D.C. council members ask judge to block payment to Banneker Ventures
Three D.C. council members are asking Superior Court Associate Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. to reject a settlement agreement struck between Attorney General Peter J. Nickles and Banneker Ventures, a firm whose contract to manage recreation construction is at the center of a special council probe.
A joint motion for a consent judgment was filed Wednesday, opening the door for Banneker to be paid about $600,000. But council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-WArd 5) sent the judge a letter Friday, explaining the investigation and pending legislation that would prevent such agreements from being made during an investigation and after disapproval.
The council voted unanimously last year to terminate Banneker's contract. The legislation that would prevent payments from being made has its final consideration Nov. 23.
The council members said in the letter than Nickles "is using the consent judgment to circumvent these legislative acts."
A. Scott Bolden, attorney for Banneker owner Omar Karim, said the council is "overreaching" its authority in writing to the judge.
"It's highly improper and highly irregular," Bolden said.
Nickles said the council needed to file a motion, not a letter. He said he told the council that Banneker had sued the city, which has to respond in some way.
"At some point, the city has a responsibility to a company that has done work for it," he said.
Thomas said, "The judge shouldn't have all the facts to come to an intelligent decision?"
Thomas and Nickles are currently at odds. Nickles obtained a court ruling that Thomas turn over documents about his nonprofit "Team Thomas." Nickles is waiting for those documents, which Thomas said he will deliver within the judge's three-week deadline.
| November 19, 2010; 4:35 PM ET
Categories: D.C. Council, Nikita Stewart
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