A D.C. City Council committee yesterday tabled for the rest of the year a proposal to put welfare recipients into jobs, after the sponsor of one version of the workfare plan angrily accused committee Chairman Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) of gutting his bill and turning it into "a sham."
Council member John Ray (D-At Large) had introduced a bill to begin a pilot program for recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) that would include education and job training, placement in jobs subsidized by the city, and support services such as group health insurance and child care.
Ray's bill was cosponsored by 11 of the 12 other council members. However, Mayor Marion Barry's administration opposed Ray's bill as well as a more far-reaching proposal by council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) that would require all welfare recipients to perform community service work for the government or nonprofit agencies. The administration proposed a plan that essentially would coordinate current programs to help welfare recipients find jobs.
Shackleton, a longtime ally of the mayor, introduced another workfare proposal to her Human Services Committee yesterday requiring the mayor to prepare a plan for training welfare recipients and helping them get unsubsidized employment, with the plan subject to the approval of the City Council. Each program participant would get job training and placement, day care for children, work expense stipends and individual assessments.
Ray contended that Shackleton's draft bill gave the administration what it wants, "which is nothing."
"I was shocked to get your proposal," Ray told Shackleton, adding that he had received it only the day before yesterday's meeting. It reduced his 45-page bill to six pages, he said, and mainly would allow the executive branch to continue its current policies.
"It's a sham," Ray said of the bill. He then moved to table the legislation, which the committee agreed to by voice vote, with Shackleton abstaining.
Both Shackleton and Ray agreed later that the action kills workfare legislation for this year, but Ray said he would reintroduce a proposal next year. Shackleton is retiring from the council at the end of the year.
Shackleton later expressed surprise at Ray's attitude, saying she thought her proposal had incorporated key elements of both Ray's and Crawford's bills and given the council members the input they wanted by requiring that the mayor's plan be subject to council approval.
"I'm sorry about it the tabling of the bill , because we really tried to come up with something" that incorporated the best elements of both, Shackleton said.