Holman responds to abrupt dismissal by Mayor Williams
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GLAA on human rights

Former OHR Director Holman responds to abrupt dismissal by Mayor Williams

July 16, 2002

GLAA
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

Dear Friends:

Several weeks ago Mayor Anthony Williams, through Chief of Staff Kelvin Robinson, suddenly and without warning ended my service to the District of Columbia as Director of the Office of Human Rights (OHR). Less than an hour earlier, Mayor Williams shook my hand at the end of a meeting and told me that I was doing a good job. Indeed, the only reason given to me for my departure by Chief of Staff Kelvin Robinson was that my departure was for unspecified political reasons on the Mayor's part. I was also told that the Mayor wanted to move in a different direction in human rights. Days later, I read in the Washington Post that the Mayor's staff was falsely claiming that I was fired because of discrimination complaints and my "inability to get along with staff." An unnamed administration official went on to falsely claim that "The office was up in arms. It was total chaos."

I'm writing to you because of your past support, of which I am grateful. I am also writing to set the record straight concerning the false claims of the Mayor's staff. I also want you to know that two independent consultants interviewed the entire OHR staff and both issued very favorable reports directly contradicting the false claims of the Mayor's Office. One of these consultants, Dr. Robert Pernick, reported:

1. "Results indicate most employees are quite satisfied with the director and team relationships." (page 1) "Consistent with the results of the TDS leadership scale described above, a majority of respondents interviewed report positive relations with the director. He is viewed as technically competent, highly committed to the mission, hard working [including putting in long hours], cordial, inclusive of others and their opinions, professional in appearance and demeanor, appropriately insistent on good performance and fair. ...The director hold staff to high standards and expects high levels of performance. However, he is neither seen as unreasonable, nor as pressuring staff to work unreasonable hours." (page 6)

2. OHR's performance is solid and the trend is positive, based on reduction in case backlog and increase in cash settlements. Workflow processes have been streamlined in the Investigative unit, and more technical training of staff occurred during the past few months. Office productivity is high, especially given the small number of employees and labor intensity required of investigative work." (page 6)

The false claims of the Mayor's staff concerning me and OHR, of course, come during a time when the Mayor's Office has repeatedly been criticized for "ethical lapses," for every thing from misuse of government employees to fund-raising irregularities to collecting fraudulent petition signatures. Some might suggest that the effort to slander me and OHR may be but two of the latest examples of a long series of these ethical lapses which ultimately erode confidence in District government to the detriment of us all.

Despite the false statements of the Mayor's staff, I want you to know that many important accomplishments were made at OHR during my tenure from February 2000 to June 2002. Indeed, just before my departure, OHR had become a far better place than it was in early 2000 when I arrived. Some of our accomplishments have included:

* Achieving the highest amounts in benefits for discrimination victims ever recorded by the federal government for OHR for three consecutive years (2000, 2001 and 2002).

* Achieving significant reductions in OHR's stubborn and persistent case backlog.

* Revolutionizing OHR's intake process for discrimination complaints by establishing a system for the issuance of discrimination complaints in one day versus the old system in which the process sometimes took six months or longer.

* Substantially improving OHR's investigation of complaints of discrimination by ending a system of "investigation by mail" and replacing it with witness interviews, on site investigations, document review and intensive supervision and training of investigators.

* Expanding OHR's mediation process by vastly increasing the number of volunteer mediators, holding more mediation sessions and implementing a system to monitor mediation sessions.

* Winning praise for conducting sensitive, high profile investigations involving discrimination against Latinos at the La Casa Homeless Shelter.

* Establishing OHR's first Fair Housing Bureau and producing a highly successful Fair Housing Symposium during National Fair Housing Month 2002.

* Providing the first District-wide training for District government EEO officers and counselors in many years.

* Increasing the size of OHR's staff from ten staffers in February 2000 to 35 approved full time equivalent positions for FY 2003.

These are just a few of the many successes OHR achieved over the last two years. A more complete listing of accomplishments is enclosed with this letter.

As my service at OHR has now ended, I want to extend to you my sincere heartfelt thanks for the tremendous and constant support GLAA provided to me. Through many a dark day it gave me considerable comfort to know that I could always count on GLAA. Indeed, none of the successes we achieved at OHR would have been possible without GLAA. Thank you so much for your support, encouragement, advocacy and friendship which made OHR better, if only for a time.

Sincerely,

Charles F. Holman, III

Enclosures:

1. Report of Dr. Robert Pernick of the Amherst Group

2. OHR Accomplishments 2/28/2000 to 6/7/2002


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