Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Fenty Wins Edition

A deliberative roundup of one city's local politics. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • Sinclair Skinner Feels Vindicated By Report That Slams Him
  • Fenty Frat Scandal Not So Scandalous
  • Good morning sweet readers! LL would like to wish his grandmother, a steel magnolia if there ever was one, a happy birthday. Her age is none of your business. News time:

    Fenty Wins (A Moral Victory): The yearlong council investigation into former Mayor Adrian Fenty and whether he steered contracts to his fraternity brothers has found no evidence of wrongdoing on Fenty's part. Investigator Robert Trout, however, found plenty of wrongdoing on the part of Fenty's frat brothers, Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner, and recommends the U.S. Attorney's Office investigate further. The Trout report says Karim and Skinner's sins include overcharging the city and lying to investigators. The pair also had "undisclosed conflicts of interest, or worse, an unlawful scheme," says the report. Skinner held a news conference outside the Wilson Building to express his joy at being "vindicated" by the report. Skinner said he hadn't overcharged and there was nothing hinky going on with his other financial relationships with Karim. The Post tried to get Fenty to comment, but had to settle for former Attorney General Peter Nickles. Nickles noted that if the report had come out sooner, it might have changed the outcome of last year's election, in which Mayor Vince Gray repeatedly hammered Fenty for doling out contracts to his frat brothers. The WaPo editorial page, another reliable Fenty ally, seems to want Gray to apologize.

    LL's take: It's great for Fenty that he's been cleared, but he was the mayor when his best bud was allegedly ripping off taxpayers by overcharging by up to 400 percent on engineering work his firm had to farm out. LL never saw any evidence that this bothered Fenty in the slightest. Ditto for Nickles, who always responded to any question about Skinner by stating that he'd never met the dude. When your raison d'être is to create a leaner, meaner city government, you can't just look the other way when your friends are up to no good.

    AFTER THE JUMP: Shakeup Coming?; Mara To Be Booted?; Kwame's Problems Serious?...
    Staff Shakeup Coming?: NBC4's Tom Sherwood reports that Gray is "leaning" toward a shake-up of his senior staff following the disastrous last couple of weeks. "Sources said Gray is being strongly encouraged to replace chief of staff Gerri Hall, who is paid $200,000 a year but who has failed to head off or respond to a variety of problems, advisers said. The chief of staff is seen as a crucial missing link in Gray's slow start in office. The mayor also is beefing up his media operation, which also has been slow to respond to a crush of media attention." Also, what would a news cycle be without mention of Sulaimon Brown? Following in the footsteps of WUSA9, the Post goes into greater detail about Sulaimon's past run-ins with the law, which include a bunch of charges but only one conviction.

    Mara To Get the Boot?: The Board of Elections and Ethics will decide today whether to boot Republican Pat Mara off the April special election. Seems like the BOEE found what 80 potentially fraudulent signatures when combing through Mara's petitions. In other special election news, Sekou Biddle won the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsement and Bryan Weaver's name will be on the ballot.

    LL's editor, meanwhile, wandered the three blocks south along Warder Street from his home to the Lower Georgia Avenue Task Force candidate forum last night at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary, where everyone but Biddle and Jacque Patterson appeared (unless LL's editor missed another no-show, in which case he apologizes for the oversight but suggests you should have been there). The big news: The clock on the wall in the auditorium is stuck on 7:05. Josh Lopez and Mara both explicitly pitched themselves as outsiders; Vincent Orange has a tough time with one-word answers (though in fairness to VO, it's a little silly to expect a one-word answer to questions like, "Would you budget more money for health care?" in a city with significant challenges on both the health care and budget fronts). All the candidates struggled at times with the lightning round—Weaver's one-word answer to the question, "Was Adrian Fenty a good mayor?" was, "Ehhhhh. Is 'ehhhh' a good answer? Okay, on balance... Yes." Orange, alone among the candidates, said the $125,583 salary paid to D.C. Council members was not too much money, which was a politically dangerous, if admirably honest, answer. In a surprising bit of consensus, every candidate at the Lower Georgia Avenue Task Force forum said they supported developing lower Georgia Avenue. Otherwise, everyone took the positions they've been taking at every one of these things, except when they were trying hard not to take any positions at all.

