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Loose Lips (7/1) dismisses the most recent contracting scandal in the Mayor Anthony A. Williams administration as a minor affair. City Administrator Robert Bobb steered sole-source, noncompetitive contracts to friends of his from Oakland, Calif., including an Oakland city-council member. City Auditor Deborah Nichols exposed the illegal contracting practices in an irrefutable, fully documented report. Yet Lips minimizes the whole affair and advises his readers that at least this instance of corrupt government contracting isn’t anything to be concerned about. He buys into the administration’s phony claim that its breaking the law and Nichols’ exposing the lawbreaking are merely two sides of a feud, and naively writes, “For the most part, this scandal isn’t about abusing the public trust. It’s mostly a battle of egos involving Nichols and Bobb.”
Williams and Bobb have responded to the exposure of the administration’s wrongdoing not with honest admissions and promises of reform, but with a disreputable attack on Nichols’ reputation in which Lips has joined. Lips even credulously repeats the administration’s phony claim that Nichols is simply a disgruntled job-seeker motivated by disappointment that she wasn’t appointed inspector general.
This line of attack is familiar to me. This administration’s regular practice is to launch personal attacks against those who expose its wrongdoing. When I filed a complaint against the forged and fraudulent nominating petitions that Williams submitted in the 2002 primary election, Abdusalam Omer, then the mayor’s chief of staff, made exactly the same charge against me—that I was simply a disgruntled job-seeker, disappointed that the mayor
hadn’t given me a position in the administration.
As city auditor, with minimal resources and a small staff, Nichols has done a much better job of exposing corruption and graft in the D.C. government than the Office of the Inspector General, which has 10 times her resources. She deserves our thanks and support for her years of honest and productive work, not the cheap-shot scorn of an article that advises the public to ignore the corruption she has devoted her public life to exposing.