The board of the quasi-governmental nonprofit Thomas used to divert $446,000 in funds intended for children has selected a new chairman.
It’s Robert C. Bobb, the former city administrator who was named to the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.’s board just last month by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D). Given Bobb’s stature and the timing of his appointment shortly after a management shakeup, the vote is not surprising.
He replaces Winifred Carson-Smith, a D.C. Council appointee who took over the board chair after Thomas’s thefts has ended.
A Trust news release said Carson-Smith would continue to serve on the board, but Smith indicated in an e-mail today that she tendered her resignation to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) Thursday night.
Bobb said in a statement that he’s “eager to get started and help contribute to the work of the Trust.” What the “work of the Trust” entails could soon change, however.
While Thomas is now headed to jail, more shoes could drop on and around the trust, as federal authorities continue investigating the full scope of his fraud. And note a recent D.C. Council review of the Trust, led by Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), found that Thomas’s scheme could have not have succeeded without Trust officials bending rules or otherwise ignoring signs that something could be amiss.
Under the fiscal 2013 budget recommendations passed by Graham’s Human Services Committee, the Trust is likely to get $3 million from the D.C. government next year — same as the previous year. That’s a level at which the Trust is “barely surviving,” according to the executive director of the D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates.
But Graham is also calling for the establishment of a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” to “consider and present recommendations on possible structural reforms needed at the Trust.” This, after the Trust board under Carson-Smith came up with some reforms of its own.
One of those reforms might be to formalize a ban on the council earmarking the funds it sends to the Trust. Thomas used earmarks to ease the path funds took from city coffers into his wallet. Earmarking was common in the years when Thomas did the bulk of his stealing, though it has since all but disappeared, mostly because there’s less money to go around.
It has not disappeared completely. Contained in Graham’s budget report is a directive to dedicate $250,000 of the $3 million “to sustain competitive, city-wide grants to support targeted gang intervention and outreach” — a “competitive” earmark, but an earmark nonetheless.