GLAA defends reprogramming of funds
for Office of Human Rights;
Graham drops objection
[Note: On April 12, 2001, the day after this letter was emailed to DC Council Chairman Linda Cropp and her colleagues, we learned from Council staffers that Councilmember Jim Graham had dropped his objection to the funds reprogramming at issue. The subcommittee recommendations were revised accordingly, and were adopted at a meeting of the Council's Committee of the Whole on April 12. Thanks to Councilmember Graham.]
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
The Honorable Linda Cropp
Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Dear Councilmember Cropp:
We understand that the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 12. Among other things on the agenda, the Committee of the Whole may be considering certain budgetary matters acted on this past Tuesday, April 10, by the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Latino Affairs and Property Management.
One action taken by the Subcommittee on Tuesday concerns us greatly, and we hope the Committee of the Whole will reject it. That is the Subcommittee’s recommendation for the Council to disapprove the FY 2001 Reprogramming of $155,000 from "Funds Pending Certification" (for the Office of Latino Affairs) to the Office of Human Rights (OHR).
In urging his Subcommittee to adopt this motion on Tuesday, Chairperson Jim Graham stated that he appreciates the need to reduce the backlog of discrimination complaints at OHR but that he could not support such efforts if they were conducted at the expense of the Office of Latino Affairs.
The Office of Latino Affairs has a budget considerably larger than that of OHR (by roughly a million dollars) and, to our understanding, faces no deep-rooted and long-lasting crisis in its operations and its ability to serve its clientele. In contrast, OHR has seen its budget and staffing reduced repeatedly and drastically over the last decade, resulting in an enormous backlog of complaints -- an utterly shameful and unacceptable situation in a city where we pride ourselves on our diversity. Under the leadership of Director Charles Holman III and with an augmented FY 2001 budget, OHR has made substantial progress in the past year towards reducing that backlog and in laying out plans for eliminating altogether in the not-so-distant future. Disapproving the $155,000 reprogramming would slow, if not halt, such progress, because OHR would be unable to hire the additional investigators it needs to restore public confidence in its strength.
As it turns out, the Subcommittee is apparently mistaken in its conviction that this reprogramming will adversely impact the Office of Latino Affairs. To quote from an April 10 letter to Councilmember Graham from Deputy CFO Wayne B. Upshaw (a letter which Mr. Graham admitted he had not had time to absorb before making his motion to reject the reprogramming request):
"With respect to the $155,000 reprogramming, the City Administrator determined that the Office of Human Rights needed $155,000 to hire investigators to reduce the growing backlog of cases pending before the commission. The Office of Human Rights needed to hire investigators as soon as possible, while the Office of Latino Affairs did not need the $1,500,000 immediately....I reiterate that this reprogramming will in no way reduce the amount of funds approved for the Office of Latino Affairs for FY 2001."
We commend the entire text of Mr. Upshaw’s letter to your attention. It may be found on our web site, www.glaa.org.
Thank you for your attention and consideration.
cc: All Councilmembers
Charles Holman III, Director, Office of Human Rights
Philip Pannell, Office of the Public Advocate