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David Forrester, the president of a Rockville-based construction company that bears his family name, had a chance today to explain to the D.C. Council what exactly happened during the construction of Anacostia Senior High School.
By now you all know that LL has previously written how Forrester allegedly used an allegedly local company as a pass-through to take improper advantage of the city’s Certified Business Enterprise program. Contracts filed in court show how Forrester, the supposed 49 percent partner of the joint venture building Anacostia, controlled all bank accounts on the project and controlled about 95 percent of the work on the $50 million contract.
But Forrester had little to nothing to say about the Anacostia project. He acknowledged that Forrester controlled the bank accounts and had provided bonding for the entire project. He also insisted that the majority partner, EEC of D.C., had done 51 percent of the joint venture work.
“This is not an authentic joint venture, Mr. Forrester,” At-Large Councilmember David Catania said. “This was a joke.”
But when councilmembers, who have copies of the records that show the widely uneven division of labor, raised more questions, Forrester shut them down by pointing out that his company and EEC of D.C. are currently suing each other.
“That’s a subject of dispute in the lawsuit,” Forrester said, over and over.
Did Forrester have total control of the two previous joint ventures with EEC of D.C. on city projects, including the construction of the Department of Employment Services?
Subject of dispute.
This approach did not go over well. Councilmember Vincent Orange grew so frustrated that he asked that Forrester be sworn in. Orange told Forrester he was being “disingenuous.” Later, Orange told LL he’s asked the inspector general to investigate the Anacostia project (Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser says she’s informally asked the attorney general to weigh in, as well) and said he may call Forrester back to testify next week at a hearing on CBEs.
Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry told Forrester he was acting like a witness at a trial with his evasive answers.
“You’re president of the company? You better get another job,” Barry said, after Forrester pleaded ignorance to one of his questions about Forrester Constructions’ basic operations.
The hearing had extra importance because the council held up more than $2 million in change orders set to go to the joint venture at Anacostia until lawmakers could get some questions answered.
Forrester did his best to avoid even having his picture taken. When LL tried to snap pictures, Forrester would glare and then hold up a glass of water in front of his face. When he stood up to be sworn in, he turned his back toward D.C. Watch’s Dorothy Brizill, as she tried to take a picture. Eventually, though, LL managed to catch him.
Photo by Alan Suderman