CM Silverman on Verge of Calling for Resignation of DC Consumer Regulation Chief Bolling
By Larry Janezich
Last Tuesday, Councilmember at Large Elissa Silverman met with ANC 6B in an outreach effort to “share what I’m working on”. Dysfunctionality at the DC Department of Consumer Regulation (DCRA) was near the top of the list of her concerns. Silverman related that just that day, in a public hearing, she heard the “most disheartening accusation against DCRA” and said that the agency’s response was “horrible”. The case involved a contractor who had caused structural damage to an adjoining property and DCRA had failed to respond to the aggrieved party’s complaint.
Following up on the opening and citing her own constituents’ ongoing problems with the troubled agency, Hill East ANC 6B Commissioner Denise Krepp asked Silverman, “When are you going to ask for Director Bolling’s resignation … she needs to go”.
Silverman responded, “I’m really close”. She said the wife of the couple who testified in the hearing earlier on Tuesday was in tears about what happened to their home, adding “There was no outreach or apology or offer to address the problem from Director Bolling.” Silverman compared the callousness to that of the DC Fire Department Emergency Services who mishandled the case of NYT reporter David Rosenbaum in 2006. Rosenbaum was the victim of a mugging, who the DCFD dismissed as being drunk. The reporter died after medical treatment was delayed. Silverman said, “DCRA is at the same point”.
Pressed by Krepp about when Silverman would act, the Councilmember replied, “Probably in the next few weeks”.
Silverman’s criticism was in line with Councilmember Charles Allen and widespread public opinion. Earlier this year, Allen told a Capitol Hill community meeting that DCRA is the “one agency which has caused us the biggest problems and has the most improvements to make”, and “that the agency needs a top to bottom shakeup.” (See CHC post here: http://bit.ly/2uglX4e)
The question now, is whether Silverman and Allen follow through and whether Mayor Bowser listens to the Councilmembers and the community. Bowser is currently on a tour of the city’s ANCs (most recently at ANC6D, report forthcoming). Since DCRA issues seem prevalent throughout the city, the ANC’s should carry the issue of accountability directly to where the buck stops. Given, however, Bowser’s shameful toleration of questionable ethics in contracting in the Department of General Services (See here: http://bit.ly/2uUdcyv), the toleration of preferential treatment at the Department of Education and the indifference to community concerns shown by the Department of Transportation, it’s not clear exactly where that is.
Given those circumstances, what’s more likely to happen is that Bolling will profess enough departmental mea culpas and pledges to do better, allowing a general pardon for past grievances and the dysfunction to continue.