Housing Complex

Gray Makes Fenty-esque Defense of OPEFM

A head scratcher. (Darrow Montgomery)

In a report issued last week that took two years to put together, the D.C. auditor found that the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization had committed a host of improprieties under now-City Administrator Allen Lew. The charges mostly had to do with recordkeeping, but also included an allegedly cozy relationship between an OPEFM procurement manager and a construction company that received school contracts.

Put on the spot about it at his weekly press conference, master-of-process Vince Gray responded very much like his predecessor might have: Well it turned out all right in the end, didn't it? "Our schools look better today than they have ever looked in the District of Columbia," he told a packed briefing room. "The product of what they did is quite evident. I talk to parents all the time, and a lot of parents are very appreciative of the physical environment."

Then, to make things doubly awkward, Gray said that auditor Deborah Nichols had done a great job during his time as chair of the Council, and he reappointed her without hesitation. But according to Lew, she couldn't accomplish fairly basic auditing tasks, like asking the Chief Financial Officer for records.

"I didn't quite understand how the auditors were conducting this thing," Lew said. "It's all in the records. For some reason, the auditor couldn't find them." The bottom line, Lew said, was that shit got built—and built well—despite a system that had been in "absolute paralysis."

"OPEFM intentionally dispensed with much of the bureaucracy and top-hamper that traditionally impeded progress, and instead assembled a highly qualified team of construction and development professionals with proven track records of implementing sophisticated projects," Lew wrote in his 11-page response to the audit.

  • Skipper

    Lew got the schools rebuilt (overbudget and late) by cutting lots of corners. Dig deeper!

  • What the flocka???

    Skipper, you got that right!!! Such as kitchen ceiling caving-in, classrooms experiencing leaking and water-damaged ceilings, gymnasium water damaged, jagged-edges on metal work, paint-job that is awful, bathroom toilets that couldn't handle flushes and so on.

    Well, if we are supposedly to be happy! Then gosh-darn it I guess we should be happy as shit,per Lew's observation. I am assuming that OPFEM motto is Same Shit but Different Day.

  • Terry Miller

    A LOT of money was expended very quickly during the Fenty administration, and there was not much concern about process, just getting things done. Now, Gray is keeping quite a few of the Fenty top leaders and I think that he needs to stress to them that the rules are the rules, and that the free-wheeling ways under the Fenty administration are gone.

    As for Lew, my limited experience with him indicates that he is not the best choice for a city administrator, he is inexperienced and ineffective in his present post. He needs to go back to what he does best, building buildings!

  • Ronin

    You can say what you want about the Deputy Mayor, but in the end over the last few years nearly all the schools have been modernized after being neglected for the last 30 years... TRUTH... take a visit, ask a parent that had children in a school 5 years ago to take a tour today... Night and day.

  • Drez

    Results speak for themselves. Much better than Dorothy and Gary do, by the way.

  • Anonymous, Too

    ...construction and development professionals with proven track records of implementing sophisticated projects," Lew wrote...

    Yeah, like Keith Lomax, Fenty's PG County BFF and former "chauffeur" (until Deborah Nichols put the hammer down on that nonsense). Too bad OPEFM's files for Lomax's RBK Landscaping and Construction did not contain "6 purchase orders and supporting documentation for payments totaling $9,756,525."

    Be careful, Vince. Fenty's mantra was "the end justifies the means" and look how well that worked out for him. Time to clean house.