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Council hearing on contracts to get underway

UPDATE: D.C. Council members will hear from representatives of the D.C. Housing Authority before Banneker Ventures owner Omar Karim. The hearing began at 1 p.m., but Karim has informed council members that he cannot attend until 2 p.m.

Karim will be joined by Sean and Thomas Regan of Regan Associates, a construction management firm partnered with Banneker. Meanwhile, Sinclair Skinner, who owns subcontractor Liberty Engineering and Design, will not attend. Council staffers said he has informed them that he is out of town.

ORIGINAL POST: Omar Karim, the principal of Banneker Ventures, is expected to testify Thursday afternoon at a D.C. Council hearing about the controversial construction contracts awarded to his company and others earlier this year.

Karim, a friend of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), was a no-show at last week's hearing despite being subpoenaed. Karim's attorney, A. Scott Bolden, wrote to Council member Harry Thomas Jr., explaining that his client had a scheduling conflict.

Since then, Karim has been making the rounds among council members who are now threatening to cancel the contracts - a move that could hurt him financially and significantly slow efforts of the Fenty administration to refurbish the city's parks, recreation centers and ball fields.

But council members are upset that the Fenty administration agreed to transfer millions of dollars to the DC Housing Authority, an independent agency, for the park improvements. The transfer circumvented the council's authority to approve contracts that exceed $1 million.

The council has stopped the flow of funds to the housing authority while it investigates the fund transfer and the procurement process. Thursday's hearing marks the fifth hearing on the contracts.

Attorney General Peter J. Nickles expects to re-submit contracts to the council Thursday. He said 15 projects have been stalled and hopes the council will cooperate.
-- Nikita Stewart

By Eli Reyes  |  December 10, 2009; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart  
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Before the DC Council agrees to approve any of these $1 million+ contracts, it should insist on a clear statement from Mayor Fenty or Attorney General Nickles that the failure to submit them to the Council earlier was indeed unlawful. Only after such a clear statement should the Council begin its review of them.

Posted by: DCResident22 | December 10, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

They should begin the procurement process all over again. There is no way one can determine if these contracts were fairly granted to the best most cost efficient vender out there. There is always going to be looming suspicion because of the way the Mayor attempted to go around the council to get these contracts awarded to friends and cronies.

I assure you Banneker Ventures is not the most qualified outfit in town to oversee these projects.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 10, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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