.

This may require oversight hearings by the House of Representatives Committee on the District of Columbia when the new Congress convenes in January.

Posted by: dcgovcorruption | December 22, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Anthony Williams outgoing staff received up to $60k bonuses and severance per person, running into the millions of $. This is normal to give minimal severance to outgoing management. The vile language here shows how ridiculous many of the people in this city are.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc2 | December 22, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Since I worked in the Williams administration, I am acquaint with how we handled severance pay to eligible employees who left in December 2006.
The funds were taken from the personnel object class budget from the agency of the employee, not from job training funds. Additionally, when we left, a surplus budget of $400 million and a reserve budget of 1.2 billion was left. Sounds like we did a great job with the taxpayers monies and deserved what we got, unlike the shape that the Fenty administration is leaving the city in financially now.

Posted by: dcgovcorruption | December 22, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

You guys still do not seem to get it. Mary Cheh was the catalyst for Fenty diverting the job training funds as severance for his staff.

By operation of longstanding law, all of Fenty's staff were going to get a 6 week severance which would have come out of the personnel budget. For vindictive reasons, Cheh introduced a last-minute measure which would have unfairly deprived these staffers of their severance.

As a counter-measure, Fenty diverted job training funds so that innocent staffers would not have to suffer the vengeance of Mary Cheh.

If you are angry that job training funds were diverted, you should talk to Mary Cheh about it because, had she not initiated such an unfair and drastic measure, Fenty never would have had to touch those funds.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 22, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

So what else is new? Some trail!

Posted by: eabgarnet | December 22, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Too bad there wasn't a viable challenge to Mary Cheh's campaign this fall. Many people do not understand what a despicable and vengeful person she is. Thanks, amyhweiser, for the information. Still, I wish that Fenty had let the staffers and citizens of the city know why he felt he had to raid the job training funds.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 22, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

And why is this story buried in the Wire and not in the print version of the Post? Is that a Christmas present from the Post to Fenty? Shame on the Post.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 22, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

dccitizen1: When Cheh faces a challenge from a Democrat in her next primary, she will loss. She is wretched. Are you aware that Tommy Wells introduced a bill to limit a homeless shelter to DC residents, and Cheh's counter-proposal was that he could put the shelter in Ward 3, so long as the residency requirement was stricken?

Without even touching on this issue as to whether residents of Ward 3 will appreciate having a homeless shelter in their ward, one has to wonder why the benefits of a homeless shelter located in DC and funded with DC tax dollars should not, indeed, by limited to people disenfranchised of their homes in DC.

As to why Fenty chose the job fund: First, if it hadn't been that fund, it would have been another, and those who want to find fault with all things Fenty does would still be outraged. Second, Cheh's bill essentially deprived long-term staffers who are soon to be unemployed in hard economic times of a meager 6-week severance. Look at the issues: Jobs; severance; unemployment, bad economy. Seems to me that reaching into a job training fund to protect jobless people from losing still a bit of their livelihood was appropriate.

I hate to think that all of those who supported Gray and opposed Fenty are also feeble-minded enough to hate everyone who worked for him. They're people too; they need to find work and put bread on the table. Cheh's attempt to deprive them of a 6 week severance was inhumane. Where was the outrage then?

Here's a proposal: Cheh withdraws the bill; Fenty reverses the diversion of funds. Will Cheh do it? Never.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 22, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Cheh would have more compassion if the bill pertained to animals. Human beings? Nah, not a chance.

Interesting that Cheh is willing to have a homeless shelter in Ward 3 instead of making sure that DC taxes are limited to benefitting DC residents. Of course, she has not had a discussion with Ward 3 residents about this---she could not care less what Ward 3 residents think of such ideas.

And as long as the Post continues its love affair with Cheh, the general public won't pay attention to her terrible representation of the Ward.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 22, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse


The residents of DC need to have a dump truck unload a ton of coal on Fenty's front yard for a being nasty, naughty and nefarious Mayor.

Posted by: GoldCoast | December 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we should remind AmyHWieser that Anthony Williams was not VOTED OUT OF OFFICE and could make a legitimate claim to a severance for his staffers. Fenty and his crew, on the other hand, was FIRED for incompetence!! I hope you enjoy your undeserved severance.

