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Supporters of mayoral candidate and Ward 4 Councilmember Adrian Fenty often play up the generation gap between their candidate and his chief rival, D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp.

They’ve repeatedly tried to present their cause as a battle between the old and new. And the 35-year-old Fenty has an extremely young paid staff to back up the claim that his campaign is bursting with youthful energy and enthusiasm.

His fresh-faced workers bring Fenty another advantage in a marathon campaign: They work on the cheap.

So far, the regular-season fundraising race is essentially even. During her five-month tilt, Cropp has raised $821,233. Fenty has brought in $905,800, but he’s taken eight months to do it.

The big difference comes in Fenty’s ability to stretch a buck. Since he formally kicked off his bid, Fenty’s average monthly expenditure has been $36,151. Cropp’s monthly average: $75,742. It’s no surprise that Cropp, 58, would attract a more seasoned campaign team. But her paid workers apparently need a bit more campaign cash to maintain a grown-up lifestyle—payments to top full-time staff are a big part of the spending gap. (See chart.)

Cropp loyalists argue that comparing their five-month effort with Fenty’s longer run is unfair. “Don’t forget, he spent about $300,000 during his exploratory period,” says Cropp campaign manager Phyllis Jones.

During his seven-month journey to becoming an official candidate for mayor, Fenty used this “exploring” cash to cover some big start-up costs. He paid almost $72,000 for a poll much broader than one that would have simply determined whether he should take the mayoral plunge. He spent about $65,000 on consultants and ponied up cash for several events that helped him grease the money skids. Every penny spent on the Cropp 2006 effort is listed on the Jan. 31 report. Cropp says Fenty’s exploratory spending spree paid for “the things we are buying right now.” She also points out that she coughed up rent for her 1413 K St. NW campaign office “upfront.”

Those big expenses for Fenty, though, narrow the month-by-month spending gap only slightly. The Fenty exploratory spending bumps his average outlay to $43,687 per month. And it doesn’t change the difference between the salaries for Cropp’s and Fenty’s top full-time staffers. And what is Cropp getting for her robust spending? “I have experienced, professional folks—a professional campaign,” she says. For those who wonder what her hefty staff salaries add up to, Cropp has a simple response: “Victory.”

Cropp field general Marshall Brown has a more direct rejoinder to those impressed by the Fenty campaign’s financial efficiency: “Adrian ain’t lean and mean as shit,” says Brown. “Those guys have been out there a year and a half. We’ve been up for five months.” Brown says all campaigns have big start-up costs. According to him, the Cropp campaign gets good value out of the three-man Capitol Solutions Group, which handles the candidate’s field operations. “I alone should be worth $12,000 per month,” says the veteran operative. “That is the going rate. Really, we are underpaid.”

Cropp’s investment in Brown and his team is a major nod to the campaign ground war. Fenty has been relentless in his door-to-door efforts, and he’s relied on his small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers to fan out in the neighborhoods to help greet voters. Cropp, too, is hitting the neighborhoods with her share of volunteers. But the Capitol Solutions bill includes reimbursement for paying people to canvass D.C. neighborhoods, according to Brown.

Cropp loyalists offer one big reason for Fenty’s bargain-basement staff payroll: He saves money by acting as his own campaign manager. While Cropp is busy running the council, Fenty is steering his election bid. He describes his day-to-day role as “very active” but dismisses the notion that he’s pulling all the levers on the Fenty machine. “We have people who are responsible for implementing all aspects of the campaign,” he says.

BIG-LEAGUE NICKEL AND DIMING

During D.C.’s two-year baseball stadium argument, ballpark boosters have been quick to highlight all the benefits the city will reap from keeping the Nationals around. Since the start of the great debate, one often-discussed goody has been a bonus payment that would flow to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. Since the announcement of the original stadium agreement, the league has agreed to donate $1 for every ticket sold after 2.5 million customers have paid up.

According to a Major League Baseball (MLB) spokesperson, 2,731,993 tickets were sold during the Nats’ first season. Simple math says that would produce $231,993 for the commission.

MLB hasn’t yet coughed up the cash.

Back in October, when MLB announced a $25 million first-year profit for the Nationals, team officials and sports-commission staff said certain accounts needed to be reconciled before MLB could present the bonus check. The parties gave the same response to a reporter’s inquiries in November, December, and January: The final accounting had not been completed.

