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Even as rival David Catania plans to step up attacks on Muriel Bowser‘s ties to the Park Southern scandal this weekend, Bowser insisted today that her D.C. Council committee won’t hold a hearing to investigate what happened to missing funds at the Ward 8 affordable housing complex.
“Are you interested in show, or are you interested in results?” Bowser said this afternoon in a heated appearance on WAMU’s The Politics Hour, claiming that a hearing on the complex would become a political circus. Instead, Bowser wants the situation reviewed by the District’s Office of Inspector General—-an agency run by an interim head that isn’t exactly known for its hard-hitting investigations.
Conditions at the deteriorating complex would be at the center of any investigation over the management of the building, which has included Bowser supporters Phinis Jones and Rowena Joyce Scott. In April, the District took over the building after the complex fell more than two years behind in its loan payments to the city. After the takeover, Bowser questioned the District’s authority for seizing the complex—-a move she says was meant to preserve affordable housing, but which Catania backers say amounts to political payback for Scott and Jones, who’s trying to buy the complex himself.
On WAMU, Bowser declined to call on Jones, a longtime Ward 8 operator who is on the host committee for her July 31 birthday party/fundraiser, to return nearly $300,000 in rent he’s allegedly refused to give up.
In May, Department of Housing and Community Development director Michael Kelly had asked Bowser, whose economic development committee oversees housing, to hold a hearing on Park Southern.
Catania campaign manager Ben Young contrasted Bowser’s refusal to hold a hearing on Park Southern with Catania’s frequent hearings on the troubled United Medical Center hospital while he ran the Council’s health committee.
“This sort of hands-off approach to government should give everyone chills,” Young says.
In her radio appearance, Bowser also defended her refusal to debate any of her opponents until the ballot is set in September.
“We know Washington in the summer,” Bowser said. “People aren’t that focused on elections.”
Catania’s campaign is hoping for the opposite. This weekend, Catania’s campaign plans to distribute flyers, embedded below, that include Park Southern on a list of knocks against Bowser’s record as the chairman of the committee that handles housing. Not winning any points for subtlety, the flyers include a picture of an empty chair with Bowser’s name on it.