Loose Lips

This Is What D.C. Job Training Looks Like

A D.C. green job training program that, according to some participants, involved little more than passing out free energy-efficient light bulbs door to door is under investigation by the Department of Employment Services, according to an agency spokeswoman.

LL wrote about L.S. Caldwell & Associates' questionable publicly funded job training program in January. Caldwell's owner, Loretta Caldwell, said at the time that her program was providing valuable training and that the participants who were complaining to LL were unreasonably disgruntled.

Ron Hantz, one of those unhappy participants, says that after LL's story ran, Caldwell shifted the program's focus dramatically. Instead of handing out free light bulbs or sitting at booths at Home Depot, the job trainees were instead sent to D.C.'s many museums and tasked with writing reports about various exhibits. For instance, at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, Hantz says Caldwell wanted a report on an exhibit detailing the effects of climate change. At the Museum of American History, the green job trainees were told to record their thoughts about an exhibit on electricity, Hantz says.

Thomas Batts, another job trainee, confirms Hantz's account.

"We've been to all of them," Batts says of the city's museums. He adds that Caldwell didn't seem to care if none of the job trainees wrote reports on the exhibits. "It's just to get us out of the building," he says.

Calls placed to Caldwell yesterday and today have not been returned. (Last week, Mayor Vince Gray named Caldwell to a 17-member advisory panel tasked with helping the mayor reform the embattled Certified Business Enterprise program.)

Hantz says he's voiced concerns about the program to the Department of Employment Services, which pays up to 90 percent of salaries for Caldwell's job trainees. Hantz says an investigator from the agency recently contacted him and indicated the agency is taking a hard look at Caldwell's program.

Najla Haywood, a spokeswoman for DOES, confirmed there was an investigation, which she said limited the agency's ability to comment further.

Batts says his "training" today consisted of being told to find a public library where he could write a summary of what he's learned from Caldwell's training program. He said one of Caldwell's employees made it clear that the reports are to have a positive spin. Batts says he's not be "browbeaten" and says he's received none of the training for green jobs he thought was going to receive when he signed up for the program. "I just want what I was promised," he says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Wrack

    Crooked, crooked, crooked.

  • Diane B.

    If LL dug deeper he'd see that Michael "elect me back" Brown helped Caldwell get that contract.

  • mizwillis

    Does Mayor Gray have a personal hand in who does and does not receive contracts? Does he have a personal hand in placing people on boards and panels?

    I know he is accountable for mishaps but I'm curious as to whether or not he has time to look at the vetting process; and if not, who does?

    Whatever the case may be, it seems to me he really needs to take another hard look at who is doing what in his administration and make the appropriate changes. This is one of the problems I see with a non proactive US Attorney. These kinds of things go lacking when someone is busy worrying about what could happen with the Feds.
    I understand waiting for that Midnight Knock is horrible.
    Even when you really haven't done anything to fear it. I know from experience on the Grand Jury that they can indict a ham sandwich. Some of those Asst US Attorneys are little more than criminals themselves in the way they cab circumvent one's legal right to due process.

  • Dc fraud

    Crazy that this is what a firm that's primary job is to prevent fraud on DC jobs is a fraud.

    Sounds like another crony doing a puppet job and screwing the DC taxpayer, the DC residents and the DC Contractors.

  • Drez

    This is federally funded, right? Why is DC squandering federal funds intended to help stimulate economic activity and prepare people for the jobs of the future on make-busy bs work?
    Honestly. Could we be any more of a parody of what the hinter-land republicans think we are?
    Damn. I get that the administration is happy that it's friends are getting contracts and people are getting paid. That's not what bothers me so much. But there has to be a bigger point to this than just short-term political gain. It's a huge failure of vision, and it's ripping off both the general public and the specific people it nominally is intended to help.

  • Sulaimon Caldwell

    Fun game: peruse Caldwell's two websites and see how fast your horseshit meter goes off:


    Who looks at this stuff and thinks we should shovel millions in contract dollars their way? Who reads LL's previous exposé on Caldwell and thinks hey that's the person to put on a task force to clean up the CBE messes?

    Not Vincent Gray, but Vince. There's a difference, and we keep seeing it over and over. From Sulaimon right on up to this.

  • DC

    Finally coming to light, huh? This will be good to watch. Hasn't this firm also done this sort of "job training" on a few DC development deals? Keep digging.....

  • michelle jones

    BLACK PEOPLE, google this and read it!

    Unethical human experimentation in the United States

  • Watchingthem

    L S Caldwell worked at LSDBE office at one time..Made the rules for everyone and now teaches developers and others how to cheat on those regulations. There are 4 of these companies and their only way to get these contracts is to do fund raising for council members and show these companies how connected they are. And these big developers, Lawyers and contractors are present with their checks. This is how money is made and influence is peddled..It is a circle my friends!

  • drez

    But, hey, at least it's not SYEP, right?

  • Really?

    I got stories to tell about SYEP! DOES really needs to be revamped.

  • Washingtonian

    It is well-known that the Department of Employment Services (under Lisa Maria Mallory, Hoskins and Gray) is dreadfully mismanaged. You have a higher management team here that appears from its actions to have little concern for vulnerable District residents. This agency needs experienced, ethical, and mature leadership. It is a mystery why USDOL has not taken over this agency. No one cares. NO ONE!

  • Thomas Batts

    Loretta Caldwell is another one of the Mayor's cronies, who are in for the tax dollar at little exxpense to themselves. LSC formerly had a partnership with DC Sustainable Energy Utility. Fortunately DC SEU had dropped LSC like an STD after all the bad press and investigations. I'm glad to see Loretta Caldwell what she deserves.