Key sections of a report criticizing D.C. finance officials were removed yesterday by a City Council committee that investigated the city's investment of nearly $100 million with a New Jersey-based securities firm that later went bankrupt.
Excised from the report, which was written by council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), was a recommendation that former assistant D.C. treasurer Fred Williams be fired and an assertion that Deputy Mayor for Finance Alphonse G. Hill, Controller N. Anthony Calhoun and Williams were derelict in carrying out their duties.
Wilson said he thought the move to amend the report by the Finance and Revenue Committee indicated a lack of willingness by council members to challenge Mayor Marion Barry's administration.
"It is very difficult to mount any investigation of anybody in the government at this time," he said.
Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), one of two council members who blocked Wilson's version of the report, said he didn't think the council should suggest any personnel actions while a criminal investigation is ongoing.
"These people have families. They have aspirations and careers," Crawford said. "There are courts of law. I don't think they should be tried in the press."
Council member Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) also opposed Wilson's original report.
A grand jury is investigating charges that Hill steered auditing contracts to an accounting firm in exchange for financial considerations. Hill has strongly denied the charges.
The amended report, which was approved by the committee with only Wilson, the chairman, dissenting, retained Wilson's recommendations that the city tighten its guidelines for cash management and fire any employe who gives false testimony or submits altered documents to the council.
The report concluded an investigation that began last May when cash management officials testified at a hearing about the city's decision to invest with Bevill, Bresler & Schulman Inc., the firm that went bankrupt.
A central figure in the hearings was senior cash management analyst Alvin C. Frost, who had advised against dealing with the firm and who last month charged senior finance officials with corrupt practices. Williams, who was Frost's boss, admitted to council members in May that he had provided the council with a backdated memo justifying the investment with BB&S Inc.
Frost was fired by the city this week for altering a computer code and refusing to reveal it to his superiors. Williams has been reassigned at his own request.