Washington Outlook/Congress/White House

Anti-welfare chief shows commitment to self-help

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

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Jason Turner, the architect of welfare reform who rose to national political power by ending the welfare checks of thousands of mothers, apparently designed a method for city funds to find their way into the pockets of a relative and a friend.

Now in charge of New York City's vast Workfare program, Turner is believed to have asked a favored contractor to put Turner's friend and father-in-law on the company payroll.

In short order, Dad-in-law had a new job with the company. Turner's pal was employed by the private company too and was installed in his own 25th-floor office in the Big Apple's Human Resources Administration headquarters, just down the hall from Turner. Said pal--while on the contractor's payroll-- is accused of using his position to gather information about his company's competitors for the city's million-dollar contracts.

In a host of lawsuits, New York City claims Workfarers are not employees and therefore not covered by state and federal pay, safety and sexual harassment laws. Perhaps Turner and his biggest supporter, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, believe that this type of old-fashioned welfare-for-the-powerful is not covered by federal law either.

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