City Desk

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."

So typical.

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.'"

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  • friend of the friends

    First, let me say that I know Skinner. I was in those marathon study sessions...that he never came to.

    Sinclaire is full of shit. He will tell anyone that listens that they should pay him to help you get with Fenty. He wears Fenty Hats and uses Fenty pencils. But that is to get idiots that don't know the game to pay him. Remember the Lottery Bid...do you think people were going to hire him after Gray singled him out? No, people caught on to the lie.

    That is why he focused on his own engineering firm. 1) that is what he is. He is an engineer. He is not a dry cleaner. And 2) not he nor anyone else can get Adrian into procurement issues. Which is why all this BS will lead to nothing.

    Fenty isn't going to straight out diss him because he is a friend and a supporter. And, generally speaking, he doesn't react to rumors. But Skinner don't run shit. And he can't get you business. That is why he is back volunteering to knock on doors.

    Truth aside: let's talk about the fair Ms. Nikita's article.

    1) Ms. Nikita choose to quote Marion Barry, Don Peebles and three or four "secret" ex-employees. Who, of course, didn't want to be named because they are afraid. No bias there. And check your damn facts Nikita!

    Here is a fact: Fenty offered Skinner a job. What as? An entry level position in Dept of Real Estate. Skinner got pissed and turned it down. At that point, Skinner went to working deals. He took people's money for deals that never closed. And, Karim carried him.

    If Skinner works for anyone it is Omar. Who speards plenty money around in Maryland as well as DC.

    It was Omar that talked to Peebles. He claims that Karim asked him to hire Skinner for 10-20K I do believe that. That is what everyone asks for. Shit, I would take it if you dumb enough to give it.

    Anyway, Peebles had enough money to buy crack houses for Barry but this offends him.

    2) Marion Barry implys Fenty too "afro-centric" and says that his circle is too small. I will leave the obvious craziness of that alone. Other than to be amazed by the authors choice of sources and Barry's desire for Fenty to be "more crooked."

    3) Skinner, an engineer from Howard with certifications, opens a engineering firm. Sounds fishy! Did Fenty tell him to major in that 20 years ago.

    4) how many "someone told someone else that something happened" will you report in one article.

    Someone told me that someone told them that skinner used to deliver food to fenty in Law Schoool. I mean goodness gracious. That is some sound journalism.

  • uppity DC native

    thank you "friend of the friends".

    I too know Mr. Sinclair Skinner and let me tell you for a fact that he does NOT offer any quid pro quo for anyone. That's a ridiculous allegation and Ms Stewart and Mr Wemple know it.

    when you're on top, folks are always trying to knock you down a bit.

    Viva Fenty! 4 more years!

  • downtown rez

    I'm actually glad this story got written.
    It's an interesting article, to say the least, and it gives folks a chance to hear Peebles and Barry and consider their complaints.
    As others have pointed out, just keep in mind the source.
    Viva Fenty.

  • Truth Hurts

    Nikita Stewart has been ga-ga for "one city" since she came to DC and started covering the council chair campaign. She was pushing race issues during the Gray/Patterson race, praised Gray at every turn, REFUSED TO REPORT ON GRAY'S BALTIMORE FUNDRAISER THROWN BY HIS FRAT BROTHER AND DISBARRED FELON BRUCE BEREANO.

    Her reward? Gray's used her ever since to plant anti-Fenty stories. They talk almost daily. So now she's covering Fenty. Way to go WAPO. She'll be cheering on Gray at every turn. Maybe she's angling to be his spokeperson. Who knows. But anything she writes for WAPO in the interim belongs on the op-ed page rather than mislabeled as " news reporting"

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Truth- why does is matter what Stewart's agenda is? If it brings out inconsistencies in our government- more power to her and definitely more power to us. Politics in DC is as dirty as it gets. I haven't seen a single candidate that is skeleton-free yet. It's a fucking shame. As a result, we the residents, are forced to accept or make judgment about what is the lesser of two evils. I would be greatful if Steward published a piece airing all of the dirty laundry for every single politician in the City, but I'm certain it won't ever happen.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com Jason Cherkis

    Truth: You also have an agenda and it's obvious. You HATE Gray and any reporter that doesn't slam him at every turn isn't worthy.

    Stewart's agenda? Let's see...maybe her agenda was writing a news story off of the Trout investigation announced on Friday.

