Loose Lips

Catania Pushes for Council Investigation of Housing Complex Tied to Bowser Backers

The growing controversy over the Park Southern housing complex made it to the D.C. Council dais today, as At-large Councilmember and mayoral hopeful David Catania pushed for rival and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser's committee to investigate missing funds tied to two of her prominent supporters.

The dispute, first reported by the Washington Post, centers on the deteriorating Park Southern housing complex in Ward 8. With the property beset by tenant disputes, alleged mismanagement, and more than $600,000 in debts to the D.C. government, the District took over the building in April.

Former Ward 8 Democrats president Rowena Joyce Scott, who leads the nonprofit group that previously ran Park Southern, claims that the property seizure is an attempt by Gray to punish her backing Bowser during the mayoral primary. Bowser, whose economic development committee covers housing issues, reportedly wanted to know details about the takeover and asked for information about the legal authority behind the Park Southern seizure.

Another Bowser supporter in Ward 8, Phinis Jones, is attempting to buy the property. His management company, which once worked on Park Southern, has reportedly not handed over $300,000 worth of rent to the District's operator.

Today, Catania's campaign seized the story. In a press release, the campaign called on Bowser to investigate Park Southern and find out, among other things, where the money has allegedly withheld went. (Jones' lawyer didn't respond to LL's request for comment.)

"Why is Councilmember Bowser refusing to hold a hearing to assist the tenants of Park Southern and to get to the bottom of this alleged misconduct?" the release reads.

Catania followed up during today's lengthy final Council meeting before the summer recess with an amendment that would have permitted Bowser's committee to launch an investigation during the break.

Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry said he hadn't heard about the proposed investigation on his home turf, while At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange said the legislation was politically motivated (and he should know!). Catania offered to drop the amendment if Barry could explain what happened to the money. Even when Barry didn't take him up on the offer, though, Catania eventually withdrew it.

For her part, Bowser says she isn't blocking an attempt to investigate Park Southern.

"Political grandstanding and baseless accusations don't improve the conditions at Park Southern, and that's why [Bowser] called on the Administration and the management to come to the table to get to the bottom of the issues," Bowser campaign spokesman Joaquin McPeek writes in an email.

But Scott isn't just an average Bowser supporter. Instead, according to Vince Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies, Scott contributed to Gray's surprise loss to Bowser in the Ward 8 straw poll.

Early in the primary race, Gray thought Scott was backing him, according to Thies. Scott's loyalty was so unquestioned that campaign included her in a private planning meeting at Martin Luther King Ave. SE's Bunn Building ahead of the straw poll. Scott failed to deliver her votes for the straw poll vote, which helped contribute to Gray's loss, according to Thies.

Later in the race, Scott appeared in a Washington Post article as a Bowser supporter, a revelation that Thies says "appalled" him and points to her attempt to curry favor with the mayoral hopefuls.

"She was losing her stature, her livelihood, her home, everything was on the line," Thies says. 'They say there’s nothing more dangerous in nature than a wounded animal. Well, there’s a wounded animal."

For her part, Scott blames Gray's disappointing straw poll showing on poor planning and Gray's late entry into the race. She denies any wrongdoing in connection with Park Southern and says that she thinks both she and Bowser are caught in Catania's campaign ploy.

“It’s politics, so he’s trying to give it his best shot," Scott tells LL. "Bless his heart."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Bob

    Isn't Jones, the $300K rent deadbeat (or thief?), also Bowser's east of the river campaign coordinator? If so, Bowser's mayoral quest is starting to stink like a rotten fish.

  • NE John

    Who cut the cheese?!?!?

  • Seems Like Old Times

    Fenty See ... Fenty Do ...

    Bowser campaign cancels event hosted by controversial Fenty ally Sinclair Skinner 3/5/14 ...

    DC Superior Court Judge finds Peaceoholics official, Fenty/Bowser Supporter misused DC grants on Bling, orders repayment of $639,000 7/1/14 ...

    Peaceoholics Co-Founder and “Fenty/Bowser Supporter” Ron Moten Crowdsources His Legal Fees 7/9/14 ...

    Bowser to Host "Pay to Play" Birthday Fundraising Extravaganza on 7/31/14 at Takoma Park Enabler's House ... See the Corruption with Your Own Eyes! Purchase Your Influence Now!

    Racist White Ward 3 Fenty Supporters Pledge Unequivocal Support of Aunty-Tom Bowser!

    Fenty See ... Fenty Do ...

  • justsayin

    “It’s politics, so he’s trying to give it his best shot," Scott tells LL. "Bless his heart."

    So what? The same type of political motivation exposed loose threads, that when tugged unraveled Gray's shadow campaign.

  • Sixteenth Street Heights

    Miss Catania wants to grandstand. Bowser is trying to grandstand on the death of an Asian merchant the 4th of July in 16th Street Heights. Boswer and Catania both aren't worth shit.

  • DCShadyBoots

    There is clearly a problem and 300k missing. Politicians have recently gone to prison for much less. An investigation IS warranted. The problem with this Council is that they always need an embarrassing US Attorney investigation to force them to grow up and do their job.

    With our history, it isn't grandstanding to ask for an investigation, in fact it should be second hat.

  • lost cause

    seems to me if they weren't big supporters of bowser's she would hold a hearing and find out where the hell my tax dollars have gone...but maybe she don't care...it's a ward 8 thing and we know she don't care pass ward 5.

  • Tight Lips

    lol and Bowser was the best candidate out of that election?

  • NE John

    A bunch of MF'ers. I would tell my grandkids.

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