The mayor in the water: a reporter's view from Wilson Aquatics Center
Former New York Times reporter Ed Cowan shared a recent run-in with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) with readers of his e-mail alerts that he calls "Reports to DC Voters, a pro bono, intermittent series of news items and commentaries."
Check out what happened when Cowan went to the Wilson Aquatics Center. He titled it, "Just Another Swimmer."
When Mayor Adrian Fenty stepped out onto the pool deck at the Wilson Aquatics Center at midday Wednesday, he wore swim trunks and carried a bulky, blue duffel bag 36 or 40 inches long.
The assistant manager of the pool, Preston Graham, had just told me that I could not leave my small, canvas bag on the pool deck. He said the Health Department had inspected Wilson earlier in the week and decreed that only "mesh bags" could be brought to the deck. (Don't ask me why.)
"What about him?" I said to Graham, pointing at the mayor.
With minimal delay, Graham approached Fenty and told him that he could not drop his blue bag on the deck.
The mayor whirled and asked for an explanation. Graham told him what he told me, that bags (except mesh) had to be stowed in one's locker. Fenty's eyebrows shot up, and he asked more questions. Visibly and audibly, he was irritated.
"33,000 people work for me," he said, his voice trailing off. The rest sounded something like "I can't control what all of them do."
Patiently, Graham, who looked to be a little younger than the 39-year-old mayor, explained again that the bag had to be removed from the deck. Still glowering, Fenty moved it back to a corner near a door. Later, with Fenty still in the water, it was gone. Graham told me that Fenty had put it in his locker.
Fenty, wearing goggles and carrying flippers, jumped into one of two lanes reserved for Masters program swimmers -- people who swim seriously several times a week for speed and endurance.
There were five other swimmers in the lane. A coach on the deck was instructing and timing them.
When I finished my swim, I asked the coach if the mayor was "fast enough for your group." He replied, "He's okay. He needs to work more on his [arm] pull." He added that Fenty was "a terrific runner."
-- Nikita Stewart
Christopher Dean Hopkins
January 28, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories: Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart
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