Posted by: PepperDr | December 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Um, sorry, but the severance kicks in by law irrespective of whether an incumbent Mayor decides not to seek re-election or whether he does seek re-election and loses. Nice try though.

And FYI: I've never worked for the DC government, and have no skin in this game. But again, nice try.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 22, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Were the staff not legally entitled to severance pay? This was just a gift from Fenty (not using his own money)? Has it been done in the past? Why were job training funds used?

Posted by: Sutter | December 22, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

concernedaboutdc2 wrote: Anthony Williams outgoing staff received up to $60k bonuses and severance per person, running into the millions of $. This is normal to give minimal severance to outgoing management. The vile language here shows how ridiculous many of the people in this city are.
___________________________________________

First, very unique and creative name, did you come up with that all by yourself?

Anywho. Anthony Williams did not rob a program designed to provide Adult Education that would benefit the least among us and those who were unemployed. And I add, Anthony Williams left the Fenty Administration a billion dollar budget SURPLUS, Adrian Fenty is leaving the city in severe debt.

Fenty's sprint to add NEW employees to the rolls of the Executive Office of the Mayor after being defeated in the primary is what the legislation that Cheh crafted in an effort to protect the city from this severence abuse.

No vile language is necessary. Fenty's elitist extreme, self-hating racism posturing as progressive, liberal wealthy allegiance just shines through for all to see.

This maneuver to take away from the least to benefit the few was reckless and outside the scope of common decency. But, hey, I never called Fenty a decent person, so it is of no suprise to me.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 22, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

If Natwar Ghandi approves the reappropriation of these funds, the very first thing Gray should do in January is inform Ghandi that as of the end of his appointment, his services will no longer be necessary as the CFO of the District of Columbia.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 22, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Well one thing I give Fenty is that he stayed true from the start of his mayoral tenure to the end. Basically giving the council the F U sign the whole 4 yrs.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | December 22, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Well one thing I give Fenty is that he stayed true from the start of his mayoral tenure to the end. Basically giving the council the middle finger the whole 4 yrs.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | December 22, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Were these staffers the ones who specialized in pulling end runs around the City Council by shifting funds to other budgets so that its approval of contracts was avoided? Were these staffers involved in Mr. Fenty's fraternity brothers/cronies obtaining city contracts?

I seem to recall Ms. Cheh saying that the actions of the Fenty administration with respect to contracts were illegal. I don't know the woman and don't live in her ward, but perhaps that is why she did what she did and not sheer vindictiveness.

Posted by: upperdeck4 | December 22, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

When unemployment is 30% is some parts of the city and employers won't hire District residences due to lack of skills, yeah I say taking the money from the job training budget is disgusting but not surprising considering the source.
As for why wasn't this on the front page, have you noticed how many stories that may be possibly perceived as anti-Fenty appear in the blogs but not the paper? At the very least, maybe The Post can bump one of the weekly editorials on Harry Thomas to this issue. Yeah, probably not.

Posted by: Pearlsb4Swine1 | December 22, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

When unemployment is 30% is some parts of the city and employers won't hire District residences due to lack of skills, yeah I say taking the money from the job training budget is disgusting but not surprising considering the source.
As for why wasn't this on the front page, have you noticed how many stories that may be possibly perceived as anti-Fenty appear in the blogs but not the paper? At the very least, maybe The Post can bump one of the weekly editorials on Harry Thomas to this issue. Yeah, probably not.

Posted by: Pearlsb4Swine1 | December 22, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Fenty's actions were 100% unequivocally legal as allowed by statute passed by the DC Council. Excepted service employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of severance pay.

For a bit of history on Anthony Williams' excessive bonuses to Executive big wigs visit:
http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/bonuses-unjustified-excessive-dc-audit-says

Posted by: jmc39 | December 22, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

In Fenty lingo, 'staff' means frat brothers.

Posted by: slipuvalad | December 22, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The funny thing is - the amount diverted was just a shade under the threshold that would trigger the Council's involvement.

That alone makes me think that this was *not* above board.

And even if as amy has claimed repeatedly, the shuffling of funds is a response to Cheh's decisions, that's a spurious argument: Nothing "justifies" raiding one budget for something else.

