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City pays Banneker $2.5 million despite council's red light

The D.C. Council's sixth hearing on the controversial construction contracts that went to firms with political and personal ties to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) started with more intrigue Friday.

D.C. Council members Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) revealed that the D.C. Housing Authority paid Banneker Ventures, owned by Fenty friend and fraternity brother Omar Karim, $2.5 million on Christmas Eve, despite the council's investigation and questions about invoices. The council voted unanimously last month to terminate the $4-million-plus contract with Banneker to manage the construction of a dozen parks, recreation centers and ballfields.

Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) said he looked forward to the housing authority's explanation of the payment, which "seemed to be done in the dark of night and in the shadows."

Adrienne Todman, acting executive director of the D.C. Housing Authority, told council members that the Christmas Eve payment went to Banneker Ventures and 12 subcontractors for work performed from September to Nov. 30. She said the action was taken to move forward and to create a sense of fairness.

Council members are also expecting to hear from Sinclair Skinner, a Fenty friend and former paid campaign staffer for the mayor. He owns Liberty Engineering & Design, a primary subcontractor of Banneker.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  January 8, 2010; 11:06 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Nikita Stewart  
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Comments

"Adrienne Todman, acting executive director of the D.C. Housing Authority, told council members that the Christmas Eve payment went to Banneker Ventures and 12 subcontractors for work performed from September to Nov. 30. She said the action was taken to move forward and to create a sense of fairness."

Let me translate that for the council. Ms. Todman said FU!

Wow....just wow!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | January 8, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

From the bare facts in this small piece, it appears to me that:

The Council did what it could to stop the bleeding - that is, terminate the contracts.

The Mayor (and cronies) then did what he could to keep the gravy train flowing - that is, create ginormous payments for work supposedly performed before the termination.

Serve and return. Looks like the ball is back in the Council's court... but I'm not sure that it has power to void any of the payments already made.

And as for the power to investigate, that seems to be largely a paper tiger as concerns the current Administration. Emperor Adrian merely thumbs his nose (or perhaps you may wish to choose another body part...) at the Council's investigations. And I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for cooperation or worthwhile information from Homeboy Skinner.

To get at the real truth, I think we need to bring in bigger guns. What would it take to get the federal law enforcement authorities involved in this? If they can take the time to look into Ted Loza's $1500, surely these hundreds of millions ought to pique their interest.

Posted by: nan_lynn | January 8, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Another example of why we need an independent elected attorney general.

Peter Nickles silence is sickening.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | January 8, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I watched the entire hearing today. While the Christmas eve check to Banneker and Skinner's no show is fishy and plain wrong, I was very dismayed at the way the council questioned the witnesses and conducted themselves.

Cheh, Barry, the Browns and Thomas were more interested in making speeches than getting answers. Many times they were rude and arrogant--not allowing the witnesses to provide more than yes and no answers, Very disappointing.

The whole situation makes one question the entire DC government
Bravo to Mr Jannaone for calling Michael Brown "irresponsible" for throwing out unsubstantiated charges.

Posted by: peterknockstead | January 8, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

With oversight always being hindsight, it is obvious that they confirmed a complete idiot in Santos. With this latest action, it should be obvious that Todman should be the next not to be confirmed.

Posted by: candycane1 | January 10, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Here, here candycane1! It's time for Todman to be Hartsocked!!!

Posted by: bob_dylan_rocks | January 10, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The Council shoud not go for this clear sham. The Mayor's office paid this invoice so that there would not be a lawsuit. The Council and the citizens of the District should want a lawsuit so that all of these crooks will have to testify in court under oath and all of the mess and corruption will be exposed. The Council should sue for the money to be returned and force a lawsuit. Force these people into court.

Posted by: diahhna | January 10, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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