Lorethea Davis's maid said Davis was not at her home overlooking Rock Creek Park all Tuesday night, a day after the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report that said Davis had been wrongfully employed by the D.C. City Council with federal grant money intended for hiring the poor and disadvantaged.
Davis was, however, at her new job yesterday as City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker's appointment secretary. She got that job June 26, apparently as a promotion from her job in the public service unit of Tucker's office, where she was paid $11,000 yearly under the federal government's Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).
The promotion came just in time to keep Davis out of the unemployment line.The Labor Department's report ordered the city to fire Davis and repay all the salary she had received from the CETA program if the city cannot provide "justification for such hiring."
According to the Labor Department, Davis got her CETA job before she passed any of the requirements that would have made her eligible for the job. And, the department report said, Davis did not use normal procedures in applying for the job.
". . . Through a personal interview," the report said, "information was obtained that (Davis) presented the application (form) to the secretary of the council and had personal conversations with other officials."
Normally, applicants for a CETA job would apply to the city's Department of Manpower, which would forward the application to the council secretary.
Earlier in the Labor Department report, Davis is described as the "wife of a local dentist who is a supporter of the council chairman." Campaign contribution statements show that Davis' husband, Howard C. Davis, donated more than $650 to Tucker's 1974 campaign for the council chairman's seat. This year Howard Davis, a dentist, has given about $150 to Tucker's campaign treasury.
Howard Davis is also a vice president of the Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association of Washington.
The Davis house at 1900 Plymouth St. NW was purchased for $88,500 in February 1972. The house was assessed at $104,000 in 1975, and in that year a second mortgage was taken out on the house for $130,000, according to documents on file at the District's recorder of deeds.
Tucker was asked to justify his hiring of Davis at a forum for mayoral candidates Tuesday night. He said Davis was eligible for the job because she was unemployed for 30 days before she began working for the council.
"Let me say this," Tucker said to the man who asked him the question before an audience of 150 persons in the auditorium of People's Congregation Church. "I know of nobody presently on CETA payroll working for the council staff who ought not be there . . . no one who is not qualified to be there, who has not met the requirements. The problem is that the Labor Department guidelines are not clear."
Later, Tucker told a reporter: "Look, she (Davis) is a person like anyone else and she has a right to work. She was unemployed. CETA is not just for the disadvantaged. I don't know if she has a lot of money but under the law she qualifies."
However, according to Hugh Davis, chief of the Labor Department's division of program planning for CETA, the Washington City Council did violate at least one section of the CETA legislation by hiring Davis.
"Under the provisions of section 205, C-7," Davis said reading from CETA regulations, "special considerations in filling transitional public service jobs will be given to unemployed persons who are the most severely disadvantaged in terms of the length of time they have been unemployed and their prospect for finding employment . . ."
Davis said the law governing who can be hired with CETA funds was strengthened in October 1976 to limit CETA employes to persons who have been umployed for the last 15 weeks and who are economically disadvantaged. Davis gave as an example of an economically disadvantaged person one who is a member of a family of four that has an income of $6,500 or less.
Reached by telephone yesterday, Lorethea Davis declined to discuss how she had gotten the CETA job. When told about the Labor Department report, she said she "could live with report." Her husband did not return several telephone calls to his office or to his answering service. CAPTION: Picture, Lorethea Davis' home overlooking Rock Creek Park was valued at $104,000 in 1975, By Margaret Thomas - The Washington Post