    In Other News: Mark Plotkin reports that someone knowledgeable about the investigation of Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's 2008 campaign finances says there are "serious" problems. Harry Jaffe says the city needs new sweeping, strong ethics laws that would "order District politicians and high-ranking officials to disclose the following: every source and amount of outside income; every donation and freebee, from tickets and travel to meals and sweetheart deals; every meeting with city contractors; and every local and federal tax return." Councilmember Jack Evans hits the brakes on confirming Gray appointments Lloyd Jordan and Nicole Sorg. Did MPD Chief Cathy Lanier speak too soon in DC9 death? Gray talks up Walter Reed, says he will wield both carrots and sticks with developers.
    Gray sked: 10 a.m. groundbreaking of Educare. 11:45 a.m. school tours.

    Council sked: Legislative session day, the fun kicks off at 11 a.m.

    • AnotherDCResident

      All the at-large candidates have missed a golden opportunity to paint Biddle as the Gray/Brown crony candidate. Looks like we'll be stuck with another idiot CM. One guy can't screw it up that bad, though, right?

    • American Rogue

      “…Fenty passed the contract through the housing authority to avoid the city's slow-moving bureaucracy.”

      Note well that part of the “slow-moving bureaucracy” includes the established internal controls intended to properly examine procurements. Issues such as vendor selection, legitimacy of the need driving the purchase, and the capacity of the selected vendor (contract awardee) to actually perform the services/goods detailed in the contract are addressed during this process. This article appears to suggest the report looks askance to the Mayor’s efforts to subvert the normal procurement procedures! Please note that the Mayor is the city’s chief executive sworn, at least in part, to uphold the laws of the District of Columbia!

    • crazydcfolks

      why is it you fenty haters cant admit that you were wrong in believing the bull of the political allies of Gray who were doing his dirty work by starting this bogus investigation. And why do you insist on saying that routing the contracts to the housing authority was illegal when it wasnt. In fact it was the process Anthony Williams used and is where the idea came from. The Council was already bent on stopping any progress Fenty would've made so that they would have something to attack him with during the campaign. Fenty could've sent the contract to the Council and then blame them for the recreation centers not being built but what good would that have been for the citizens?? So instead of using the excuse he used another resource that was available to him and got the job done. I'd simply rather have an "arrogant" get things done Mayor than what we have now.

    • Not So Fast

      Fenty might be cleared by Trout but not the U.S.Attorney. Time will tell.

    • DCRez

      @crazydcfolks: Just like the GOP, just because you say something is so does not make it so. You said that routing the funds for contracts to the housing authority wasn't illegal, and that is a half-truth in this instance. Moving the public funds wasn't illegal, however, awarding those contracts in excess of 1 million dollars without Council approval WAS illegal. Mayor Williams NEVER usurped the Council like that.

      Fenty's Attorney General Peter Nickles, himself concluded that the city's housing authority failed to get the D.C. Council's approval before awarding $82 million in contracts for parks and recreation projects.

      In a letter to the D.C. Housing Authority HE said the agency violated the law that requires the council's OK for contracts above $1 million. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his aides bypassed that process by using the housing authority as a development mechanism for the projects.

      It is not hating Fenty but rather embracing the truth.

    • Brahmin

      Jim Graham was never implicated in the dirty dealings that Ted Loza was charged with---but Ted didn't sneeze without Jim saying bless you.

      Our court system establishes proof as beyond a reasonable doubt---which means he simply did not meet that burden. Should the DC residents wish to sue Fenty--where the burden is more likely than not--they would probably win. Because it is reasonable to believe Fenty should have known or had known.

    • Rick Mangus

      The U.S. Attorney's Office couldn't find their ass even if they had a GPS device!

    • noodlez

      @crazydcfolks-YOUR HANDLE AND COMMENT IS WHY FAGGIE FENTY'S ASS WAS BOUNCED!

