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December 3, 2004
Who Hired Cornelia Spinner?

Washington DC often complains about its Constitutional status as a protectorate of the federal government and its inability to produce representation to Congress. The city has long campaigned for statehood, a move resisted by a Congress loathe to go through an amendment process and blocked by Republicans who see no need to give Democrats two easy seats in the Senate. Washingtonians don't make their case any easier with their inept management of their city government, either; they notoriously continued to elect Marion Barry to leadership positions despite the repeated embarrassment he caused in office.

The Washington Times reports this morning on another scandal to hit DC. The former director of their education office, who resigned in scandal after an audit found fraudulent travel reimbursements and misuse of federal funds, managed to get another job in education with the city at a six-figure salary -- and no one can figure out who hired her:

The former director of the D.C. State Education Office (SEO) who quit five months ago amid charges of mismanagement was rehired within months to another city government post with a six-figure salary. Cornelia V. "Connie" Spinner resigned June 30 as director of the education office, where city auditors uncovered improprieties in travel expenses and misuse of federal grant dollars. But she was hired Aug. 16 for a $105,393-a-year job running an adult-literacy program, which the city moved that month from SEO jurisdiction to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). ...

The new job provided Ms. Spinner with fewer responsibilities but a paycheck nearly matching the $105,579 per year that she gave up at the education office. She went from running an agency with an $81 million budget, about 50 employees and 7 programs, to overseeing a single program with a $2 million budget and about 21 employees.

After Spinner's miraculous -- and pricey -- resurrection to a city management post, the mayor's office spent a day trying to determine who hired her back. Mayor Anthony Williams' spokesperson, Sharon Gang, announced that it wasn't them and they had no authority to hire anyone into the position:

"Here's what I found out," Ms. Gang said. "When it was determined that the adult-literacy program would be more appropriately housed and run by UDC, Connie Spinner was hired as a university employee to run the program. She has prior experience in the field of adult education and is qualified to administer the program from UDC."

She has prior experience with funds disappearing, too, which one would think should have an impact on whether a candidate is "qualified" to administer any government program. Apparently, in DC at least, creativity is coveted more than honesty and competecncy.

As for the UDC, no one over there wants to take credit for providing Ms. Spinner with a chance at rehabilitation, either:

"Ms. Spinner came to the university to run the adult-literacy program in the same capacity she held when the program fell under District control," [UDC spokesman] Mr. Andrews said. "The university hired her because she came with the grant that supported the program."

Perhaps DC should hire Ms. Spinner as a procurement agent instead of an education manager. She managed to only lose $200 while whittling her budget responsibilities by 96% and cutting her staff by almost 60%. She should negotiate my terms of employment!

The incompetence of the DC leadership structure should warn Americans from giving DC politicians any higher status than they've managed to achieve. If DC continues to elect drug addicts and appoint incompetents and frauds, none of whom can even keep adequate HR records to determine who hired whom for key management positions, they're clearly incompetent to join Congress. And let me tell you, that's an insult that hurts.

UPDATE: The salary difference was $200, not $2,000 as I originally wrote. I've corrected the post. (Hat tip: krm)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 3, 2004 6:38 AM

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