City Desk

Non-Candidate Don Peebles Goes Deliciously Negative on Fenty

This much is clear: If developer R. Donahue Peebles runs for mayor (and it doesn't seem to be a very big if), that vein in Adrian Fenty's forehead will be doing a lot of popping.

Last night, as a guest of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, Peebles delivered what was, for all intents and purposes, a mayoral stump speech. In his remarks before a friendly crowd, Peebles lambasted Fenty's record, attacking the incumbent on education, crime, and economic development. And, at times, he got rather personal.

Notably, Peebles delivered his strident remarks minutes after D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray occupied the podium inside the old council chambers at One Judiciary Square. While Gray decried divisions in the city and got quite animated about D.C. voting rights, he did not challenge the current leadership of the city as directly as Peebles did. (Keep in mind that Gray was there to deliver brief comments before installing the organization's new officers.)

It would be unfair to compare and contrast the would-be candidates, but one thing's clear to LL: Peebles has the taste for the political jugular that Gray does not.

Peebles read from a prepared text (available below). His particular spin on the rags-to-riches story—grandson of hotel doorman becomes hotel owner—won him applause and grunts of approval from the crowd. He got even more applause when he started his broadsides at the Fenty record—noting that murders went down last year, but only "for the first time...since Adrian Fenty walked into office" and playing down rises in school test scores as modest. Like Gray, he indulged in the old "tale of two cities" line, which launched him into the meat of his attack, skewering Fenty for "economic neglect" and closing social-service offices while unemployment is at an all-time high. In another ripped-from-the-headlines riff, Peebles decried the overcrowding at the city's youth detention center.

On the night of the State of the Union address, Pebbles also deployed a classic SotU tactic, quoting a resident named Renarda House to testify to the plight of the city. Her testimony: "Fenty is not in touch at all with this community." (House appeared not to be on the premises.)

That segued into another Peebles crowd-whipper—the recent CoStar tax-abatement deal: "I wonder how Adrian Fenty would feel, how he would explain to her and the hundreds of others, how he chose to close two service centers to save $1 million while at the same very time, he flew back from a junket from Las Vegas, Nevada, and sat in first-class next to the owner of a company called CoStar and cut a deal to give him $7 million to move his business from Bethesda, Maryland, to Washington, D.C.—a deal that would not create one new job, not spark any new economic development in our community."

After wrapping up his prepared comments, things got really interesting.

After one woman in the audience of several dozen rose to urge him to run, Peebles, citing his mother-in-law's terminal cancer, said he wasn't running "at this particular time." He added: "I do intend, whether I'm a candidate or someone else is, to help support change in the city."

With that, the Fenty slams notched into high gear. For one: "I don't dislike Adrian Fenty. I mean, you know, he's probably a good athlete. But I am angry at the job that he's done as mayor and the level of disrespect and the lack of compassion."

On his economic development record: "I, at 27 years old, with $20,000 in the bank have built more buildings in Ward 8 than Adrian Fenty with $9 billion in the bank."

Peebles went on to call him "vindictive" and retaliatory toward those who don't support his political campaigns. He pivoted to address a key ant-Peebles talking point: "People have been going around telling the media that I'm just trying to buy the mayor's race. But I want to answer that for those of the media that are here: I am. I'm gonna buy it back and give it to you." Big applause for that one.

And then things got personal, apropos of the Cora Masters Barry eviction saga. As predicted, the Fenty administration's attempt to oust the estranged wife of Marion Barry from her space at a city-funded tennis center became prime campaign fodder, prompting this vein-popper: "Does he think he's gonna be mayor forever? One day his wife will be the former first lady. Then I realized he probably doesn't have much respect for her." Yikes.

And that, of course, gave way to Fenty's related snub of civil rights icon Dorothy Height and poet Maya Angelou, who wanted a meeting with Hizzoner in order to stump for Cora. "Who the hell does he think he is?....If it weren't for Dorothy Height, he wouldn't be running the city; he'd probably be working at the cleaners."

In closing, Peebles alluded to the parks contracting mess and a well-worn reference to old Howard Beale: "The reality is, I hope you all understand, Adrian Fenty doesn't care....We have got to say enough is enough...stand up and say, 'I'm mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!'"

Peebles' prepared remarks:

Thank you, Robert, for the kind introduction.

