NW CURRENT ON FENTY
Current Editorial - Mayor
Adrian Fenty has pushed an aggressive economic development agenda
since taking office. . . . But we worry that the desire for
action is too often cutting out the opportunity for reasonable
community input. The proposed public-private partnership at the
site of the Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library and Janney
Elementary School is a key example. The actions of the city's
economic development officials make it seem that they are not
interested in listening to neighbors--a radical disconnect from
the Adrian Fenty approach during his tenure on the D.C. Council
and during his mayoral campaign. Community leaders had to file
Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain public documents.
The city-sponsored meetings held ostensibly to vet proposals
did not provide an opportunity for unfettered questions. Instead,
city officials selected queries from among those submitted on
note cards by audience members.
And when the mayor was
ready to announce his administration's choice of LCOR Inc. to
develop an apartment building atop a new library, he did so at
a hastily arranged outdoor news conference--held just a few hours
after an early-morning announcement was distributed to the media.
Even Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh--who had pressed for consideration
of a public-private partnership at the site--was caught off-guard
and ended up speaking without having had the opportunity to see
the final proposal. The administration did not hold a community
meeting to discuss the details in the days before the announcement,
nor has it held one since.
This doesn't seem sustainable.
In contrast, the same office is pursuing the correct course in
the West End--after initial missteps that led to such a public
outcry that the D.C. Council rescinded legislation authorizing
negotiations about a land sale. Since then, the deputy mayor's
office has allowed neighbors to take the lead in analyzing facilities
needs. And now the office is holding its second public meeting
on the community's desires.
As the city continues its
ambitious development pace, it should replicate its West End
approach, not its many mistakes in Tenley.
NEIL RICHARDSON ON FENTY
MARK SEGRAVES, WTOP - When Neil Richardson joined Team Fenty
to work on the mayoral campaign, it was with a glimmer in his
eye and the enthusiasm of young man intent on saving the world,
or at least the city. Now, Mayor Adrian Fenty's former Deputy
Chief of Staff has quit and is questioning whether Fenty is the
populist he portrays himself as, or if he's something else.
"I think a lot of people are apprehensive and anxious --
you know, have a lot of anxiety about how their voice is being
heard and incorporated in the changes that are happening. We
do live in a democracy and it's not a dictatorship between the
election and the next election.". . .
Richardson tells WTOP he grew increasingly frustrated with being
shut out of Mayor Adrian Fenty's decision making process, and
he says he's not alone.
"I think as I listen to the folks in the neighborhoods and
I talk to people in the Wilson Building and other government
buildings, I think there is a growing frustration that there's
one single voice making all the decisions in the city. I don't
think that's what people had in mind when they elected Mayor
Richardson had started out as one of Fenty's top advisers both
on the campaign and in City Hall. His desk was just a few steps
from the mayor's. A few months ago Richardson was unceremoniously
deployed to another job, in another building. . .
Richardson says things have changed since Fenty took office a
"I think there were a lot of folks who were expecting this
populist young mayor to work very closely with public to make
decisions, very close with his former colleagues on the Council
and closely with his senior staff, some of whom like myself who
had served with him on the campaign. Unfortunately over time
I saw less and less interest in hearing new ideas and different
RAISES QUESTIONS OF FENTY'S SCHOOL SEIZURE
GARY EMERLING, WASH TIMES - - Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's takeover
of D.C. Public Schools blurs the lines of accountability for
school reform and places the D.C. Council in a role "fraught
with political minefields," according to a report commissioned
by the council. The 70-page report, compiled by the council's
Office of Policy Analysis . . . expresses concerns about the
possible pitfalls that accompany the takeover, including that
residents could have problems holding officials accountable because
the takeover dispersed authority throughout the executive branch
and that the shift "enlarged the bureaucracy regarding public
education." . . .
The report also states Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, and his hand-picked
schools chancellor, Michelle A. Rhee, have not openly shared
with the council many of their priorities for the school system
so far - which "could seriously undermine" the council's
oversight efforts this year.
FENTY FAB FLOPS FOR 2007
- The school takeover
- Naming a police chief who had been involved
in the torture of demonstrators
- The $50 million Verizon Center sweetheart
- The HPV vaccine requirement without adequate
- The way that Michelle Rhee was appointed.
