City Desk

Councilmembers to Nickles: WTF?

Three members of the D.C. Council were not amused to learn this weekend that the city had settled with Banneker Ventures, the construction firm owned by Mayor Adrian Fenty’s fraternity brother that is at the heart of a current investigation into alleged shady contracting practices.

The Post’s Nikita Stewart won the weekend with the big scoop that the District had agreed to pay Banneker, which is owned by Fenty buddy Omar Karim, $550,000 out of an original $2.3 million contract to renovate and build new parks and rec centers. The council canceled the contracts last year, amid an uproar that Fenty had bypassed them to give business to his fraternity brothers.

An outside investigator hired by the council to look into the contracts is set to release his findings shortly.

Attorney General Peter Nickles told the Post the city agreed to the settlement because Banneker “had threatened to sue” the architects and engineer subcontractors over “intellectual property” issues having to do with blueprints and designs.

Naturally, the fact that the outside investigation was imminent had nothing to do with the timing. Nickles tells Loose Lips the settlement was the result of months of work by a "team of experts" to try and get the city out of a legal mess the council had created when it killed the contracts.

But Councilmembers Phil Mendelson, Mary Cheh, and Harry Thomas Jr. said the settlement  doesn’t pass the smell test and told Nickles in a letter Tuesday that his actions may be “motivated by something other than the best interests of the District of Columbia.”

“The decision to pay this vendor prior to the conclusion of an investigation, prior to all the facts being known, for contracts that were not properly approved, and for work that may have been overcharged, is contrary to your duty to place the interests of the District of Columbia paramount to all else,” the councilmembers wrote.

Cheh told LL the timing of the settlement was “quite peculiar,” given that she’d introduced legislation last Tuesday that would have prevented any payments while the matter was still under investigation.

Nickles had no time for such suggestions, calling them politically motivated "baloney" or "spanakopita." (It's a Greek spinach pie; don't ask.) And if it makes any difference to the councilmembers, Nickles says he didn't tell Fenty about the settlement either.

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  • HUH

    Now if the investigation turns up something, what will Nickels say?

  • Stephon

    Yes, most people in America are "sheep" and most people in America vote against their own interest, but my 8 year old daughter realizes Adrian Fenty told Peter Nickels to pay them. Who in the hell is Banneker going to sue? They dont have the capacity to sue anyone!! This is bad for business! Outside entities are laughing at the DC Council....

  • noodlez

    THAT'S STEALING!

    SOMEONE SHOULD BE BOUGHT UP ON GRAND LARCENY CHARGES.

  • Northwesterner

    Noodlez, you're stealing.

  • candycane1

    Go the the Examiner for the latest in the Skinner scandal.

  • DCDem

    Why is it that whenever there is a payment to these Fenty friends and frat brothers, it is always during a Council recess (Christmas/July 4th) and it ALWAYS involves Fenty's god-father AG Peter Nickles.

    Nickles has served as the conduit to drain the D.C. Treasury on behalf of Fenty cronies.

    This needs to become an election issue. The Gray campaign needs to seize upon this half of million dollar payment made like a thief in the night.

    Textbook Fenty...Steal from the people now and they'll forget about it by September 14.

  • Ward 5

    There are a million entities suing the district and THIS is the one we settle with? really??? bs!

  • Cant

    Thank you ward 5! there are still employees who filed lawsuits 3 years ago, waiting for resolution where the Judge has exonerated them and ordered the city to rehire them and the city is still refusing three years later. meanwhile, we are paying their salary AND a penalty for not allowing them to return to work and he settles THIS case in the middle of an investigation because they "MAY" sue someone else? GTFOOH!!!

  • WARD4NDC

    This is the article CandyCane1 reference to.

    King Fenty's friend who failed engineering exam 7 times.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/D_C_-licensed-Fenty-friend-who-failed-engineering-exam-7-times-97895459.html

  • WARD4NDC

    CandyCane1, a friend in Shepherd Park saw King Fenty in his neighborhood. He gave the King an ear full and basically told King Fenty to go to hell. LOL

    Hello NOODLEZ, where have you been? You and Rick are two of my favorite posters on the City Paper.

