D.C.’s Inspector General: The Worst? Or the Worst?
Just when you thought the Inspector General Charles Willoughby could not be any worse at his job, he goes and drops reporting showing that his investigators spent significant time doing surveillance on a city employee who was breaking parking laws.
The new IG report details how the $15 million-a-year watchdog agency nailed a DCRA employee who was improperly using a handicap sticker from Maryland to park for free.
Between July 2011 and September 2012, OIG investigators conducted 22 surveillances during which the DCRA employee's vehicle2 was observed parked in the vicinity of 1101 4”' Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., at metered parking spaces, with the MD disability placard hanging from the rearview mirror. On four of those occasions, OIG investigators observed the DCRA employee exiting or entering the vehicle alone. On each of the 22 occasions, OIG investigators observed both the parking meter andthe dashboard of the DCRA employee’s vehicle and saw that the DCRA employee had made no payment for the use of the metered space.
IG investigators confronted the parking scofflaw in April of this year. He said he'd already gone clean and had stopped using the handicap sticker. But like any world-class investigator, the IG wouldn't let the case drop so easily.
OIG investigators, however, observed the DCRA employee’s vehicle parked using the MD disability placard, without evidence of payment for use of the metered spaces, on nine occasions subsequent to April 5, 2012, (May 22, 2012, May 24, 2012, June 13, 2012, June 14, 2012, June 26, 2012, July 2, 2012, August 19, 2012, August 21, 2012, and September 10, 2012). On May 24, 2012, OIG investigators observed the DCRA employee’s vehicle at approximately 12:15 p.m., and again at approximately 4:30 p.m., parked on Makemi Place, S.W., Washington, D.C. at an expired parking meter. The MD disability placard was displayed on the rearview mirror and no parking validation coupon was displayed on the dashboard.
The IG also busted an employee from the District's Office of Integrity and Oversight running the same scam. "It is what it is—bad judgment," the employee said when confronted with her misdeeds.
Speaking of bad judgment, who in their right mind thinks this is a good use of the IG's time and money? Is there not more important and impactful wrongdoing in District government to be investigated? Alas, the IG has not responded to phone calls seeking comment.
But it's not like this is new territory, as Willoughby routinely embarrasses himself. A recent spectacle includes his brief report on the procurement of the city's lottery contract, a subject that's currently under federal investigation. The IG looked into allegations that Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham had tried to leverage his vote on the lottery contract into getting his desired result on a Metro development. The IG found "insufficient evidence" that Graham had done anything wrong. But a recent independent investigation commissioned by Metro found that Graham had broken that organization's code of conduct, prompting the District's newly formed Board of Ethics to launch its own inquiry into Graham's behavior.
"After reading Metro’s report, Willoughby should resign in shame," Post columnist Colby King wrote recently.
How about after sending his investigators to conduct surveillance on an illegal parker?