- Fining anti-war demonstrators for putting
up protest notices
- Ending the taxi zone system
- The West End development rip-off
- The harassment of local journalists Gary
Imhoff and Dororthy Brizill
- Plan, abandoned, to destroy e-mails after
six months -
Support of Homeland Security takeover of
- Denial of right of car owners to make
personal appearance on parkng tickets
- Tripling the number of staffers earning
over $175k a year
- Plan to close large number of schools
without adequate justication
- Greater SE hospital loses accreditation
- Firing highly experienced librarians
- Firing library employees based on age
SLIGHTLY MITIGATED BY
- Fast response to Eastern Market fire
Getting rid of discriminatory restrictions
on old drivers renewing their licences
- Providing some new affordable housing
FENTY ERASING HISTORY AFTER SIX MONTHS
IF ADRIAN FENTY were the CEO of a corporation,
he could be headed for a big fine thanks to his new order to
destroy all city e-mails after six months. Such behavior could
easily be regarded as criminal by either the Security & Exchange
Commission or a state prosecutor.
As Steve King wrote in the Chief Executive
||||| The feds want your email-and that
could mean trouble. Just ask the CEOs of Deutsche Bank Securities,
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Salomon Smith Barney and U.S.
Bancorp Piper Jaffray. In December 2002, federal regulators slapped
the five firms with fines of $1.65 million each for failing to
preserve internal email.
The prosecutor leading the email charge
is, of course, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. As Citigroup
and Merrill Lynch discovered to their chagrin, Spitzer is a staunch
enforcer of the Securities and Exchange Commission regulation
17a-4, which requires trading firms to save copies of all email
for three years and keep them in a readily accessible place for
In this new environment, Wall Street brokerage
firms, which may have 10 million emails zipping across their
networks each day, have to archive the traffic and must keep
a hefty percentage of them at their fingertips. CEOs of nonfinancial
companies also realize they're going to have to do a better job
of maintaining access to emails, as prosecutors and plaintiffs'
attorneys take a page from Spitzer's playbook and demand 'electronic
discovery' of email. |||||
But the DC government, not being a corporation,
can destroy all the emails it wants when it wants and Fenty -
who seems to be racking up a lot of stuff to hide - is making
the destruction of embarrassing evidence a high priority.
The Washington Post reported:
||||| Fenty (D) issued the administrative
policy July 5 without any fanfare, authorizing the Office of
the Chief Technology Officer to eliminate most e-mails in what
he described as a cost-saving measure. The order wasn't made
public until last week, when it was posted on the Web site of
the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. "All e-mail
bearing a date older than six months . . . regardless of agency,
sender, recipient or any other attribute -- will be deleted automatically
and permanently from the D.C. government e-mail system,"
Fenty wrote in his order. "This deleted e-mail will not
be retained on any media or log."
Establishing a policy on e-mail retention
places the District in the forefront of the issue of how to deal
with government e-mails, which has affected record-keeping. The
District's policy includes a provision for preserving e-mails
that might be needed for legal matters. . .
The national debate over what to do with
government-generated e-mails has intensified in the past few
months after a scandal involving the White House. Several White
House e-mails, including some detailing the firings of federal
prosecutors, were deleted from private e-mail accounts. Under
federal law, the White House is required to maintain records,
including e-mails, involving presidential decision making and
Many local and state jurisdictions have
short retention periods for e-mails. And many claim - as does
the Fenty administration - to have review procedures to make
sure that important mail gets saved, but plainly speaking, this
is about the destruction of evidence. So if you want to sue the
city government you better do it within six months of the offense.
BULLIES IN THE PULPIT
WASHINGTON POST - On June
13, uber-activist Dorothy Brizill was handcuffed and led off
to jail after engaging in a row with an aide to Victor A. Reinoso,
deputy mayor for education, at the John A. Wilson Building. Another
community activist alleges that he was similarly targeted by
the Fenty team the same day. Robert Brannum, a substitute teacher
who has demonstrated against Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's takeover
of public schools, says he thinks the administration was angered
by loud comments he had made June 12 at the mayor's news conference
to announce the appointment of Michelle A. Rhee as school chancellor.
Brannum attended the announcement, on the steps of the Wilson
Building, and badgered the mayor and his aides several times.