  • Stephon

    DCDem,
    You are right on!! This is why Nickels laughs as he drives home to Virginia every night. They pay out $2million on Christmas Eve and another $500,000 on July 4th! Congrats Adrian, you are showing all future Mayors how to pick pocket the city. This is bad for business.....
    Steph

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    "INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY" ???

    I thought the reason we cried 'foul' was that Banneker did not in fact have any of the wherewithal to develop these facilities and that it was in fact over-inflating the price and underpaying subcontractors for the privilege of doing all the work.

    Well, I guess we can just look forward to trick-or-treating at Nickels' house this October. If he doesn't cut us fat checks on his doorstep, we can assume he wanted us to return the tricks he has played on us...

  • MM

    Again I say, the Council is a pack of toothless wolves! How blantantly did Nickels outright disrespect them as the Mayor's counsel, then he took it up a notch as Acting AG yet these fools still confirmed his appointment. Nothing he has done, and continues doing, is surprising! He has shown us all who he is from the jump!

  • WARD4NDC

    Oh what a web we weave! It's time for King Fenty and his Kappa buddies to disappear from the kingdom of the District of Columbia.

  • hymesb

    Huh;

    This is the investigation. The leak to Nikita was from the investigation.

    If they had found anything...the report would have been completed a while ago. There is nothing to find because nothing illegal happened.

    Unethical...maybe. Influence manipulation...probably. But, no laws were broken. And, if a law can be worked around...then what can you really say. As with tax law, Tax avoidance is legal. Tax evasion is illegal.

    Even with the guy that failed the exam. There is nothing wrong with that. Othrwise, there wouldn't have been a route available for people that have significant work history but no formal education to become licenced. In this instance, the man has a masters degree and work experience. And, apparently, the work was completed within specs. So, again, noting illegal.

    As far as the settlement, The city didn't have the right to cancel those contracts. Banneker would have won that suit. They had a valid contract and thy performed. It was not fair leave them holding the bag because the city council took issue with the procurement process. The contractor complied with the process utilized by the city. Unless you can show that the did...they are entitled to restitution for money spent in performance of the contract.

    But, admittedly,it was clear that Nickles wanted to put the issue to rest. Similarly, Councicl man Gray doesn't want thhe issue to go away. So, now we have an investigation that is pushing on 9 months with no end in site, Well... my bet it that it will be released about Sept 1st.

  • tformation

    Wow, more of the same with this guy. No matter how hard you (FOF) try to shove Fenty down our throats by scaring us that Rhee will abandon the kids if we dont rhee-elect him, he goes and makes all your work useless. Dont you feel like every time you move forward one step, he takes you back ten. Lol (talk about reminding me of Barry LMBO!!)

    Articles about Rhees threats on the front page, articles about giving his buddy who is under investigation half a mil and a FOF stacked board giving his other buddy a license after failing the test SEVEN TIMES buried in the back. And we all know the most damaging stories wont see the light of day if WAPO has anything to do with it.

    And hymesb---- you may be right, he MAY have found a way to skirt the law (although I doubt it) but he certainly wasnt acting in the best interest of the citizens of the District of Columbia (why he was elected), which is enough to lose my vote!

