The head of the city's problem-plagued, mixup-ridden summer jobs for youth program has been removed from his post, apparently under pressure from mayor Marion Barry.
John M. Anderson was dismissed as jobs chief after Barry reportedly received widespread complaints of confusion and disorganization in the program's first two weeks. The ouster also follows one well-publicized mixup in which hundreds of youths failed to get paychecks for two weeks of work.
Barry, who has publicly expressed his commitment to the program and his displeasure in its operation, met early this week with Anderson's boss. In the words of a highly placed city government source, Barry told the official to make changes or "suffer the consequences himself."
This official, Employment Services director William R. Ford, said yesterday that Anderson had been "moved to a staff position" elsewhere in the jobs program. Rudolph Von Slaughter has headed the Comprehensive employment Training Act [CETA] program.
Complaints about summer jobs suggest difficulties that could menace a program Barry has promoted for two years as a major attack on the pressing urban youth problems of joblessness and lack of constructive activity.
The goverment source said Barry had received complaints "from all parts of the city" that youths were not being properly supervised on their jobs, were showing up at work sites unfit for them to work at, and that too few or too many youths were showing up for jobs at the same work site.
Alan F. Grip, spokesman for the mayor, said Anderson's removal was "Bill Ford's decision," not Barry's. Grip said he knew "nothing at all" about any pressure Barry may have put on Ford, or of any complaints the mayor had received about the jobs program.
But at a press conference last Wednesday, Barry acknowledged he was "very unhappy" with numerous problems afflicting the jobs program, some of which he blamed on non-city personnel.
Some of the programs most severe problems cropped up last week when some 1,800 youths failed to receive their paychecks for two weeks of work at recreation centers, in clean-up crews or at filing and typing jobs in government agencies. On Wednesday, about 60 demonstrators from one worksite confronted department officials at the agency's offices demanding overdue checks.
Ford said yesterday such payroll problems occurred because the time cards for the youths had been improperly filled out, either by employment services employees or by the supervisors at the various city agencies where the youths are employed.
Ford insisted yesterday that Anderson had not been removed as director because of the pay roll problems. He said Von Slaughter, as head of the department's employability development branch was always the ultimate head of the summer jobs program, which comes under his division. But now Von Slaughter will oversee the day-to-day operations of the program.
Von Slaughter described as a close associate of city administrator Elijah Rogers, came to the city last spring from Florida.
Anderson's removal is part of an overall shake-up in the program. Ford said that because of the payroll mix-ups last week, more employers will be added to the payroll division and the number of work-site monitors is to collect the payroll records from the various work sites.
Last week, three other coordinators were removed from their jobs because employment services officials were not pleased with their performance.
The mayor said at his press conference Wednesday that all of the youths who were not paid would receive checks by the end of that day.
Ford said yesterday, however, between 100 and 150 still had not been paid as of yesterday. "What you must not forget is 9,000 checks came out of the system on time. And close to 14,000 or 14,200 individuals have been paid," he said.
Anderson and the other program officials had pledged this year to correct many of the problems with payroll and organization that have plagued the summer program in years past. A new procedure, by which payroll records were centralized, was instituted to make sure the youngsters were paid correctly and on time. But apparently the system is not yet perfect.
The summer jobs program was one of the major planks in Barry's 1978 campaign platform. Last year, he pledged to put 30,000 youths to work but, according to congressional audits, fell far short of the goal and the program was plagued with snafus.
This year, the city's worsening financial crunch forced a reduction in the number of targeted jobs from 30,000 to 20,000. As of last Monday, the city had found jobs for 18,340 youths, all 14-to-21 years old.