City Desk

Pershing Park Case: Mendelson Cites More False Statements From Nickles

Today, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson joined former Councilmember Kathy Patterson in fact-checking AG Peter Nickles' increasingly faulty sworn statement regarding the troubled Pershing Park case.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had ordered the city's attorney general to submit a sworn statement explaining the evidentiary problems in a Pershing Park case. Nickles and OAG attorney Tom Koger submitted their statements on August 12 [read their statements in full].

This week, Patterson sent a letter to Sullivan outlining the various factual problems she had with Nickles' statement. Now comes Mendelson writing to Nickles. Mendo points out several mistakes in Nickles' statement to Sullivan.

All of the errors are both obvious and unnecessary. The take away:  Does Nickles really care about the Pershing Park case? Should he be the one leading an investigation into the missing and botched police evidence?

Mendelson tells City Desk that he is undecided on whether to open an investigation. But he says there will be oversight hearings on the controversy.

"What troubles me besides the hot water the city is in with Judge Sullivan, what troubles me is we repeatedly have these problems with getting accurate information," Mendelson says, citing the DeOnte Rawlings shooting case and the Fire Truck dustup.

Mendelson says the council will be looking into the missing evidence in the Pershing Park case.

Now on to the letter.

Nickles had claimed to Sullivan that the D.C. Council had rebuffed efforts by the Fenty Administration to allocate money for a "District-wide document management system that also would have addressed OAG document management needs."

In his letter, Mendo points out that his Judiciary Committee oversees the OAG and, well, the need for a new document system has never been brought to his attention during oversight hearings.

Mendo goes on to quote Nickles' own statements during oversight hearings from April 4, 2008 and March 26, 2009. In the March testimony, the AG concluded his statement with this: "We are grateful that the Mayor, the Committee, and the Council support our important work and that this budget allows us to continue our operations."

Mendo points out that on page "A-162 of the FY 2009 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan for the Office of the Attorney General," there is a one-line entry for an electronic management system costing $400,000. He writes that the proposed $400,000 managment system was left in tact by the Council. "It is funded in the current fiscal year," Mendelson states.

Another graph in Nickles' statement stumped Mendelson. Nickles wrote to Sullivan:

"I am disappointed to report that for Fiscal Year 2009 the Council reduced the OAG budget by over two million dollars, and for Fiscal Year 2010, the Council reduced the OAG budget further by almost three million dollars, which certainly will result in a reduction in force of present staff."

Mendo's response: "These statements are also incorrect." He points out that the council adopted Fenty's FY2009 budget request for the OAG "without reducing it one cent." Even the revised budget did not reduce Nickles' budget. He goes on to detail the FY2010 numbers:

"The Council's actions regarding the FY2010 budget are more complicated, but the total OAG budget will be about 3.5% greater than FY2009. This increase includes $315,000 which the Council added—above the Mayor's request—to fund non-personal expenses related to litigation support."

Mendelson goes further. But the conclusion is this: Nickles' claims that OAG's budget got cut or will get cut are false. "The bottom line is that the Council did not cut $3 million from the OAG's FY2010 budget, the OAG's budget will grow in FY2010, and the OAG's litigation support budget will grow," Mendelson wrote.

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  • AngryER than Al

    Patterson and Mendo need to have their statements notarized and swear that they are true.... then the Judge should issue a warrant for Nickles arrest and charge him with purgury among other things. Isn't that what he and Fenty want to do to every other Govt employee? Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Truth Hurts

    It should be relatively easy to determine whether Mendo or Nickles is right on the OAG budget cut issue. I hope Judge Sullivan focusses on this point. There'll be hell to pay if incorrect sworn statements were submitted to a federal judge.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Yes, we need all the suspects hauled into open court, put under oath, questioned by plaintiffs' lawyers, AG lawyers, & Judge Sullivan. Then Judge Sullivan should decide who is telling the truth & who is lying or obfuscating, & mete out justice accordingly.

    As for Mendo's charges, if he had any backbone, he'd have already scheduled hearings. Again, get the people involved in the open hearings room, put them under oath, & proceed accordingly.

    This is simple stuff, Mendo. Get to work, man.

  • Truth Hurts

    Al, recently you've been softening your rhetoric and choosing your words more thoughtfully. From my perspective, it helps you make your points far more effectively (and demonstrates you have keen insight on many DC issues). I hope you'll keep it up. Please don't call me an a..hole now. Id'd validate your blogger enemies. (I know, you don't care what they think, but hopefully you take seriously what I believe).

    Sorry for the sappy post .... too much Aguardiente.

  • Isn’t it Obvious?

    Angry Al,

    I agree with you that hearing should be held. However, as you probably already know, the Council is on recess and therefore hearings can't be scheduled or held until they return. Also, if you look at the history of AG Nickles, he often refuses to allow agency directors and other involved in scandal investigations to testify at Council hearings. What makes us believe he will testify himself or allow others to testify?

  • Concernedaboutdc

    Goodness, where has Kathy Patterson been? That is one council member that I had the utmost respect for. She should consider running for Mayor. She always struck me as being exceptionally professional with a firm grasp of issues that were before her committee.

    I actually am hopeful that Sullivan finds that the District's AG has lied to him in a sworn statement. It is time overdue for Nickles to get a reality check that makes it clear that he is not above the law. Taking political jabs at the District Council through a sworn testimony is inappropriate and disrespectful to judicial time. Much worse, if the statements are blatantly false.

    Nickles opened up a box of worms, considering what Mendelson has said is correct, that $400,000 was given as a line item in the 2009 budget for a new management system in the OAG, if it is not in place, where has the money gone? What was it used for? We are at the END of 2009.

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  • candycane1

    Get em Mendo!!!! Make him pay for all the crap the city has had to take from him. tThen we can say one dipstick down and one dipstick mayor to go.

  • candycane1

    When asked, "Do you have any regrets?" the AG's answer is that he regrets not being harder on the city council. I think he was speaking of a time before he became the AG but it seems obvious that there is a mindset to be uncooperative and down right lawless in his new position. He really needs to go.

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