Loose Lips

Should CYITC Boss Get the Boot?

Youth advocates can probably rest assured that the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the city-funded nonprofit that doles out grants to other nonprofits, isn't going away.

The CYITC's been under a harsh spotlight ever since disgraced former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty to using the trust to help him fleece taxpayers of more than $350,000.

Immediately after Thomas' plea, Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown indicated he wanted the CYITC shut down. But he's backed off that position, and the general sentiment around the Wilson Building is that the trust needs to be reformed, not done away with. Still, that hasn't stopped the trust from paying $6,000 to commission a study justifying it's own existence and the need for additional funding.

At the council's yearly oversight hearing for the trust today, both Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham and Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells indicated that they think the CYITC is worth saving.

The real question, it seems to LL, isn't whether the trust has a future, but whether that future includes its current CEO, Ellen London.

Graham grilled London for a couple of hours at today's hearing over her role in the Thomas saga. London was a vice president in charge of communications and government relations during the period when Thomas was using the trust to do his stealing. Today, Graham read aloud emails obtained from the trust showing that 1) London was kept in the loop involving the funding for the pass-through organization Thomas used to do most of his stealing, 2) she spent part of her time making sure that the pass-through was paid on time, and 3) she knew there were problems with the paperwork being submitted by Thomas' staffer on behalf of that pass-through organization.

None of that means London had any inkling that Thomas was stealing city money, but it does raise questions about whether she was too accommodating in a situation where there were, in the words of Graham, "lots of flags."

Unfortunately, London's been prevented from sharing her side of the story because the U.S. Attorney's Office is still investigating the whole affair.

But if the trust is trying to rebuild its brand and move forward, can someone who, fairly or unfairly, is now linked to the Thomas fiasco play a part in that rebuilding effort? Remember that the trust's former director, Millicent West, has already lost her job as head of the city's homeland security agency for how she dealt with Thomas.

In theory, only the trust's board can decide London's future. But that doesn't mean the District's elected officials won't soon weigh in.

"It's a good question," says Wells of whether London deserves to keep her gig. "And I will consider giving my advice to the board."

Photo by Alan Suderman

  • the irony

    ok, graham is concerned that london didn't interfere in cyitc payouts. getting overly involved in gov't awards is something he knows very well.

  • controlboardadvisor

    London should most certainly get the boot with a taxpayer's foot in it.

  • RealDC

    Now, why do we need to keep this organization? So the crooks can keep on stealing!

    Oh, surely we expect this current council to clean its own self up, right.

    The inmates are going to fix the jail, that always works.

  • Skipper

    London has to go.

    And The Grahamstander complaining about the Trust making decisions based on constant interference from Council members is just beyond hypocricy. I wonder if his name pops up on any Trust emails?

  • jimbo

    When will councilmartyr grow a pair. Wells is as complicit as anyone on the board of the 'trust."

  • wow

    Graham himself has used the trust to get grants... what the fock?

  • dcvoterboy

    What courage our Councilmembers are showing now that Thomas has pleaded guilty and resigned from the Council and demanding oversight.

    Where was this outrage and demands for accountability over the last several years when this was all happening or even when A.G's Nickles and Irvin were asking serious questions about Thomas' activities?

    I also hope this idea of making the trust a DC Government run commission goes nowhere. Seems like not a very good idea to fold a private non-profit into the government just so the Council can entirely control the budget and leadership of the organization.

  • Inside looking out

    West had a history of pushing out anyone who questioned her or stood in her way. London chose employment over ethics....you decide

  • NE John

    The outrage was in my belly, dcvoterboy, IN MY BELLY!

  • Ward 5

    London avoided answering key questions....she couldn't remember anything even when her name was on the paper...how do you like that. get rid of her