Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fenty: Corrupt Or Stupid, Take Your Pick


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.

13 comments:

Malnurtured Snay said...

I have to admit, although I've been in DC for about a year, I haven't really started paying attention to local politics until this whole baseball ticket thing came up this week, and I was like, "Why is WTOP putting so much focus on this?" and now I have a better idea why they are.

Jezebel said...

This is a great post and it deserves a better comment than this one: My hair gel is called "Set Me Up" and whenever I use it I yell "bitch set me up!" and I laugh and laugh. Fenty will never beat that.

Jamie said...

@snay, I'm glad. I hope if all the little guys keep talking about this, it will finally get some attention from the Post or the Times. The administration needs some accountability.

@Jezebel, that's awesome. Fenty's really making me miss the Barry administration. At least his antics were usually funnay as hell. This is just sad.

Shannon said...

I'm waiting for a "The Bitch Sent Me to Dubai" t-shirt.

Jezebel said...

Famous! You saw your excerpt in Express this morning?

Michael said...

I agree with your main point, but I cannot sit idly by and let you slander our ex-Mayor-for-Life. The woman with whom Marion Barry smoked crack, Rasheeda Moore, has been described as an ex-girlfriend and an unemployed model, but not a prostitute. The man has standards.

Jamie said...

@Michael, EX mayor for life? That's an oxymoron! If he runs against Fenty I will totally vote for him.

Anonymous said...

The Washington City Paper did a rare, great piece of reporting last June when they FOIA requested emails between WaPo reporter David The Nakamura and Fenty office's senior officials. The result was concrete evidence that the Post cozies up to the Mayor in exchange for exclusives. Despite repeated letters to two Post Ombudsmans, the issue has never been addressed and The Nakamura remains on the beat. He did lay low for about 2 months after the City Paper published the story. Great job on this post, we need to see a larger outcry for the lack of transparency for a Mayor who rode in on the image of open government.

Annoyingmous said...

For anyone interested, the City Paper article can be found here. Be aware that links in that article to other City Paper stories are mangled and will require manual cleanup. But that one should be fine.

Who votes for these people? said...

The Washington City Paper did a rare, great piece of reporting last June when they FOIA requested emails between WaPo reporter David The Nakamura and Fenty office's senior officials. The result was concrete evidence that the Post cozies up to the Mayor in exchange for exclusives. Despite repeated letters to two Post Ombudsmans, the issue has never been addressed and The Nakamura remains on the beat. He did lay low for about 2 months after the City Paper published the story. Great job on this post, we need to see a larger outcry for the lack of transparency for a Mayor who rode in on the image of open government.

April 16, 2009 4:38 PM


Wouldn't it be horrible if this happened on a federal level....oh, wait.

lustyreader said...

Did you see Fenty on Fox this morning on Fox 5? I think he does the rounds of all the local stations on Thursdays...but I was brushing my teeth with the tv on the other room and all of a sudden I heard Fenty's voice raised and upset so I ran in and what got him flipping out at my bff Steve Chenevey? They dared to ask him about missing Nationals tickets for his office.

Where there is smoke there is fire. Why would he get upset and go into such denial mode about discussing something so innocuous? It was disturbing to see him lose his cool like that.

Anonymous said...

All odds point to corruption. There was also the curious story about his kids' basketball team. The guy just believes he's above the law. I don't know what's wrong with The Post. They normally pounce on stuff like this. We can only hope The City Paper has something in the works.

Anonymous said...

what is criminal is his imprudent mis-appropriation and allocation of approximately $60 million to the 09 and 08 Summer youth programs. One of the heinous examples of his heavy hand, and rush, without fore thought and proper planning, to institute his initiatives, to garner dc public opinion and votes. He is ridiculous and a joke....i expected more....