Critics have noted the globe-trotting traveling habits of Mayor Anthony A. Williams, with the Washington Post flagging the mayor for taking 17 trips in a 20-day span in November.
“We really need him to be engaged,” Ward 4 Councilmember Adrian Fenty told the Post, criticizing Williams’ frequent absences.
But Travelin’ Tony isn’t the only peripatetic politician in the District. A Washington City Paper investigation reveals that Fenty has left Ward 4by his own accountduring 20 out of the past 20 workdays. The councilmember also confesses to frequently leaving Ward 4 on weekends.
“Every day,” Fenty admits. “I’m out of the ward every day.”
In a city where civic pride is intertwined with parochialism, Fenty’s wandering feet are cause for concern. “Councilman Fenty views a trip to the College Park IKEA as an international trade mission,” says mayoral spokesperson Tony Bullock.
Fenty’s motto, posted on his Web site, is “Serving Ward 4 First.” But the first-term councilmember has repeatedly sacrificed face time with his constituents in Crestwood, Petworth, and Takoma to travel to neighborhoods represented by other councilmembersor even to leave the District entirely.
On Nov. 13, Fenty dined with Chamber of Commerce members at the Washington Convention Center in Shaw, then split for a second course with the D.C. Hospital Association at the Washington Hilton. Two days later, Fenty returned to the convention center for the mayor’s Citizen Summit.
On Nov. 22, Fenty arrived at Second Baptist Church, on 3rd Street NW, for a luncheon honoring Vanilla Beanea longtime millinery shop owner in Ward 4.
On Nov. 28, Fenty sat for interviews with WTTG-TV Channel 5 and WUSA-TV Channel 9 at their studios in Friendship Heights.
On Dec. 1, Fenty ironed out issues with residents of other wards, he says, declining to name specifics, in a strategy session at the Cosí at 12th and G Streets NW.
Later that day, Fenty attended a reception at the Organization of American States building celebrating the independence of Barbados. “My family descends from Barbados,” he explains via e-mail.
Abandoning his home turf is a matter of routine, Fenty concedes. Every Saturday morning, he says, he travels to the downtown YMCA for his children’s swimming lessons. “Very often, my morning runs (every other day) go outside of the Ward,” he writes in an e-mail.
And Fenty’s exercise habits have even carried him clear out of the District. On Thanksgiving Day, he spent the morning in Bethesda, running the 10-kilometer Turkey Chase.
Some of the councilmember’s restlessness may be chalked up to family business. On Nov. 23, he says, he accompanied his children to another child’s birthday party in Wheaton.
But Fenty and his aides portray many of the trips as crucial to his efforts to bolster services for Ward 4 constituents. Interward travel, they say, is an essential part of his duties.
“I’ve got to go to work,” Fenty says. “I have to go to the Wilson Building.”
“City hall,” he explains, “is not in Ward 4.” CP
All Over the Map
A selection of recent travels outside Ward 4
by Councilmember Adrian Fenty:
1. Nov. 13, Convention Center, Chamber of Commerce dinner
2. Nov. 13, Washington Hilton, District of Columbia Hospital Association Dinner
3. Nov 15, Convention Center, Third Annual Mayor’s Citizen Summit
4. Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 29, downtown YMCA, swimming lessons
5. Nov. 22, Second Baptist Church, 816 3rd St. NW, Living
Legends Luncheon honoring Vanilla Beane, proprietor of the Beane Millinery shop for more than 25 years
6. Nov. 23, Wheaton, children’s birthday party
7. Nov. 27, Bethesda, 10-kilometer Turkey Chase
8. Nov. 28, WTTG and WUSA TV studios, television interviews
9. Dec. 1, Cosí at 12th and G streets NW, meeting with residents of other wards
10. Dec. 1, Organization of American States, 17th Street and
Constitution Avenue NW, reception celebrating Barbados
Independence Day (actual holiday Nov. 30)