Washington, DC is the greatest city in the world.

One of DC's greatest attributes is its community-focused and compassionate citizens.

The DC Federation of Civic Associations not only encapsulates the diversity of this city,

It unites associations from every corner of the District to support one another in a comprehensive and action-oriented manner.

I am grateful to you ALL for your civic devotion and commitment.

And am confident that through the tenacity and passion of your respective associations, our city will unite.

And, once again, offer a worthy and pleasant quality of life for all of its citizens and provide opportunities to those committed to success.

After all, our nation's capital has been luring people here for generations.

Take my family for example:

My great grandparents moved here in the late 1920s from the segregated south in hopes of providing their children with a better life.

My grandfather secured a job as a doorman at what is now Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

He held the position for 41 years.

Supported his family of 5 daughters, all of whom attended DCPS, and instilled in them the philosophy of limitless opportunity.

Today, his grandchildren are doctors, accountants, educators and real estate entrepreneurs.

I actually now own a Marriott Hotel downtown.

Washington, DC enabled my family to go from hotel doorman to hotel owner in 2 generations.

While I feel extremely privileged my family has thrived here for 4 generations, my story is certainly not unique.

I imagine many of you have taken advantage of opportunities presented to you in D.C. and in turn, celebrated some of life's greatest moments here.

I have fond memories of attending high school at the Library of Congress and interning as a page on Capitol Hill.

I met my wife here; my son was born here; established my business here; built my first building here in Anacostia.

As a matter of fact, it was the DC gov't which provided me with my first development opportunity.

Our city has evolved since my childhood and adolescence, from the hardships of the 1960s and the riots of 1968, to the momentous passing of the Home Rule Act in 1974.

I remember the overwhelming pride I felt as a young Washingtonian watching the swearing in of our first elected mayor and city council in 1975.

However, over the course of recent years, especially the last 3, our city has grown increasingly divided.

It is astonishing that in a city where the average personal income is more than $55,000, the highest in the country,

More than 19% of residents live in poverty, the 2nd highest behind Mississippi.

Amidst such inequality, the DC government exacerbates such challenges by being unable to provide even basic services to ALL residents EQUALLY.

The disparity of services provided in Ward 8, for example, versus those provided in Wards 2 and 3, is unacceptable.

Public safety, education and employment opportunities should NOT be determined by your zip code.

As many of you know, homicide in major urban cities decreased last year, as it did here in DC, for the first time since Fenty took office.

We should note the most significant decrease in recent years was actually during Mayor Williams' 2nd term.

From 2003 to 2006, homicides went down by 32%, or 79 deaths.

When Fenty took office in 2007, the downward trend ended and during his first 2 years of office, homicides went up.

Essentially, the city took two steps BACK and ONE step forward.

Despite the decrease in murders in 2009, robbery, theft, arson and property crime all went up here in the District.

The disparity in education can also be plotted on a map with the better schools being west of the Anacostia River.

Schools in affluent neighborhoods not only have higher test scores than schools in Wards 7 and 8, parents are able to supplement budget cuts and provide amenities such as teacher aides, field trips and other enriching elements.

Children in every ward, in every school should have the same exposure and the same amenities.

Reality is, less than half of DCPS students graduate from high school.

Yet 46% of people 25 and over who live in the District, have at least a bachelor's degree, higher than any other state.

Until this disparity significantly improves, it is inappropriate to celebrate such marginal changes as publicized in December.

The fact that 8th grade math scores went from last place to second to last, slightly ahead of Detroit, is nothing to boast.

Especially since Detroit was not part of the previous study.

Fortunately for Michelle Rhee, Detroit DID decide to participate otherwise Washington would have remained last!

And now 4th grade test scores are ranked 14 out of 18.

Both grades are lower than the scores for public school students in other major cities.

I fail to see the cause for celebration.

Just imagine, if we continue at this rate, our 8th graders will not reach the national average for at least another decade, and that is assuming the national average does not increase.

As someone keenly aware of the correlation between economic development and job creation in urban communities, DC's unemployment rate is inexcusable

The economic neglect of large portions of the city, especially east of the river, caused DC's jobless rate to hit 12.1% in December despite the addition of 600 jobs.

Think about that: our nation's capital is more than 2o% higher than the national unemployment average.