      THE PURE IGNORANCE OF YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS AS SPELLED OUT IN YOUR COMMENT AND THE BULLSHIT THAT YOU FED INTO JUST SOLIDIFIES THE DECISION THAT THE MAJORITY OF WDC CITIZENS MADE LAST YEAR.

      THE WORST MAYOR WDC EVER HAD GOT YOU SPRUNG. THEY ACTUALLY HAVE STUDIES, ANONYMOUS MEETINGS AND REHABILITATION CENTERS FOR YOUR CONDITION THAT YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK INTO IN ORDER TO GET THE HELP YOU NEED TO GET OFF WHAT EVER IT IS YOU ARE ON. I DO HAVE TO GIVE THE CLUELESS CLOWN SOME CREDIT. HE PROVIDED THE FUEL TO GET A LIL’ BIT MO FOLKS INVOLVED THAT WOULD’VE NORMALLY RIDDEN THE PINE DURING THE PAST ELECTION CYCLE.

      “Nickles noted that if the report had come out sooner, it might have changed the outcome of last year's election, in which Mayor Vince Gray repeatedly hammered Fenty for doling out contracts to his frat brothers.” HEY UMMM crazydcfolks TAKE PLUG NICKLES WITH YOU. HE COULD USE SOME CLEAN TIME TOO!

    • kingdom girl

      I don't understand the still standing debate of Fenty vs. Gray. That ordeal is over folks. It's all a matter of ones opinion about both. We now have the opportunity to see what ole Mr. Gray is going to do that's so much better than all previous mayors. According to him (Mr. Gray), he’s going to save the city. By no means am I a fan of his but to be fair, he has to have a chance to prove himself. He is off to a very scary start. I was taught your first impression is most important and I believe it’s who you really are but we all will see.

    • Really?

      Brahmin.....Thanks You!

    • Southeast Ken

      @Rick Mangus; you make an interesting point. What is the role of the D.C. office of the U.S. Attorney?

    • http://citypaper Tony

      Hey Rickie, you are writing better. Is your wife lending a hand? I have begun the removal of you rick from "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth to remove all doubt.

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    • crazy

      American Rogue,

      DPR like several other agencies does not have procurement authority so can't write a contract or buy a pencil.

      In order to build DPR HAS to go through one of the following offices: Procurement, OPEFM(Allen Lew's former) or DMPED. First, they tried to use OPEFM but Harry Thomas and the council didn't allow it (in fact they wrote legislation against it). Then they used both Office of Procurement at DRES and DMPED. Both offices used Housing Authority to expedite the contracts. This practice is very old. Harry knew about it as well as Vince Gray. Especially Vince Gray since his own son, Carlos Gray was one of the construction managers for Housing authority for some of the contracts.

      The whole thing was blown out of proportion. Allen Lew used the same contractors over and over but nobody made a big deal about it.

    • Cleansweep

      Wake up, Washington. The city has/is changing and Vince Gray will be the last black mayor for exactly the kind of stuff that is going on now. Brown. He may be a baddie, but he had enough sense to keep those phone records. This is not going to go away. And, Gray? Hey, if he didn't know what his closest friends were doing, then what kind of administrator will he be for the city. This is just more cronyism, whether you like old cronyism, as with Gray, or new cronyism as with the younger Fenty, though I'm still a Fenty fan. He got arrogant in the end, the downfall of all.

    • http://citypaper Tony

      Did Allen Lew use any black general or sub contractors?

    • Really

      300 % mark up from a middle men who couldn't pass and engineering test and DC citizen’s don't know if we got the best price because it was an RFQ.

      N big deal and? Really?

    • @Really

      @really, and do you know how much Allen Lew's construction cost? DO you think the city got any deals with Allen's help?

      The fact is that Gray exaggerated. First he used the number 80 million knowing the city only awarded 4.5 to Banneker Ventures. He did it in purpose because he is a mean, low level man.

      Accept it and move on

    ...