Brannum said he learned he was under investigation by the public
school system for an alleged altercation with Reinoso. He said
Reinoso ultimately exonerated him when questioned by school system
investigators. . . Several community activists said the incidents
concerning Brizill and Brannum appear to be a form of intimidation
ARREST OF DOROTHY BRAZILL
VALENCIA MOHAMMED AFRO
- Many community activists say the recent arrest of Dorothy Brizill,
founder of D.C. Watch, was to send a message to other journalists
and activists to stop scrutinizing the actions of city officials.
. . "I always told my mother if I was ever arrested it would
be for some worthy cause but never in my whole life did I think
I would be arrested for asking for contact information from the
mayor's office, which should be made public anyway," said
Brizill. . . D.C. Watch, a well-respected non-profit organization
that focuses attention on waste, fraud, mismanagement and corruption
in the District of Columbia., has been probing the city government
"I was really shocked
when I heard Dorothy of all people was arrested. Dorothy is a
"doggit' journalist but she's not violent. I kept saying
to myself that somebody's up to something. I just don't know
what it is," said Sam Ford, reporter for WJLA- ABC 7 News.
The news of the arrest
concerned other reporters who said they believe the Fenty administration's
youthfulness, naivete and lack of good communication skills may
have contributed to the misunderstanding.
"I've known Dorothy
for years. When I heard what happened, I thought it was probably
an overreaction by the person who she confronted for information.
Dorothy is an aggressive person looking for the real story but
I have never known her to over step the bounds of decency,"
said Paul Wagner, reporter for WTTG--Fox TV News. . .
WE'VE SEEN POLITICIANS come into office
and act like klutzes in their first few months, but we can't
think of another one who has come in like Fenty with such an
aurora of arrogance combined with so many mistakes. Even Marion
Barry didn't start falling apart until after his first term.
Fenty sometimes reminds us of a fresh MBA
trying to prove his leadership by following all the bullet points
in some management book he picked up at an airport news stand.
He has put an excessive emphasis on proving his decisiveness
and virtually none on demonstrating judgment, working well with
a variety of constituencies and understanding that certainty
has no particular connection with competence.
It has only been a few months and he has
already thrown the school system for a loop, ended all democratic
participation in it, launched a direct assault on the city's
home rule charter, made a number of lousy appointments and agreed
to a sweetheart deal with Abe Pollin for a suite at the Verizon
Center that would be illegal if anyone in power in DC gave a
On other days Fenty reminds us of General
Becton, the last guy who insisted that all the school system
needed was for himself to be in charge. It was a certainty that
didn't last for long.
Add to Fenty's misdirected ego is the fact
that he was far more beholden to downtown business interests
and their guides, the Washington Post and the Federal City Council,
then he ever let on during the campaign. There is a reasonable
issue of integrity here. Linda Cropp at least let us know where
she was coming from. Fenty has not only failed us; he also fooled
GARY IMHOFF, DC WATCH - Fenty has made
it obvious that if anyone opposes him politically, he won't hesitate
to use his power as mayor to get you fired from your private
sector job [such as Robert Bobb] Fenty's petty vindictiveness
will harm any attempt his administration will make to institute
its school reform plans. His education aides have already made
it plain that they regard anyone who opposed his takeover as
an enemy, and that they won't work with them. But, almost without
exception, everyone who has been a schools and education activist
in this city for the past three decades opposed Fenty's plan.
Therefore, Fenty's young and inexperienced staffers intend to
develop and carry through with school reforms without consulting
with or working with the any of the leaders of the knowledgeable
core group who have tried for years to improve education in this
city. Since Fenty and his education aides don't themselves have
knowledge, experience, or expertise in education, this self-inflicted
wound will cripple any halfhearted efforts they may make in the
future to work with parents and citizens on school issues. This
isn't hardball politics; it's an ignorant young boy's fantasy
of hardball politics..
WRONG WAY ADRIAN
Like Wrong Way Corrigan who mistakenly
flew from New York to Ireland when he was meant to be going to
California, Adrian Fenty has his plane headed in the wrong direction.