DC's unemployment rate is the highest level since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking rates in 1976.

The most unsettling part is in the eastern part of the city, the unemployment numbers are quickly approaching 30%.

As a native Washingtonian, a successful business person and a compassionate citizen, it is inconceivable for me to believe such staggering realities exist in the capital of the United States of America.

Our priorities should be centered on leveling the playing field and creating a positive environment where each and every citizen is provided an opportunity to succeed.

And during times of economic hardship, the government MUST extend a helping hand to those in the greatest need.

The amount of compassion, respect and integrity each of us exhibits should be present in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools and our government.

If we work together and remain resolute in our expectations for comprehensive equality,

o We can have safer streets for our children to play,

o We can have better schools for our children to learn,

o We can have a favorable environment for entrepreneurs to flourish,

o And we can have elected officials who act in the best interest of the people, not of themselves.

We cannot risk continuing down the wreckless path of the current administration.

We owe it to ourselves, our children and most importantly, to the children who are not blessed with a strong support system.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking to know there are children at District youth detention centers, housing more than 156 juveniles in quarters meant for no more than 88.

These kids are unable to access the guidance and mentorship needed for them to find their way to a promising future.

Today's Washington is not the city I grew up in and not what residents want.

Today's Washington is a tale of two cities; one of affluence and great opportunity and the other of economic despair and staggering unemployment.

I bet during the course of the week, you hear a story about a teacher losing their job, a neighbor's house going into foreclosure or a friend getting laid off.

On Tuesday, my heart sank as I opened the Metro section of The Post to see a photo of my building in Anacostia with hundreds of people, bundled in scarves and winter coats, in a line stretching around the corner awaiting entrance to the Income Maintenance Center.

It was infuriating to read the Class-A development I built 20 years ago, was now a dreaded venue where people like Renarda House, wait days on end in hope of receiving governmental assistance.

Ms. House "blames the city" and feels "Fenty is not in touch at all with this community."

We cannot and will not become a great city if we have social service centers turning away hundreds of residents every day who wait for as long as 8 hours for food stamps, medical assistance or emergency cash payments.

I wonder how Adrian Fenty would explain to her and the hundreds of others how he closed two service centers to save $1 million while negotiating a $7 million deal to lure a Bethesda-based company to the District.

A deal which will not create ONE new job nor spark ANY new economic development for our community.

With such insensitivity from the highest level, the increasing economic divide will certainly lead to further separation, hopelessness and anger.

We cannot condone such lack of compassion and poor management.

We must demand additional resources be deployed to the hardest hit areas.

We must fight for the best interest of those being ignored, unheard and abused.

It is in everyone's best interest to strive for economic parody.

We can do better and we must.

Thank you again for your dedication.

Please feel free to express any comments you may have or ask me any questions.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Bobby

    This is exactly what we need. Someone to slap down this administration. Besides, Don is only telling the truth... Run Don, Run...

  • Wendy Glenn

    I have revisited a ritual that I did when I was a very small, impressionable and dove-eyed youngster; I have begun to say my prayers once again, hoping against hope that whatever force sits high and looks low on this universe of men will hear my cry and plea and touch Mr. Peebles heart and have him or someone with his vision, business savvy, and his ability to make quick accurate intelligent judgments about people or situations. This city needs someone who can include and not divide its citizens. This city has become divided by class and race and primarily those in the upper class are very dismissive of those who are poor and disenfranchised.

    Please Mr. Peebles, for my family's sake and the rest of the citizens on unemployment who aren't connected or have friends in high places to put them in job that they are not qualified for; please give us a choice, someone that we believe in to vote for for Mayor of this great city.

  • Pingback: Who Is This Fenty Fellow? - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • Five to Go

    Wendy Glenn, AMEN.

  • tired

    please run, we can take it anymore.

  • Skipper

    People really think this is about Peebles running, rather than his ego needing some stroking?

  • homegrown

    @ skipper
    SHUT THE FUCK UP! Your shit is getting old and tired just like you!

  • sedcdude

    Mr. Peebles' opinion of Fenty is surprisingly raw and similar to a few entries I've previously read on CP. I am digging the REALNESS being applied to both Rhee and Fenty's triflin' asses and it inspires me to involve myself in the emptying and dumping of this trash....can't wait!

  • Truth hurts

    So Peebles is still using Vince "one city" Gray's subliminal racist pitch while arguing against divisiveness in DC. What a piece of work. Peebles, Gray and Barry, et al, could teem up and return DC to the good old days. Hope that WAPO writes an editorial tomorrow telling him to man up and run for mayor. He's become a real punk, let's see how smug he is once he receives return fire.

  • BlackJack


  • Truth hurts

    Fenty just might bitch slap Peebles for this sissy remark: "One day (Fenty's) wife is going to be the former first lady. But then I realized (Fenty) probably doesn't have much respect for her anyway".

    Fenty's made some boneheaded arrogant moves, but I truly doubt he'd stoop to personally insulting an opponent, his wife and their marriage in the same breath. Peebles is a jerk.

  • Taye

    Finally he is saying what so, so many people are feeling and saying who don't have access to the media, or an outlet other than to each other. This is in essence what many are expressing, and have been for the last few years....Thank you Don Peebles for telling it like it TIS...

  • Anonymous

    "...but I truly doubt he'd stoop to personally insulting an opponent, his wife and their marriage in the same breath."

    Yeah. He'd be outed as an even bigger hypocrite and sleaze than everyone already knows he is.

  • Keith

    Well well, Mr. Peebles has fired the first shots in the war. Im all for open competition, and I want the best mayor possible for the city but TALK IS CHEAP. If you arent going to step up to the plate step aside and stop running your mouth. Any of us can post comments on this message board, or make a "stump speech" at a political event, but if you arent willing to put your money/effort where your mouth is then whats the point?

  • BlackJack

    the point may seem nonquintessential, maybe even abbrasive, but nevertheless considering all the lies, the cronyism and the incompetence, at this stage what Peebles has stated is well worth it to stop, look and listen!
    The truth hurts and when you've been dealing in mud for so long when it's time to clean up you may not like what you see...Keith you sound afraid and defensive, better recognize and not mistake chess moves for checkers......

  • Typical DC BS

    Don Peebles? Please. Just another corrupt left-over from the Barry crony days. Does the term "carpetbagger" not come to mind? He's been hiding in Florida, scamming people down there. Now that they're tired of his game, he comes back here to run his mouth. What's he done for DC the past 10 years? NOTHING.

    He complains about disrespect, then turns around and disrespects Fenty? I guarantee he'll be WORSE than Fenty, because all he's interested in doing is lining his pockets, just like he's done the rest of his life to date.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! Most of the commenters here would do a far better job as mayor than that clown Peebles.

  • downtown rez

    Anyone else feel that Peebles is exploiting his own mother's illness by using it to play people for sympathy?

    How else to explain the his saying he's running, then saying he's not, then acting like he is? That he's not serious? That he doesn't know WTF he's doing?

    I don't buy it. I think he is serious, and he's willing to exploit his own mama. It also helps explain why he thinks Fenty doesn't respect the women in his life.

  • Skipper

    I wonder what Peebles is trying to get out of Gray that he keeps coming back into the spotlight so that he's "not in the race at this time."

  • Korrupt

    Please run Mr. Peebles!

  • Truth Hurts

    Drez: You voiced questions about Peebles' mother in law that I'd been keeping inside. I didn't want to go there out of deference to his wife's mom, who really might be terminally ill (and Peebles didn't know about it when he was strutting around 3 months ago). Not a likely scenario, yet possible. Now that he's stooped to publicly claiming Fenty doesn't care about his own wife, though, I say it's time for Peebles to produce medical records on his mama in law and tell us the day/month he found out she's sick. Or, he could fly back to Florida and shut up.

  • Truth hurts

    PEEBLES: 12/4/09. Says he'll likely declare mayoral run in about 2 weeks (definitely w/in 3 weeks) unless his homie Vince "one city" Gray throws down before then.

    PEEBLES: 1/5/10. Issues lengthy touching statement explaining how he can't run due to mama's recent death and mama in law's terminal cancer.

    PEEBLES: 1/28/10. Thrills the masses by publicly disrespecting Fenty and his wife.

    PEEBLES: 1/29/10. Reads blog posts calling him on punk ass behavior and jets off to Florida. THE END.

