There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
If you’re going to San Francisco—as Mayor Muriel Bowser did at the beginning of February, for a tech-focused economic development trip—be sure to get some face time with “2 Legit 2 Quit” Stanley Kirk Burrell, better known as MC Hammer.
That’s what Bowser did, according to the mayor’s internal schedule for the trip, obtained by City Paper through an open-records request. Herroner had 30 allotted minutes with the Oakland native and hip-hop artist on the evening of Feb. 9, the first day of her four-day journey to California.
Along with mayoral Chief of Staff John Falcicchio and other, unspecified “participants,” Bowser met Hammer at a blocky office building in San Mateo, located about 15 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco.
A spokeswoman for Bowser’s office says Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner also joined the meeting, “which was planned as a discussion about diversity in tech and nurturing an inclusive startup ecosystem.”
Hammer, 55, became a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, and adviser with significant cachet after burning through his “U Can’t Touch This“-fueled fortune in the 1990s. It financed a massive entourage, a swanky 40,000-square-foot mansion in Fremont, thoroughbred horses, various modes of private transportation, and legal fees and settlements—until it didn’t.
In recent years, Hammer has invested in the D.C. tech scene through a Leesburg-based venture capital firm.
No word on what he might do next in the District. A longtime visitor to the nation’s capital, he just might swing by the Hamilton for a grilled portabello sandwich, or José Andrés-owned Beefsteak for a “Beet Steak Burger,” having done both in the past. Hammer is reportedly an investor in Beefsteak and has posed for the camera with Andrés there.
Speaking of food: After her meeting with Hammer, Bowser had a scheduled two-hour dinner at an undisclosed location—with undisclosed company—the records obtained by City Paper show. The venue is redacted from the document, and the mayor’s general counsel claimed an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. This “information [is] of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” it wrote.
Before departing for the West Coast, Bowser in a statement had called the trip a “first-of-its-kind … opportunity to attract businesses and capital that will help us spread prosperity across the District.” The administration has said it “connected with 37 companies” during the trip.
On her first day in the Bay Area, she met with Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman at the company’s headquarters, toured the Apple Store in San Francisco’s Union Square, and rubbed shoulders with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. These events were to last between 30 minutes and an hour each, according to Bowser’s internal schedule.
The mayor spent an hour the next morning on an “Autonomous Ride with Uber” near Union Square. Herroner rode shotgun and the vehicle was “sometimes guided by an Uber employee in the driver’s seat,” according to the Washington Post. After she returned from her trip, Bowser announced a pilot program for self-driving cars in D.C. as well as a “working group” to study the issue.
About halfway through the trip, on the afternoon of Feb. 10, Bowser took a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Once there, she had dinner at chichi Japanese restaurant Nobu Malibu (even though the District has its own Nobu outpost, whose 2017 opening Washingtonian panned). The reservation was in Chief of Staff Falcicchio’s name.
What did Bowser order? The records obtained by City Paper don’t say, but if the mayor’s self-admitted predilection for shrimp is any indication, it might have been Nobu Malibu’s $28 “Rock Shrimp Tempura with Ponzu or Creamy Spicy Sauce” or $47 “Shrimp with Lobster & Spicy Lemon Sauce.”
Whatever the case, the spokeswoman for Bowser says taxpayers didn’t foot the mayor’s dinner bills. “The evening events on Friday and Saturday were social gatherings,” she says. “No government funds were expended for the meals.”
The next day, Bowser toured the facilities of SpaceX and The Boring Company at “1 Rocket Road” in Hawthorne, L.A. County, both founded by technologist Elon Musk. Last November, the District granted the latter company a permit to do excavation work on New York Avenue NE for a potential Hyperloop station—part of Musk’s vision to build a high-speed tunnel network between D.C. and New York.
“Shoes may get a little dusty during the tour of the Hyperloop construction site,” Bowser’s schedule notes.
A few hours later, the mayor had an unspecified “event,” at an unspecified location, per her schedule. The spokeswoman for Bowser says this was a “campaign event,” deferring further comment to the mayor’s electoral team for the 2018 race, in which she is seeking re-election.
Bill Lightfoot, Bowser’s campaign chairman, says in an interview that he was not at the event and can’t speak to the details. But he adds that when the mayor travels, “it’s common practice” during campaign season for her to attend campaign events.
“There are many people who support her agenda—friends, relatives, businesspeople, different associations—who have connections to the District of Columbia,” says Lightfoot, a Green Team stalwart who’s now chairing his fourth D.C. mayoral campaign. “Oftentimes, people will reach out to her ahead of time and say, ‘I will organize a meet-and-greet.’”
“L.A. is a very big city,” he says when asked who some of Bowser’s supporters there might be. “Obviously, in the campaign you try to get commitments from as many people as you can. It’s about getting votes and voters. Whether they live here or not, they’re able to influence people who live in the District of Columbia.” Lightfoot declined to say whether he discussed Bowser’s West Coast trip with her.
Bowser stayed at a hotel near Santa Monica Beach. She returned to D.C. on Monday, Feb. 12.
Cue the music.