Weekend in Review—Crony Edition
As if D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray needed another prod to jump into the mayor's race, the Washington Post came through for him on Sunday morning. Splashed across the top of page A01 is an investigative story about Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's relationship with key cronies Sinclair Skinner and Omar Karim.
The article points out how the two entrepreneurs have prospered under the Fenty administration. In general terms, we knew that already. What we didn't know was how. Take, for example, this excerpt from the piece, on how Fenty frat buddy Skinner has been approaching developers about doing biz with the city:
Since his return to Washington, [developer R. Donahue] Peebles said, at least two of Skinner's associates suggested that he hire Skinner, who they said could help him win District projects and gain access to the mayor and his top aides. Peebles said the associates told him that Skinner's fee was $10,000 to $20,000 a month.
Peebles said Karim approached him after an appearance on the Howard campus in 2007 and told him that Fenty was seeking to empower a new group of minority builders, including Karim. As African Americans, Karim and Skinner could benefit from city requirements that developers partner with minority-owned companies.
Karim, Peebles said, told him that "if I wanted to get to do a development deal with the District of Columbia government under Fenty, I'd have to do business with them and their circle, this new inner circle. He gave me this whole spiel about how it was a new day and how the old guys' day was up. Essentially, the message was I was going to need him."
Peebles said he was angered by what he considered a "flagrant pay-to-play overture." He rejected Karim's offer, he said, and refused to hire Skinner.
That's some choice reporting there, though you have to wonder: How reliable is Peebles as a source for a story that bashes Fenty—-a guy whose job Peebles covets. At least he's on the record, which is not the case for every developer who dishes on Skinner and Karim. Even so, a lot of great revelations in the piece.
How did Fenty respond to the allegations? By running away, of course. The Post had to try to ambush the guy after an event. Here ya go: "Fenty declined to talk in detail about his relationships with Skinner and Karim. In a brief interview as he left a news conference last month, he said his administration has awarded contracts properly."
Post ombo Andy Alexander had his chance to lower the boom on the internal hullabaloo over Rahm Emanuel. You know, the one in which Dana Milbank and Jason Horowitz did some amazing rehab work for the White House chief of staff, only to sustain a roundhouse blow from Post columnist David Broder for shoddy reporting and failure to break news.
But Alexander came up a bit lame on this one: "I think Broder is partially right."
What it boils down to, wrote Alexander, is an overreliance on anonymous sourcing: "Broder said he was troubled by the number of anonymous sources in Horowitz's story. 'I think it's a general problem at this paper,' he said, adding 'it's a particular problem when it involves a matter of policy or personnel and readers are left in the dark about who's talking.'"