  • noodlez

    HEY Truth hurts-"PEEBLES: 1/29/10. Reads blog posts calling him on punk ass behavior and jets off to Florida"-HE IS JETTING OFF CAUSE THE SNOW IS COMING.




  • Truth Hurts

    You never know what a person's motive may be.

  • downtown rez

    What can I say?
    He's either using his elderly mother to play folks for sympathy, or he's got commitment issues and is undecided and not serious.
    Regardless, it's not like I care. Either way, he made his money dirty through connex, and he is only crawling back here from the warm weather on his Florida mansion's veranda because the speculative real estate market has tanked.

  • Truth Hurts

    Drez: Agreed. Just glad you said it.

  • Truth Hurts

    BTW, you gotta keep his peeps straight. Pretty sure momma's not elderly anymore. And it's momma in law that he's keeping the vigil for.

  • tired

    hey TH his mom in law is a private matter. Now mind you Fenty may have abuse his wife I don't know and really don"t care. Because think of Fenty's personality he is an egomanic and flipant with citizens. These were 2 icons that asked to speak with hizzoner and he could have cared less and that bastard snub them .So if Peebles said somethings about jackass he was right and that made me laugh. Because I am a dc resident and taxpayer and I have been crying since he has been in office.

  • Truth Hurts

    hey tired: Peebs' been issuing press releases about his mom in law so he doesn't seem to view it as a private matter. And I would've left it alone had Peebs not been a punk and said what he did about Fenty and his wife. You can laugh if you think he's funny, but neither he nor you should whine when others fire back. Just playing by Peebs' rules.

  • noodlez






  • Truth Hurts

    noodlez: I wiped it all up like you asked. And I know why you wanted yo Daddy to wipe off real good. Don't worry, I'MA SAVIN THE NAPKIN FO YOU GIRL.

  • hymesb

    Don Peebles is a fraud. You can't trust a public figure that would be so low as to make a comment like that. Fenty doesn't respect his wife. But you do, huh? Did you respect Mayor Barry when he was having crack binges in your house?

    BTW, when has anyone heard Fenty talk about an opponent or critic like that. And Fenty is the disrespectful one.

    When are we going to wake up. Peebles built more buildings in ward 8 with 20K than Fenty with 9 billion. Really, when? 25 years ago before you took the money from your Barry Crack house days to Florida and gave it to your pretty white wife. In the words of my grandfather, Negroe please!!! Why don't you stay in Florida and take care of your lovely fair skinned mother-in-law. Or give some of that money to some Haitians.

    Really, a race baiter who is married to a white woman. Funny!

  • Truth hurts

    Peebles got a white wife? Did she come to DC with Peebs when he trashed Fenty and his wife? I'm thinking not because he would've known she'd slap him.

  • Anita

    The book of Revelations mentions that the Anti-Christ will be a much-respected leader, charismatic and full of "solutions"...but he'll still be the freaking Anti-Christ.

    People, stop sniffing the butts of the most popular, name-brand candidates. It is called a "grassroots movement"--and you are the fertilizer. Grow something a mayoral candidate with some balls (ovaries or testicles), some integrity, and a whole lot of love for DC's underdogs.

    I have a prayer for DC: Lord, please grace DC with a Mayor with compassion for the downtrodden and without the ego of a supernarcissist. Let the new Mayor be wise enough to heed the sound advice of others and wary of those with narrow agendas. Let the new Mayor's executive actions be guided by the welfare of his most vulnerable constituents--not his/her wallet or that his/her friends and/or relatives. Let the new Mayor bring an era of peace and prosperity to this poor, beleaguered city.

    Sounds like I'm praying for a messiah, right? That's what DC voters do every 4 years at the polling booths...but they get the Anti-Christ.

  • 2careisfair

    It is difficult to fathom the filthy wording used in these
    blogs. We are all adults or are we. I agree that we need someone who will not polarize our city. We can have diversity, but my God this thing is getting down right
    racist. I am speaking of the way the mayor has turned his
    head to the hiring policies of some of his appointees.
    It is time he begins to hear the cry of the poor, working
    poor, and black middle class. We are being fired, pushed
    out, and ignored while others (whites) are being recruited
    from the west and mid-west. Is our mayor trying to establish a new constituency base?
    Mr. P raised some important issues but if he is not running then he needs to support who ever has the courage to oppose our present mayor.