Back in March, when questions were raised about Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s employment practices after the hiring and firing of Sulaimon Brown, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the resumes of the Gray administrations political appointments. The initial request was denied, but I am now happy to say, six months later, that the request has been granted, thanks to the diligence of the D.C. Open Government Coalition.
The DCOGC has posted the resumes on its Web site. (Washington Post attorney Jim McLaughlin is member of the group’s board and suggested pursuing an appeal to the denial of my request.)
The resumes show the vast majority of Gray appointees to be well qualified for their jobs. At least one, however, was not. The resume for Leroy Ellis, hired as a $125,000 a year special assistant in the employment service department, shows no employment or job training experience since 1982. The D.C. Council report released last month deemed Ellis’s hiring to be “cronyism,” determining that he was “not well qualified to help lead the Department of Employment Services and was not hired because of his experience.”
He remains in the position. In council testimony earlier this year, Ellis said his work three decades ago for the District government qualifies him for the position he now holds.
Two lessons here:
First: Sunshine matters. It’s hard for a government to get away with crony hiring if its appointees’qualifications are made public, and credit goes to the Gray administration for (belatedly) making good on its commitments to transparency and openness.
Second: The city’s transparency laws are only as strong as the people willing to fight for them, and thanks to the DCOGC, citizens trying to get public information from the government have a powerful ally. (That includes journalists and news institutions, who today have fewer resources then they once had to fight these types of battles.) If you’re having trouble securing public information from the D.C. government, do get in touch and see if they can help.
UPDATE, 4 P.M.: Here are the resumes: