Catania Abruptly Cancels Hearing on Barry Earmarks
This afternoon, LL and other reporters hoping to follow his Friday scoop showed up to a Wilson Building hearing room to hear testimony on grants earmarked last year by Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry.
We were all disappointed.
At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, who called the hearing to examine the role of "fiscal agents" in administering Department of Health grants, read an opening statement then announced he was recessing the hearing.
In his remarks, Catania explained that he had intended a "hearing of limited scope" about the fiscal agent relationships and "irregularities in the administration" of a particular grant, to Clean and Sober Inc., run by Sharon Wise. Wise, he explained, had contacted him about a contractual dispute, and Catania says he moved to resolve it, but was stymied when Brenda Richardson, Barry's constituent services maven and a key player in the dispute, declined to cooperate via a statement from her lawyer, A. Scott Bolden that cited an ongoing Inspector General investigation.
"Since our inquiry began," Catania said, "new and very serious additional allegations have been made public relating to this and other grants, involving Ms. Richardson in her capacity as constituent services employee to Mr. Barry." Catania went on to mention several of the allegations mentioned in City Paper's story published Friday night.
Said Catania, "If these allegations are true, and in light of the fact that these are public funds, the entities in question are arguably illegitimate....These accusations are extremely serious and should be reviewed. Given the timing of some of the information, the Committee is not prepared to delve into this matter this afternoon. In fact, given the allegations, I believe these matters are better reviewed by the Inspector General in their entirety. At the very least, each of these allegations should be investigated and a full accounting of all receipts and expenditures of the referenced entities should be conducted."
Waiting in the hearing room to testify was S. Patrice Sheppard, co-founder of Lydia's House, the group tasked with overseeing a $75,000 grant to Clean and Sober Inc.—one of the six groups created and operated by aides and associates of Barry that received earmarked funds in fiscal 2009.
She handed LL a prepared statement, saying that Lydia's House had been "asked if we would serve as the fiscal agent on behalf of" Clean and Sober.
LL asked who did the asking. Said Sheppard, "Brenda Richardson."
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