Loose Lips

Council Goes After Banneker, Banneker Sues City

The D.C. Council approved a resolution Thursday saying the city will not pay out a $550,000 settlement with one of Mayor Adrian Fenty's fraternity brothers. The mayor had previously used a "pocket veto" to stop the measure.

Councilmembers are trying to block payment to Banneker Ventures, which is owned by Fenty pal Omar Karim, because they allege the parks and recreation construction contracts were improperly or illegally awarded, and city taxpayers were taken advantage of by Karim and Sinclair Skinner, another Fenty fraternity brother.

"This whole thing from beginning to end is corrupt," said Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh.

The council also passed legislation Thursday that would allow their special investigator, Robert Trout, to seek a court order compelling Karim to disclose more details about his law firm, Liberty Law Group, and its payments Skinner.

About a month ago, Attorney General Peter Nickles settled with Banneker, infuriating some members because Trout's investigation is on-going. Nickles said the settlement was good and proper, and kept the city out of future legal entanglements.

Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. called for hearing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Banneker filed suit in Superior Court. The complaint was not immediately available, according to a court clerk, but Nickles said Banneker is suing over the council's refusal to honor the settlement. Karim's lawyer, A. Scott Bolden, couldn't immediately be reached.

This puts Nickles in a little bit of pickle, because he's supposed to defend the city against lawsuits like the one Banneker just filed. He indicated to LL that the council will have to find another lawyer, because he's thinks Banneker has a good case and he's not about to argue against a settlement he spent months working on and thinks is best for the city.

"I can't say what I agreed to makes no sense," he said.

Nickles added the council's resolution is out of bounds because settlements fall squarely under the purview of the executive branch. Nickles said he advised he mayor to pocket veto the previous legislation and said he'll give the exact same advise to the Fenty after Thursday's council vote.

The council indicated they would just pass the legislation again if Fenty vetoed it a second time.

The real loser here is Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who is on vacation in Nantucket with his kids. Evans told LL he hasn't missed a vote in 15 years, and he's "annoyed" the council couldn't wait for him to get back next week so he could vote. (Evans  said he would have voted along with the rest of the council; he's just upset about the process.)  He said voters don't "give a shit" about why you miss a vote, they just remember that you do.

Thomas apologized to Evans from the dias but said this was an emergency.

  • maserfentyaintnogood

    Councilmember Evans has been drinking the fenty kool aid too long, so there was no need for the council to wait for him to come back from vacation. He found time to do tv advertisements for fenty. He could of found time to fly back.

  • Tformation


    Nickles said he will defend the city against this lawsuit? He actually said that? Then the citizen of DC should be able to sue him for failing to do the job he was hired to do. He needs to return his salary AND pay any cost the citizens end up having to pay Omar because of his tainting this lawsuit from the beginning. And Fenty et al still thinks all of this is ok because "things are getting done!"!!!
    You are losing votes by the minute with this one.

    The gift that keeps on giving!

  • LOL

    Report Nickles to the bar already.

  • Ward 5

    Nickels d@mn near refuses to settle with any other entity yet he breaks his neck to settle with this one... ridiculous!!!

  • David

    Ward 5

    You are right. Nickles refuses to settle suits against the City. The real question is why is he in such a hurry to settle this one??????Especially when there is a criminal investigation going on.

    Maybe when Fenty loses. Someone will file a complaint with the Bar Association against Nickles. A group of citizens can do it.

  • Really?

    Ward 5...AGREE!

    I think this is great timing and shows how the Banneker process stinks.

  • Marypleaseshutup!

    Mary Cheh needs to shut up.

    First, if you want to talk about the "from beginning to end" Start with the beginning.

    The beginning was Fenty trying to have the work done by Allen Lew. The End was the project being managed by Allen Lew. It was the middle that was bullshit. And, if you hadn't been such a hating ass obstructionist, that program management contract would never had been bid.

    So, Miss smart ass, Gray is in the middle of this. He was the one that insisted the work go out to bid. Fenty didn't want to go out at all.

    So, Miss Smart ass, is Gray corrupt? .

    Cheh, you are full of shit. And, no, a white woman will not get elected Mayor in DC anytime soon. You can stop your posistioning. It didn't work for your friend in Atlanta and it will not work here.

  • http://CityDesk TONY

    Does Nickles run the city?

  • Marie Jackson

    August 13th, 2010
    11:01 am

    I guess it safe to say you will not vote for Chen or Gray.

  • Ward 5

    Tony - pretty much lol

  • atty2d

    If she's so upset about it, why doesn't Chey come out for Gray?

