Skinner to testify again before D.C. Council
Businessman Sinclair Skinner is scheduled to reappear before the D.C. Council on Wednesday afternoon for additional testimony in the ongoing special investigation into recreation construction contracts awarded to his and another firm with ties to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).
Under threat of $1,000-a-day fines, Skinner testified April 15 and denied any wrongdoing in the contracts. However, Skinner, a friend and fraternity brother of Fenty's, acknowledged that he was not certified to perform the engineering work at parks and recreation centers for which he said his fledgling firm was paid about $900,000. "I sat for the P.E. [professional engineer] exam twice, and I didn't pass," said Skinner, 40, who has an engineering degree from Howard University.
The council has appointed defense attorney Robert P. Trout as special counsel to investigate a $100 million parks construction project. The council learned in October that the contracts had been awarded without its approval.
Banneker Ventures, a firm owned by Omar Karim, a friend of Skinner's and Fenty's, was awarded a $4.2 million contract and bonuses to manage construction of the recreational facilities. Under its agreement, Banneker hired subcontractors, including Skinner's firm, Liberty Engineering and Design.
During his previous testimony, "I don't recall" became Skinner's refrain. People watching the hearing in the council chambers began murmuring and mouthing the words, quickly turning it into the catchphrase of the day inside the John A. Wilson Building.
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said Skinner's testimony was distinguished by the number of times he could not answer Trout's questions. She described his testimony as the "most remarkable loss of memory and failure to recollect, almost to the extent where he needs medical assistance."
A superior court judge had threatened to fine Skinner $5,000 if he failed to attend the previous hearing, and $1,000 for each day he did not show.
-- Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Editors
April 28, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
Categories: City Finances , City Life , D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart | Tags: Adrian Fenty, Construction, Sinclair Skinner, Skinner, Superior court
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