  • David

    Dear Hymesb (Sinclair/Omar) The investigation has lingered because people have not cooperated. They are afraid of retaliation from this administration( as evidenced by the carnaged that Fenty steps over every day.We will wait to see what laws were broken. This whole thing stinks and appears to be illegal. Further, if there were no laws broken then why the rush to settle while there is an investigation going on? Let the process play out to clear your name. If you are clean then I would think you would want your name cleared. When it is all said and done what else does a man have but his name? How do you want to be remembered ( as a crook or as a honorable person who was accused of something but had his name cleared) That fack that these payments have to be made in the middle of the night and while a governing arm of the government is away and while there is a criminal investigation-SPEAKS VOLUMNS. You can try to explain it away but anyone with an IQ over 10 will know you are just blowing smoke and trying to cloud the real issue and that is contracts over $1 million were issued without Council approval, payments were made after the Council cancelled the contracts, very high fees were paid that are not industry standard, libraries build and renovated and then hours cut and staff laid off ( this is called funnelling money) certifications given to firms who clearly should not have gotten certified. People sue the District every day why the rush to settled this POTENTIAL one? Let the lawsuit come, let the dispositions happen so that the truth can come out. Otherwise it appears that there are some people who are affraid of the truth.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Hymesb- you're a fucking idiot for trying to defend this. As cut and dry as it is, and as wrong as the Nickles/Fenty regime is, you would still try to defend these crooks. Either you're in on it yourself in some capacity or you have the mental capacity of sinclair skinner (watch his public hearings and you'll see what I mean). Either way, you're in trouble. Also if it had been Gray, would have be spewing the same shit?

  • LaCaiRaine

    Nickles had no time for such suggestions, calling them politically motivated "baloney" or "spanakopita." (It's a Greek spinach pie; don't ask.) And if it makes any difference to the councilmembers, Nickles says he didn't tell Fenty about the settlement either.
    __________________________________________________________
    Ok, so now we have a "rogue" Attorney General who does not act in the best interest of the residents of the District and now, by his own words, does not even tell the Mayor that he is obligating the District of Columbia for half a million dollars. What government official has the right to obligate the government to pay anything without prior approval. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So now EVERYONE should know Mr. Nickles and Ms. Rhee do whatever they want and they don't even inform Mayor Fenty until after the fact, if they want and if they don't then they won't...what are we operating her...rogue employees of a rogue government.

  • Truth Hurts

    hymesb: Good to see someone else understands the tag team game Nikita and one city Gray have been playing for 5 years. I'm betting Gray's going to be facing a lot of his own frat bro questions before long. Bereano anyone?

  • Truth Hurts

    Hey Alan: Why do you think Nikita gets ALL the Gray scoops? Do you know?

  • larry

    I'm just glad anybody is getting scoops about four years of jokes and schemes being played on us by fenty and his cronies. Let's see, after years of outright refusing to answer questions from residents and the media - NOW Fenty doesn't know what's going on in his own administration? Maybe that has been a big part of the problem all along. Would the city paper please now follow up on Peter Nickles investigation into dc's DYRS??? He said he completed the investigation and just needed to tell the mayor....where the hell are they? Families and friends of victims are waiting. At least they could let us know if it is business as usual so we can get started on a FOIA request. Oh, but these are the two guys who don't respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. This should be the real Fenty campaign slogan.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    TH- so you're upset that someone's got the inside track on the Fenty administration's misdealings. Wow, you should lengthen your name to - "Truth Hurts, that's why I choose to ignore it".

    You and Hymesb are a perfect couple- dumb and dumber.

  • Truth Hurts

    Come on ABM. Let's you and me not start taking personal shots at one another. I'd rather save that stuff for fakers and racists. I don't think you're either of those. And pretty sure you don't think I'm dumb.

  • Manor

    hymesb is the only reasoned legally sound opinion here. The rest of you are on a witch hunt out of some deep anger and hatred of Fenty, not really based in facts but emotion.

    You don't just unilaterally cancel contracts after work has begun. I'd love to just cancel on my plumber right now but its just not legal. The council wanted headlines by appearing to fight corruption, they got them and we get to pay.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    TH- you're right. I don't think you dumb, but I do question your sanity for so blindly supporting everything that Fenty and his camp does, especially the very iffy and potentially illegal ones.

    Hymesb- yes, you can fire your plumber mid-work. It's not only legal, it's your right. He might want to sue you and place a contractor's lien, but it is tremendously difficult for him to collect if the work he did was inappropriate or the quote he gave was inflated to begin with. You have more rights that the plumber. Ask any professional tradesworker.

    We're all just so fed up of the constant and unending wave of controversies that is associated with Fenty. He's out of touch and frankly, none of it seems to matter to him. I've had enough of it, time for a change.

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