  • Truth Hurts

    I assume Adrian Bent me and Cherkis are responding to me rather than a different commenter who posts under the screen name of "Truth". As to AB-M's comment, I take issue with only one part of it. It matters what Stewart's agenda is because she's supposed to be fair (or not) to all politicians without consistently slanting "news stories" to boost the political fortune of her close friend Gray. If she's writing op-eds, fine, but she's not. And ironically, her piece relying mostly on anonymous sources came out the same day the WAPO ombudsman slammed WAPO for its overuse of anonymous sources.

    Cherkis: I have an agenda, true. But it's not the one you claim. I don't HATE Gray or any reporter who "doesn't slam him at every turn". For example, I recently voted for LL as best political commentator even though I often disagree with his assessments of Gray. And I regularly compliment your reporting. But I doubt there are many folks who know more than I do about Gray's history. I thoroughly researched his activities over many years and uncovered numerous unsavory facts that are at odds with the image he tries to project to the public. In short, he's a phony, his leadership of the council has been mediocre, and I don't trust him. As for Nikita, she's demonstrated her agenda for 5 years now, and it's not just writing "news stories".

  • Indeed

    TH, if you research almost every politician, you will find something unsavory. Especially when it comes to funding. Does Gray have some skeletons in his closet? Probably. Find me a major politician who doesn't. If you remember, Obama got some help from a convicted felon as well. I wouldn't have taken McCain over him because of it, though.

    Also, I don't know that those skeletons mean that there shouldn't be an investigation into a couple of guys who have risen fast and furious under Fenty.

    BTW, could you post some of these unsavory things about Gray?

  • Truth Hurts

    @ Indeed: I've posted many of them before. I haven't the time nor is this the forum to chronicle them all. Btw, I worked the polls for Obama and I was on his Presidential Inaugural Committee. Had Obama done what Gray did in terms of purposely soliciting funds from a felon convicted of fraudulently funneling money to politicians, I would'nt have worked or voted for Obama either.

  • hymesb

    @Indeed

    "Also, I don't know that those skeletons mean that there shouldn't be an investigation into a couple of guys who have risen fast and furious under Fenty."

    I do. The probe is supposed to address the transfer of funds between Deputy Mayor, Parks and Rec, and DHS. Not be "another" attempt to sully the reputations of private citizens for the purpose of politically grandstanding.

    The executive is a publically elected person. The Agency Directors voluntered to be public figures. It is ok for the council to target them.

    But to target private citizens and sully their reputation because Gray thinks that something might have happened....that is irresponsible, unneccesary, and complete misuse of his power.

    It is just as unethical and scummy to establish virtual black-lists and run people out of business...as it is to favor vendors.

  • proballdc

    @friendsofthefriends: According to official records of the District Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Sinclair Skinner does NOT have an engineering degree. Absent that, the fact that he was able to still get a certified PLLC for Liberty Engineering is a violation of District law. He may have majored in Engineering but according to official public records, he did not graduate from the program. Only an official on the executive level could have facilitated this breach in certification protocol. The more lies that roll out from Fenty & Friends, the deeper the hole that they dig for themselves.

  • Indeed

    TH, So you don't want to prove what you say? You just want me to take your word for it? Sorry, not going to do that. Where did you post these accusations? And where is your evidence? What does you being on the inauguration committee have to do with your knowledge of Obama's campaign fundraising? You really think that Gray knew but Obama didn't? Again, I will ask you to prove it. PROVE IT.

    hymesb, what you're saying makes almost no sense. So, if government funds are given to organizations that are only getting contracts because the proprietors are fenty's buddies that's not a problem?

    I don't have a dog in this fight. Politicians are politicians. We know that there is a money game. And we know there are plenty of people with money who do illegal things to get it. If Gray did something illegal, I'm all in favor of doing something about it.

    When someone who is a buddy of the mayor goes from owning a dry cleaner to being big in the DC real estate game, I want to know whether he did so through illegal means.

  • noodlez

    @Adrian Bent-Me I SEE YA BROKEBACK. STAYING TRUE TO YOUR HANDLE. YOUR COMMENT #5 MAKES A GREAT POINT. WE ALL KNOW IT WONT HAPPEN. SO WE HAVE TO GET THESE LOWLIFES ONE AT A TIME. EVEN THOUGH YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET TWO A TIME TIME.