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LL asked the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) to help clear up the confusion. An OCFO spokesperson replied that the RFK lease agreement between MLB and the commission does indeed include a provision regarding monetary compensation if paid attendance exceeds 2.5 million. The lease also includes a specific calculation for determining paid attendance that discounts charity tickets and other giveaways.

A source familiar with the talks says that MLB is using the calculation to minimize the attendance figure, potentially reducing the payment by tens of thousands of dollars.

According to D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chair Mark Tuohey, the final settlement between MLB and the commission should be finalized in the next few weeks. The payment, he says, is “part of a larger reconciliation that we have to get squared away,” and a spokesman for the commission indicates the payment issue will be resolved by the end of February.

MLB has picked a strange time to be stingy. After all, the council recently voted to support a lease for a new stadium in Southeast. The cost of the new D.C.-business-funded ballpark was capped at about $611 million, a contribution that has increased the value of the Nationals by several hundred million dollars.

MLB reconfirmed the official paid-attendance figure but did not return calls regarding the unpaid attendance “bonus.”

BARRYING THE HATCHET

The Feb. 9 send-off for departing D.C. Department of Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini seemed like the perfect time for a little fence-mending. Among the 100-plus attendees in a pleasant and generous mood was a smiling and glad-handing Ward 8 Councilmember Barry. He mounted the stage in the Reeves Center lobby and gave Tangherlini a warm, public pat on the back for helping bring fresh pavement to his long-neglected ward.

LL was so moved by the moment that he couldn’t resist reaching out to Barry, who has refused to speak with the Washington City Paper since at least 2004. And some Barry supporters have suggested that their guy was not pleased with a recent City Paper cover story (“‘He’s Still Marion Barry,’” 2/3) highlighting his activities at his former abode at the Washington View apartment complex.

When LL offered his hand, Barry pulled back. “You know I don’t talk to you,” Barry said. LL then tossed out a peacemaking cliché, offering to “bury the hatchet.” Replied Barry: “Bury it in your back! That’s what I’d say.”—James Jones

The Wage War

FENTY STAFF

Alec Evans campaign manager

Age: 26

Monthly Salary: $5,500

Return on Investment:

Few people would sign up to match Fenty’s work schedule hour for hour. Evans also has the energy needed to recruit campaign volunteers to the bitter end of late-night bar crawls.

John Falcicchio fundraiser

Age: 26

Monthly salary: $4,000

Return on Investment:

The veteran of the Fenty exploratory effort has kept tabs on where the campaign cash has come from since Day 1.

Sinclair Skinner volunteer coordinator

Age: 36

Monthly Salary: $3,334

Return on Investment:

The grassroots activist adds a strong dose of anger, fire, and street cred to a sometimes too-polite Fenty crowd. You can’t win with D.C. transplants and good-government nerds alone.

Neil Richardson policy director

Age: 42

Monthly Salary: $2,000

Return on Investment:

Nothing like a disgruntled former staffer from Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ Neighborhood Action Office to help rally the troops.

CROPP STAFF

Phyllis Jones campaign manager

Age: 56, according to public records

Monthly Salary: $12,000

Return on Investment:

The radicaly-leftyÐturnedÐD.C. Council secretary can open any door in town and command respect. She’s worked on successful citywide campaigns for figures ranging from Marion S. Barry Jr. to Fenty campaign chair Bill Lightfoot.

Capitol Solutions Group field operations

Kevin McGhaw, President, 32 Marshall Brown, Chief Consultant, 60 Che Brown, Consultant, 38

Monthly Payment: $24,324

Return on Investment:

Hiring Marshall Brown and his crew away from Marie Johns made Cropp look like an instant winner. The old veteran has east-of-the-river cachet and lives for the rumble in the trenches.

Deborah Clark scheduler

Age: 52, according to public records

Monthly Salary: $5,000

Return on Investment:

The former Greer, Margolis, Mitchell, Burns & Associates consultant lends big-time panache to the Cropp bid. (The firm advised the Clintons, after all.) She claims expertise in “social marketing.”

Jeff Smith senior advisor

Age: 31

Monthly Salary: $4,400

Return on Investment:

The young professional and D.C. Board of Education member maintains constant, youthful presence at Cropp’s elbow—usually within camera range.

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