About a week ago I started writing a great big long post about Adrian Fenty and how his administration has been a tremendous letdown. I never posted it because honestly, it was too long. But it seemes like a day doesn't go by where another mini-scandal isn't splattered all over the blogs, and I wanted to say something about it. The common theme has been opacity in the administration. Every request for comment about Fenty's schedule, an apparent conflict of interest, or any situation with an appearance of impropriety (of which there are many) is simply met with stonewalling.
WTOP reporter Mark Segraves has been tirelessly holding the Fenty administration's feet to the fire. Unfortunately, it seems that he's about the only mainstream (e.g. non-blog) reporter who cares about this. Marc Fisher has commented on the brouhaha around Fenty's mysterious Dubai trip, but otherwise the Post hasn't had much to say about any of this. Which is too bad - because it's becoming a daily embarassment, and as long as the major outlets continue to give Fenty a pass, it's doubtful anything will change.
This administration reeks of corruption. Peter Nickles, the Attorney General, was appointed by Fenty... and is a longtime personal friend. After the previous AG Linda Singer resigned in disgust, because Fenty was essentially tying her hands. That's checks and balances?
This is where investigative reporting is needed. While the Washington Post has never really excelled at covering local politics, there is without a doubt a big story to be found here. Let's hope someone with the resources and connections is working on finding it. Perhaps we're starting to see one of the real consequences of the fall of conventional media and the rise of internet "journalism." Sure, every local blogger is complaining about Fenty now, but nobody can point to a law he's broken. We aren't journalists - we are just observers. While there is value in the perspectives of the common man, we don't find news, we just aggregate it and snark about it. If we lose real investigative reporting, then we might as well be living in a propoganda state because there will be no watchdogs. And Fenty's sure acting like there's no watchdog.
In one recent situation, Fenty is off on another mystery trip, and when asked where he was going, simply said "I'm not telling." Yet his scheduled meeting with the NYC Schools Chancellor was on the Chancellor's public schedule! So the administration appears to just have a policy of opacity. Now what possible reason could there be for concealing from the public information about official business? The only thing I can come up with is, to deflect attention from all the other shady stuff that's going on. Put another way, by keeping everyone in the dark all the time, it makes it much harder for people on the outside to know when something untoward is happening.
I can think of no legitimate reason for an elected official to have a policy of an information blackout as to his whereabouts and activities. There is an old Chinese proverb which states, "Never tie your shoes in a watermelon patch." The point of this proverb is that if you do not want to be treated like a thief then don't act like a thief -- and bending down to tie your shoes would look to an observer as if you were stealing a watermelon.
Fenty is tying his shoes in the watermelon patch. So either he's stupid or he's stealing watermelons. Frankly, we deserve better than this from our mayor. In some ways, the city has come a long way since our Marion Barry was arrested for smoking crack with a prostitue and the most popular tourist souvenier was a "Bitch Set Me Up" tee-shirt. In other ways, it looks like it's still business as usual. What a shame.