Even before his inauguration,
Fenty made a number of errors that have raised serious apprehensions
about what lies ahead. These include a planned takeover of the
school system; the questionable appointment of Kathy Lanier as
police chief without consulting even with members of his own
team; and a suspiciously close involvement with the Federal City
The school system takeover is
a terrible idea for a number of reasons:
- It is a dagger aimed at the
heart of home rule. An elected school board was DC's first modern
victory in its struggle towards self government. Anthony Williams
callously eviscerated it and now Fenty wants to destroy it. This
makes him an enemy of home rule.
- The excuse that the takeover
will create a better school system has no basis in fact. For
example, the NYC model has had extremely mixed returns which
Fenty clearly doesn't understand as he has primarily listened
to its advocates and not to its victims. Furthermore, there is
nothing in Fenty's record that indicates sufficient knowledge
of education to justify his coup against an elected board.
- The concept essentially involves
replacing democracy with a corporate system. While democracy
is often flawed, it is inherently no more so than the failures
of the self-appointed and is inherently a fairer system.
- The very attempt displays a
gross misunderstanding of education. Education is, at its heart,
a personal relationship between teacher and student. The principals,
bureaucracies and superstructures are there for support and logistics.
Fenty, like so many, is treating education as a corporate organizational
problem. This is doomed to failure because it reduces the key
players - teachers and students - to the weakest position in
a corporate bureaucracy when, in truth, they should be its most
- A far better approach to school
reform would be to reverse the course that Fenty proposes. Instead
of tyranny at the top, permit the bottom to blossom.
For example, you could make every high school and its feeder
schools semi-autonomous systems with their own elected boards
made of up teachers, parents and community. By having multiple
systems at work in the city, you would quickly see which are
effective and which are not. Working on the principle of subsidiarity
(as used by the European Union, for example) government would
function at the lowest practical level, which in a school system,
is very close to the class room.
- It seems highly likely that
a primary reason for the takeover is to make valuable school
properties more easily available to developers and/or campaign
contributors. There is a name for this in urban politics; it
is called corruption.
Fenty's appointment of Chief
Lanier was done without adequate consultation, a disturbing hint
that he believes in the modern management myth that decisiveness
and certainty are adequate substitutes for competence. This is
not the case as Harvard Business School graduate George Bush
has amply demonstrated.
But beyond this is the serious
and undiscussed issue that Lanier aggressively supported the
abusive treatment of demonstrators who were - except for minor
violation of law - honest, decent citizens operating according
to their conscience. Instead of respecting this and treating
them civilly, Lanier and the police department engaged in an
extraordinary display of brutality almost without precedent in
the department's history. As City Paper's Loose Lips described
"Prior to the much-anticipated
April 2000 IMF/World Bank demonstrations, Lanier, by now an experienced
white shirt, was charged with preparing a plan for 'prisoner
control,' according to a deposition she would later give in a
civil case. Among the measures that Lanier & Co. developed
during the planning exercise was a method of prisoner restraint
known as 'hogtying,' in which the detainee's left wrist is cuffed
to his right ankle.
"Lanier justified hogtying
as a sound way to prevent arrestees from escaping, assaulting
police officers, or assaulting other arrestees. The tactic, she
said in a deposition, had 'met all of those goals.' . . . Then
came the events at Pershing Park. In September 2002, another
round of anti-globalization protests hit D.C. . . Ramsey and
his top deputies panicked, ordering the arrest of everyone in
the park without giving any warnings. The roundup netted not
just protesters but also passersby, tourists, and others. They
were hogtied, and some of them remained restrained for up to
18 hours. They would dispute Lanier's "not uncomfortable"
assessment of hogtying, pointing out that the restraints hampered
their circulation and left them numb in places. . .
"In January 2005, the city
paid out $425,000 to seven Pershing Park victims, part of a settlement
that also required a letter of apology from Ramsey to the plaintiffs."
LL adds: "The Pershing Park
experience, though, didn't sour Lanier on mass arrests. During
a march on the occasion of President George W. Bush's second
inauguration, police officers under Lanier's supervision swept
up roughly 70 protesters in Adams Morgan following a spasm of
vandalism. Plaintiffs in a January 2006 federal lawsuit claim
that the cops repeated the sins of Pershing Park in failing to
issue orders to disperse. They claim they were arrested despite
the fact that they were attempting to break from the protest
and had not committed any of the alleged property crimes. In
an affidavit on the Adams Morgan roundup, Lanier admitted that
no orders were issued prior to the arrests. But she justified
her actions by playing up the threat posed by the protesters:
'Members of the group were carrying pipes and torches.'"