    ********************************************************

    BUT SERIOUSLY EVERY TIME THE TOPIC OF FENTY AND HIS FLUNKIES GETS INK. THERE ARE SEVERAL COMMENTERS ON HERE TRYING DESPERATELY TO DIVERT ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE TOPIC THAT FENTY BROKE THE LAW BY ORDERING HIS MINIONS TO CIRCUMVENT CONTRACTS.

    I TRULY BELEIVE THEY ARE PLANTS FROM FENTY TO GET FOLKS OFF TOPIC AND DEFLECT THAT ATTENTION ELSEWHERE. ONE IS ALWAYS BRINGING UP MR.GRAY OR A JOURNALIST THAT THEY FEEL HAS NO INTEGRITY BECAUSE THE STORY IS ANTI-FENTY. YOU HAVE ANOTHER ONE WHO HAS FENTY'S DICK SO FAR UP HIS ASS THAT IM SURPRISED THEY WASNT THE FIRST COUPLE AT H. CARL MOUTRIE LAST WEEK.

    THEY TRIED CONSTANTLY TO HACK AWAY AT ALL THE FOLKS WHO BELEIVED MARION BARRY WAS TARGETED AND RAILROADED OVER HIS UNETHICAL TRANSGRESSIONS. BARRY'S SHIT PALE IN COMPARISON TO WHAT THIS JOKER FENTY WAS AND IS DOING. FENTY BROKE THE LAW. PERIOD. IF HE DIDNT THEN MAN UP AND SAY SO TO THE PEOPLE OF THIS CITY. BUT WE ALL KNOW HE WONT. HIS CONSTANY RUNNING AND DODGING WILL CATCH UP TO HIM.

    I JUST HOPE WASHINGTON CITY PAPER SHOWS THE SAME ZEAL AND FORTITUDE WHEN STAYING ON THIS TOPIC AS THEY DID MR BARRY'S. MR FENTY HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS THAT HE NEED TO ANSWER WITH HIS FAKE ASS SELF. I HOPE SOME JOURNALIST TAKE THIS STORY BY THE HORNS. SISTA GURL STEWART IS DOING HER BEST BUT I BELEIVE POST BRASS WONT LET HER GET BUT SO FAR BEFORE PULLIN RUG FROM UNDERNEATH HER!

    WHILE I HATE TO SEE MEN OF COLOR GET CARTED OFF TO JAIL. I WOULD NOT HESITATE TO TO SHOW MY HAPPINESS WHEN THIS CLOWN GETS STEPPED BACK.

    VIDAS DE FENTY EN CÁRCEL CON EL AMANTE DEL HOMBRE!

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    TH- Since when did reporting the news ever not have a slant or agenda to it? Have you ever seen the news (FOX, CNBC, CNN). Also have you ever written a research paper for English class. You take on a thesis and make your argument based on what your findings yield. That's how reporting works. I think it would be disingenuous if Stewart had written something with the facts in front of her and not taken an angle. Why don't you attempt to rewrite her work into a light that isn't biased. This stuff has nothing to do with journalistic integrity. She cited sources when she could and make it clear when the sources were anonymous- it's up to us to believe it or not.
    Utilizing your logic TH, anything that is slanted should not be considered news. So Al Gore's finding on Global Warming is baloney, Michael Moore's documentary is just bloated crap, and Bill O'Reilly is the fairest, most honest person on television.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Noodlez- you limp-dick basturd. As much fun as I have bashing your bigoted ass, I agree with you on this issue. A lot of support for Fenty seems to arise not with confronting the facts or findings but by diverting the issue into something else. It works both ways but who in their right mind would really believe that Fenty's on the up and up. Everything he's done in the past year is indicative of a man hiding something- "secret" trips to Dubai, crony contracts in excess of $100 million with absolutely no oversight, routing (Skinner and Jannarone) city equipment to a sexination in the Caribbean, backing and be backed by ex-cons (Motten), and the list continues. Barry isn't the mayor and does not represent me. Fenty is and does. I want my leader to be accountable for everything he does in office that my damn tax money pays for.

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  • Roach Exterminator

    Where were you people when Williams, Pratt, Barry were in office? Where were you when Gray was getting his house repaired and Barry was supplying every one on council with some, when Che was cheating and telling lies etc, when Graham and the whole lot were taking bribes? Now that the torch is passing to a younger generation and construction is actualy being completed now you cry foul. You are all HYPOCRITES probably because your lives ended up failures. Nothing else to do? Look there still time don't give up yet.

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