Truth-tellers, liars and equivocators

Fenty made jobs money wait its turn

September 3, 2010 - 11:00 AM
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If there's a policy area Vince Gray has hammered Adrian Fenty on, it's jobs. He routinely declares that he's the only candidate with a jobs and economic development plan, and talks about the historic unemployment rates east of the river.

During Wednesday's debate, Gray repeated something we've heard him say several times before: that the Fenty administration had failed to spend $4.6 million in adult job training funds allocated by the D.C. council.

The money was intended to either provide grants to outside groups that run job training programs, or to bolster existing programs within the Department of Employment Services, which is managing the money.

So the money was there, and the mayor just decided not to spend it, even though unemployment hit 12 percent in January?

Over at the D.C. Jobs Council's blog, Work In The City, there's an exhaustive history of the jobs fund, which was included in D.C.'s fiscal year 2010 budget. To keep it short, the money was never spent and the District has yet to even put out a request for proposals, which would start any grant process.

While the blog post was written a month ago, the Jobs Council's Marina Streznewski, who wrote the post, said the information in it was still accurate.

A Department of Employment Services spokesperson, Dy Brown, said the department needed to spend federal stimulus money dedicated to workforce development first.

"We have to spend all the money by [mid-September] or it goes back to the feds," Brown said.

The department will spend the District-supplied money, Brown insisted, just after they finish spending the stimulus cash. Fortunately, Streznewski said, the council made sure the money wouldn't disappear at the end of the city's fiscal year in October, giving the department plenty of time to spend it.

It looks like a logjam prevented the $4.6 million in job training funds from getting out, but Gray was still right when he said the money hadn't been spent yet. He gets an Honest Abe.

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