Mendelson: City Should Back Off Tennis Center Eviction
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At large) said yesterday that the city should drop its effort to evict Cora Masters Barry's organization from the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center now that the Recreation Wish List is once again a registered D.C. corporation.
"This kind of thing could have been handled with a phone call," said Mendelson, chair of the Council's Judiciary Committee, who wrote District Attorney General Peter Nickles asking him to spare the city an "embarassing" legal battle.
"The Attorney General can't go to court to evict someone if he hasn't gone through the process," Mendelson said. "The eviction notice violates the lease agreement because it fails to state the reason for the eviction, and second, the District has not provided a notice of default."
Nickles said the city evicted Barry because when her group signed a lease in 2006, it was not a registered D.C. corporation.
Lawyers for Barry have filed papers to correct what Mayor Adrian Fenty has called a "technical" issue, Nickles said today, "I have not seen the paper work."
Bolden said the city misunderstands Wish List's legal status. "The government believes that we are a government contractor when in fact we are a tenant and as a tenant in a building we are afforded certain protections," he said.
Comparing himself to Simon on American Idol, Nickles said "I'm sorry," as he proceeded to shoot down the arguments.
"Cora Masters Barry is a great lady and Phil Mendelson is great councilmember but he is not a lawyer and A Scott Bolden is a great lawyer, but the argument they are making just doesn't wash. They are absolutely wrong."
Nickles said that the goverment will treat the organization as a contractor that requires a corporate charter: "This is not a technical issue Their corporate charter had been revoked for years."
The eviction notice has sparked protests from parents whose children use the program and from tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams, who are friend of Barry's. Ward 8 activist Sandra Seegars plans to lead a rally in support of Barry tonight.
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