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Good morning sweet readers! LL would like to wish his grandmother, a steel magnolia if there ever was one, a happy birthday. Her age is none of your business. News time:
Fenty Wins (A Moral Victory): The yearlong council investigation into former Mayor Adrian Fenty and whether he steered contracts to his fraternity brothers has found no evidence of wrongdoing on Fenty’s part. Investigator Robert Trout, however, found plenty of wrongdoing on the part of Fenty’s frat brothers, Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner, and recommends the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigate further. The Trout report says Karim and Skinner’s sins include overcharging the city and lying to investigators. The pair also had “undisclosed conflicts of interest, or worse, an unlawful scheme,” says the report. Skinner held a news conference outside the Wilson Building to express his joy at being “vindicated” by the report. Skinner said he hadn’t overcharged and there was nothing hinky going on with his other financial relationships with Karim. The Post tried to get Fenty to comment, but had to settle for former Attorney General Peter Nickles. Nickles noted that if the report had come out sooner, it might have changed the outcome of last year’s election, in which Mayor Vince Gray repeatedly hammered Fenty for doling out contracts to his frat brothers. The WaPo editorial page, another reliable Fenty ally, seems to want Gray to apologize.
LL’s take: It’s great for Fenty that he’s been cleared, but he was the mayor when his best bud was allegedly ripping off taxpayers by overcharging by up to 400 percent on engineering work his firm had to farm out. LL never saw any evidence that this bothered Fenty in the slightest. Ditto for Nickles, who always responded to any question about Skinner by stating that he’d never met the dude. When your raison d’être is to create a leaner, meaner city government, you can’t just look the other way when your friends are up to no good.
AFTER THE JUMP: Shakeup Coming?; Mara To Be Booted?; Kwame’s Problems Serious?… Staff Shakeup Coming?: NBC4’s Tom Sherwood reports that Gray is “leaning” toward a shake-up of his senior staff following the disastrous last couple of weeks. “Sources said Gray is being strongly encouraged to replace chief of staff Gerri Hall, who is paid $200,000 a year but who has failed to head off or respond to a variety of problems, advisers said. The chief of staff is seen as a crucial missing link in Gray’s slow start in office. The mayor also is beefing up his media operation, which also has been slow to respond to a crush of media attention.”Also, what would a news cycle be without mention of Sulaimon Brown? Following in the footsteps of WUSA9, the Post goes into greater detail about Sulaimon’s past run-ins with the law, which include a bunch of charges but only one conviction.
Mara To Get the Boot?: The Board of Elections and Ethics will decide today whether to boot Republican Pat Mara off the April special election. Seems like the BOEE found what 80 potentially fraudulent signatures when combing through Mara’s petitions. In other special election news, Sekou Biddle won the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsement and Bryan Weaver‘s name will be on the ballot.
LL’s editor, meanwhile, wandered the three blocks south along Warder Street from his home to the Lower Georgia Avenue Task Force candidate forum last night at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary, where everyone but Biddle and Jacque Patterson appeared (unless LL’s editor missed another no-show, in which case he apologizes for the oversight but suggests you should have been there). The big news: The clock on the wall in the auditorium is stuck on 7:05. Josh Lopez and Mara both explicitly pitched themselves as outsiders; Vincent Orange has a tough time with one-word answers (though in fairness to VO, it’s a little silly to expect a one-word answer to questions like, “Would you budget more money for health care?” in a city with significant challenges on both the health care and budget fronts). All the candidates struggled at times with the lightning round—Weaver’s one-word answer to the question, “Was Adrian Fenty a good mayor?” was, “Ehhhhh. Is ‘ehhhh‘ a good answer? Okay, on balance… Yes.” Orange, alone among the candidates, said the $125,583 salary paid to D.C. Council members was not too much money, which was a politically dangerous, if admirably honest, answer. In a surprising bit of consensus, every candidate at the Lower Georgia Avenue Task Force forum said they supported developing lower Georgia Avenue. Otherwise, everyone took the positions they’ve been taking at every one of these things, except when they were trying hard not to take any positions at all.
In Other News: Mark Plotkin reports that someone knowledgeable about the investigation of Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown’s 2008 campaign finances says there are “serious” problems. Harry Jaffe says the city needs new sweeping, strong ethics laws that would “order District politicians and high-ranking officials to disclose the following: every source and amount of outside income; every donation and freebee, from tickets and travel to meals and sweetheart deals; every meeting with city contractors; and every local and federal tax return.” Councilmember Jack Evans hits the brakes on confirming Gray appointments Lloyd Jordan and Nicole Sorg. Did MPD Chief Cathy Lanier speak too soon in DC9 death? Gray talks up Walter Reed, says he will wield both carrots and sticks with developers. Gray sked: 10 a.m. groundbreaking of Educare. 11:45 a.m. school tours.
Council sked: Legislative session day, the fun kicks off at 11 a.m.