We tend to stay pretty apolitical, or should we say apathetic, when it comes to matters of government, but with the D.C. Democratic Primary coming up tomorrow, the time is ripe for a tabulation of all the misdeeds (or bad press, depending on your P.O.V.) that current Mayor Adrian Fenty has run up during his since taking office in 2007. True, they all may seem a bit white collar when compared to the rap sheet of "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry, but, damn, this dude's buddies donated a fire truck to the prostitution capital of the Caribbean.
As any followers of D.C. politics will note, this is far from a complete list and more of highlight reel -- one that could give a rerun of The Sopranos a run for its money any day of the week. On with the show:
Bring On The Chinese Paychecks
The Washington Post uncovered early last year that Fenty had received an all expenses paid, $11,300 trip to Beijing for the Summer Olympics, then followed up it up with $25,000 payday from United Arab Emirates to attend a tennis tournament in Dubai. In response to the hubbub that erupted around the issue, the mayor responded by saying that his travel record was personal business and that he would not be disclosing his whereabouts to the press -- ever.
Which, of course, caused quite a bit of confusion in March when the District's worst neighborhood shooting in nearly two decades left four dead and Fenty was nowhere to be found. So just where was the District's notoriously press conference loving mayor? In Jamaica...kickin' it with missus and twins.
We Just Like The Beach...Promise
The press had another field day in March of this year when the City Council took Fenty to task for letting a former frat brother not on the District payroll, Sinclair Skinner, and one of his mayoral attachés, David Jannarone, orchestrate the donation of a D.C. fire truck and ambulance to the beachfront town of Sosua in the Dominican Republic. Very generous -- except for the fact that the buddies took at least three trips to the Caribbean hamlet, instead of, say, making some long distance phone calls. Not to say that there's a connection, but Sousa is best known as one of the world's top five hotbeds of prostitution -- a fact that went unnoticed by the Council's investigators. To top it all off, Skinner pocketed some of the $11,000 Sosua paid back for transportation costs of the equipment. Don't worry, we haven't heard the end of him yet.
Mayor Fenty's Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers from his days at Howard University have a funny way of repeatedly turning up in city business. Fellow KAP member Omar Karim received a sweetheart $82 million contract to redevelop several D.C. parks and recreation centers with little or no vetting of their qualifications. One official who piped up was quickly fired and the projects rolled along until someone at the D.C. City Council realized the Mayor’s office had secretly routed them around their approval.
Fast forward a few months and it turns out that Karim's company was subcontracting engineering work out to -- you guessed it -- Sinclair Skinner, who, despite owning an engineering firm, isn't a licensed engineer. Instead, he sub-subcontracted the work out a qualified party, gave him a lowball figure, then marked up his invoices to the D.C. government by as much as 500%. As scrutiny of the arrangement intensified and all payments were ordered to stop, the Fenty machine went ahead and paid up $2.5 million to Karim's firm anyway -- on Christmas Eve when they hoped no one would notice.
Misappropriation of...Well, Almost Everything
Whether it's advertising his parent's athletic store with city dollars or insisting on traffic-clogging police escorts for his frequent bike rides, Mayor Fenty has made the misappropriation of city dollars, property and time an everyday occurrence. The general consensus seems to be that the Mayor used his influence to get his kids into a choice school, call dibs on Nationals tickets that he had no claim to, let his buddies take him for rides in city-owned vehicles and route millions of dollars to non-profit groups that can also seemingly do covert campaign work for his re-election.
Happy primary voting, y'all!