  • Confused

    It's truly amazing that City Council can obstruct the legal process for a percieved inappropriate relationship. They hired an outside smart ass attorney. They had numerous public depostions and have nothing!

    City Council didn't ask Ben Jacobs to be publically deposed when JBG threaten to sue the City. Oooohh, it's ok for a 500-1 billion dollar company to flex and make concessions for them (10mm)

    However, the small guys because get kicked around by City Council because it's the only fight they can win. Chey needs to continue to protect the squirls because with all her legal knowledge; she is afraid to fight the big boys.

    Mary Cheh should look at the lottery. Is it not corrupt that the same company has had the contract for 25 years and they have funded numerous City Council Campaings. Where's the investigation. City Council obstructed a procurment process because of percieved relationship. Kicked out the company because of "a mayor's friend" and left Gray's "friend" at the helm.

    Give me a break. It's all political These guys are upset because no one is giving them a hug. The current Mayor has side step politics but has been progressive. That's his fault. Maybe he should of been shelfish, self rightous and political like the rest of council.

  • Query

    By all means, if the citizens of the city want to pay enormous fees on contracts for public projects, continue to launder the projects through OPEFM, where in addition to crazy high markups, FOF continue to benefit in less visible ways by getting the subcontracts.

  • Confused

    What's amazing is all Mayor's have friends that have benefited. Think about how many Illinois tags are in the Nations Capitol. Do you not think that the President has his people running the country and are leading in government contracting. In addtion, Mr. President has give more 100k plus jobs than any other. It's the nature of the beast. Yet, based on what I've read locally, the FOF's guys are small. The large contracts went to the big companies and they had perceveid leadership percentage with a small equity postion.

  • Adrian Bent-Me.

    Confused- you're staying true to your name huh? What bothers me is none of you fools can justify the actions of the Mayor or his frat-buddies, so you instead try to compare it to someone else and claim that relative to others, this isn't that bad. No one's buying the bullshit anymore and in a little over a month, Fenty will be out and hopefully some of these fools in jails.

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  • David

    The question is why did Nickles pay so quickly? Someone or a group of DC residents should file a complaint with the Bar Association against Nickles.

  • gentleman


    Adrian Feny is a partner in Liberty Engineering, Leiberty Law, Bannerker Ventures et all.If Febtt us defeated in the primary, chances are high he will be, he will be a rich man Thanks to his Frat Brotehers. The guy is in ther for the money. Reform this, Reform that is all a bunch of hogwash. Adrian Fenty is a thief who got caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

  • S.E.

    "Maybe he should of been shelfish, self rightous and political like the rest of council."

    He is!!

  • downtown rez

    What confuses me is that Banneker had a contract, performed work, and now is being jammed up by the council regarding pay.
    It really doesn't matter what the council thinks should have been, it matters what was.
    This chapter of the story- Banneker suing to get money owed under a legal contract- is all the fault of the council.
    There really is no way around that.

  • Adrian Bent-Me.

    Drez- comment #17 is by far the dumbest thing you have ever written.

    The process matters. The is a reason for the process. It is meant to prevent this from happening. It does matter how he got the contract. It does matter who performed the work (his ass did not by the way- he hired someone else to do it), and it definitely matters how he was supposed to be paid (it's our fucking money being funneled to this douche).

    I really am shock that anyone can defend the actions here of this guy and of Fenty, but at that same time bash Gray for getting fence-work done because they was an "appearance" of something other than being above board.

    I no longer see you as a rational person. As others have said- you have your head too far up Fenty's ass.

  • downtown rez

    This really is old news. Running contracts through DCHD happened in the Williams administration and was upheld. The contracts were legal and valid now as they were then. The council's own probe will conclude this (after the primary, naturally) and that Banneker is owned pay for services performed.
    Do your research, and show me where anything I've written is not factual.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Drez- what the hell are you even attempting to prove? That it's ok for Fenty to reroute dedicated funding through agencies that he has almost direct oversight of so that he can avoid being scrutinized by a third party. DHCD has it's dedicated federal and local funds and the purpose is to work with the private and non-profit sectors to provide affordable housing. That is the way it's supposed to be. I guarantee you that the Committee on Housing and Workforce Devolpment has and had some insight/oversight into where these dollars go/went.

    This is not the case at all with these park contracts to Karim. Also, why would a housing developer- which he claims he is, be eligible/entitled to redo parks? There are so many intricacies involved with the various facets of the development world, that to be a "developer" does not equate to a company who can do it all. Donatelli or Akridge or Clark Construction or any host of legitimate housing developers do not dabble in parks and rec centers. Why would a company that has no legitimate experience prior to Fenty being elected be entitled to almost $100 million in contracts.