If Cheh's decision was out of order, then it should have gone before the Council. Fenty bypassed any oversight of the entire thing, very deliberately.

And that, in the final analysis, is why the guy was voted out of office - he's too smooth, too slimy, and too cozy with his cronies.

In that, he was simply another DC politician.

Posted by: Moonwolf | December 22, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Sutter: By operation of law, all departing city employees were slated to receive a severance. Cheh introduced a bill to change that.

Upperdeckdc: Cheh's bill was aimed at depriving only a small group of Fenty employees of their severance. The group that she targeted were those who briefly left their city positions to work on the Fenty re-election campaign. After the campaign was over, those same employees returned to city positions.

Instead of viewing these employees as being on a continuum of years of city service, Cheh characterized those that returned from the campaign to city positions as "new hires". Her bill deprived those who had only been employed by the city "for a few weeks" of their severance. If you worked for Fenty as a political appointee and had no break in service during which you worked for his campaign, your severance was safe under Cheh's bill.

She says she took this measure in the interest of fiscal responsibility. But the facts speak for themselves: 80% of W3 supported Fenty, but the woman who was elected to represent the interests of W3 endorsed Gray.

The Fenty campaign stated, "Mary Cheh has chosen to align herself against education reform, against public safety and against the improvements of the last three years," and added "More importantly, she has shown she is more interested in cutting political deals than in listening to her neighbors."

Cheh's response was that those sentiments revealed "the real Fenty".

The hostility between Fenty's campaign and Mary Cheh is clear. It seems that Mary Cheh decided to retaliate by attempting to deprive those who worked on the campaign of their severance. The money that would have been saved by this bill is simply too small for it to have been an issue of "fiscal responsibility."

Moonwolf: The fact that Fenty chose to divert an amount just underneath that which would have triggered Council approval shows that he actually DID do this above board. As the Mayor, he has the discretion to move funds around as he sees fit, as long as the amount is below the level of $500,000. That's what he did. I fail to see how any "justification" is needed, but to the extent you are invoking the cliche that 2 wrongs do not make a right, I offer the cliche that Cheh started it.

Cheh behaves as an autocrat who is not interested in her constituents. The Gray endorsement was one example. Another is they way she responded to Tommy Wells' proposal to limit homeless shelters in DC its residents. Without consulting her constituents as to whether or where they would welcome a homeless shelter, she simply offered to house a shelter in W3 if Tommy Wells would table the bill the limit its services to DC residents. She didn't even consult her consituents as to whether they supported Wells' proposal. In Mary Cheh's view, a DC homeless shelter should be open to the world. And to Mary Cheh, her view is the only view that matters. She knows what's best for everyone.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 23, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

GO CHEH! Fenty has retaliated against many and I mean MANY, including city gov't workers, many of whom didn't receive a package for their services nor explanation, nor any respect when they lost their jobs. Let’s see does anyone remember how he got that DC Department of Recreation Worker fired who said he sons were too old to play in that particular league or what about Grace Wiggins?

All this boo-hoo it was legal and these folks deserve blah blah blah is totally crap. So now taxpayers are somehow supposed to feel sorry for these henchmen. As much underhanded, illegal actions that this administration has done, they should consider this a tap on hand.

Please keep it up Councilmember Cheh! Fenty et al. can dish it, but they sure can’t take it.

Politics is a contact sport.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | December 23, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

thelildiva4u: You seemed to have missed the entire point of this blog and the discussion. Cheh is not the winner here. Fenty is. He got the money for his staff.

Checkmate.

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 23, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

dear amyhweiser:
don't even waste your words... many here do not want to understand the reason, or the truth.. they just want to hate..
thank you for trying to explain.

happy holidays.

Posted by: pdv1 | December 23, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It's time to name names -- who will get this severance pay (and how much)? who were all the immediate pre-freeze Fenty hires (and what positions were they put in at what salaries? Focusing exclusively on the guy we just voted out of office doesn't give us the info we need to make informed choices in the future. Voters need to know who's involved and how these schemes work.

Posted by: smithhemb | December 24, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Good luck getting all that info! Maybe Santa will give it to you!!

Posted by: amyhweiser | December 24, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

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