Finally, it appears almost certain
that some sort of covert arrangement - perhaps implicit, perhaps
more conscious - has been made between Fenty and the Federal
City Council. In any case, the Council - a disingenuous polite
front for local corporados - is clearly exercising far more influence
in terms of appointments and policy than is good for the city.
In DC, one doesn't have to make a pact with the devil; making
one with the Federal City Council and its spiritual mentor, the
Washington Post, produces much the same results without the theological
It is not too late for Fenty
to turn his plane around and head in the right direction. Showboating
as Mr. Super Manager isn't going to fool people for long just
as it didn't with Anthony Williams. What does work is getting
a good team together that loves the city more than it loves campaign
contributors, that is willing to stand up for the people of the
city as opposed to those who just use the city to make a lot
It wouldn't hurt for Fenty to
pay attention to the telling silence over the departure of Williams.
It's hard to find anyone outside of the Board of Trade and the
Washington Post who's really sad to see him go. And it's worth
noting that, despite all his faults, Marion Barry was able to
maintain a constituency well past his prime. Why? Because he
had actually helped a lot of people when he wasn't destroying
If Fenty only pays off those
who paid for his election, he will end up on the losing end.
It he serves those who voted for him, he will turn into a winner.
TODAY'S CITY DESK TIP FOR
Bull pens are where farmers put bulls to
keep them from doing what they're supposed to do. Here's how
the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service suggests you do it:
1: Build a good, strong bull pen.
2: Remove bull from herd.
3: Pregnancy check all cows. Cull: a: All
open breeding-age females b: All open cows with calves 5 months
of age or older
4: Place bull with cows for 6 months.
In short, there's no action until you get
out of the bull pen. The same applies to rodeos and baseball
FENTY PUSHING UNCONSTITUTIONAL
ANTI-VIDEO GAME BILL
WIRED - Of all the flagrantly unconstitutional
attempts at legislating game sales, Fenty's proposed D.C. law
takes the cake. Called the "Youth Protection From Obscene
Video Games Act," the bill would outlaw any game with an
[Entertainment Software Rating Board] rating of "Mature"
or higher from being sold to minors. Similar measures with far
narrower provisions have been struck down in several states.
Not to mention the fact that Fenty's proposed law finds that
all M- or AO-rated games, apparently simply by virtue of their
being video games, "lack serious literary, artistic, political,
or scientific value." All of them. That will ever be created.
For eternity. Winners: The ESRB, who has proven time and time
again that they can decimate this sort of legislation with their
eyes closed. Losers: Washington, D.C. taxpayers. As Beltway website
The Hill put it: "If the ESA decides to sue, it could be
that Fenty is ready, willing, and able to cost D.C. taxpayers
a fortune in attorney fees."
ARTHUR DELANEY, THE HILL - An Oklahoma
judge issued a preliminary injunction against a law prohibiting
the sale of violent video games to minors. At the end of August,
a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction
against a similar law - this just after the state of Illinois
was ordered to pay over $500,000 in attorney fees to the video-game
industry after having its own restriction on video games ruled
to be unconstitutional. Judges have shot down these laws nine
times in the last five years, finding that video games are protected
by the First Amendment.
That hasn't stopped the D.C. Council from
plodding ahead with its own attempt to restrict video-game sales
with its "Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games Act."
The bill is pending before the committee on the Department of
Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. . . If the legislation passes,
a business could be fined up to $10,000 for selling games with
mature content to people under 17. And a parent who buys his
or her 16-year-old child any game in the "Grand Theft Auto"
series, for example, could be fined $1,000. At a hearing last
year, Fenty pooh-poohed a letter from the Attorney General's
office warning that this kind of legislation gets knocked down
for being unconstitutional all the time. Fenty insisted that
his bill is narrower than others.
"I'm ready, willing, and able to pass
this legislation and let the courts decide whether or not the
video-game industry should be held to the same standard they've
already agreed to," Fenty said at the hearing. His legislation
has the support of several community groups.