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As Fenty softens, Peter Nickles offers no quarter

Peter NicklesMayor Adrian Fenty might have spent the last couple of weeks pledging to change how he does business, but his most powerful aide seems not to have gotten the memo.

"I don't know if I need to be more humble; I don't know if I need to be more inclusive," said Peter Nickles Monday morning on TBD TV (formerly NewsChannel 8), in the course of noting his accomplishments as attorney general.

Host Bruce DePuyt asked Nickles if he, like his boss, would pledge to pursue a more collaborative, more inclusive style of governance if elected to a second term.

"I've got a different kind of job. I'm not a politician," Nickles said. "When it comes to protecting the citizens of the District, I've got to be persistent, I've got to be tough."

Nickles offered proof that his combative style gets results, citing his efforts to recover some of the $50 million city funds lost in the Office of Tax and Revenue embezzlement scandal, his policing of payday loan operators, and his recent settlement with alleged fraudsters targeting African-American churches.

He detailed his intervention this summer to settle a rent strike among tenants of the Marbury Plaza apartments in Southeast. After hearing about bad conditions inside the complex during a recent heat wave, Nickles said he brought both sides into his office and offered to mediate a settlement: "They said, 'Sounds great; give a week to think about it.' I said, 'Uh-uh. No week. Ten minutes.'"

Left unmentioned was his key role in the most politically fraught matters to embroil the Fenty administration -- such as his decision to settle with controversial contractor Banneker Ventures over the cancellation of parks contracts or his role in having D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray's overheight fence removed.

Nickles made it clear he'd be back for a second term if Fenty would have him. "If the mayor wants me to stay and if I can stay, I'll do it," Nickles said. "Our work is not finished."

Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 23, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District  
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"I'm not a politician," Nickles said. "When it comes to protecting the citizens of the District, I've got to be persistent, I've got to be tough."
What he's really saying is "When it comes to protecting the personal interests of Adrian Fenty, he's got to be tough..."

Posted by: starclimber9 | August 23, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Nichols needs to return to private practice. He is rude, nasty, combative, unfriendly, and the worst to deal with. Can I say: take your a** back to McLean?

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | August 23, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Well if Nickles isn't a politician - and I agree he isn't a very good one- he should be staying out of the Mayoral race rather than being one of two major Fenty spokespersons.

It seems like the two Fenty spokespersons are Nickles and Ron Moten. I am sure Nickles doesn't like being lumped with Moten but then again politics does often make strange bedfellows.

Posted by: peterdc | August 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Nickles, if you want to go on acting as Fenty's campaign manager (or, more accurately, co-manager: you the mouthpiece, and Moten the muscle), then you really should resign the post of Attorney General. It is egregiously inappropriate for you, as the legal representative of the ENTIRE District Government, to take such a visible partisan stand on behalf of one of its two highest elected officials and against the other.

It is long past time for you to give up the pretense of acting as AG for the District - its government, employees, and citizens - and confine yourself to serving, as you have throughout this Administration, as General Counsel to the Mayor.

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 23, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

There is legislation pending to make the AG post an 'elected' one. Thanks to Peter Nickles drive to put the executive over the people. We, like most states, should elect the person whom is charged with protecting the legal interests of the citizens of the District of Columbia. Even, if need be, from the malfeasance of the executive.

Peter Nickles/Adrian Fenty has made this abundantly clear.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | August 23, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"When it comes to protecting the citizens of the District, I've got to be persistent, I've got to be tough."

He can't be serious.

Can you tell us how you were persistent and tough about NCRC and AWC?

Can you tell us how you were persistent and tough on the Mayor and his avodiance of making Agency Director testify?

Can you tell us how you were perseisten and tough on behalf of D.C. citizens on the Mayor on answering FOIA request?

Can you tell us how you were perseistent and tough on behalf of D.C. citizend on getting to the bottom of the Rec's and Park contract?

Let's just start with those four questions first.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 23, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Nickles's chief purpose has been to carve out a bigger sphere of executive prerogative for the Fenty Administration, much as Dick Cheney, David Addington, et al., argued on behalf of the concept of the "unitary executive" during the Bush Administration.

He chose to live in the suburbs while making his fortune in DC and did not move here until being appointed AG. He is not a public servant but a colonial government and a black eye to the spirit of home rule.

There are lots of controversial figures in this campaign: Fenty himself, Rhee, Lanier, and Moten. Each of those have their strong supporters as well as detractors. I can't think of a single DC resident I've talked to who had a good word for Nickles. He is universally reviled and should lay low lest he inflict more damage on a surprisingly shaky Fenty campaign.

Posted by: chgobluesguy | August 24, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Fenty, Nickles, Rhee, Lanier and Moten. Thank you for serving some District residents. I can't see 4 more years of divisiveness, time for new leadership during this rough economical time. This city needs healing from all wards.

Posted by: drfields | August 25, 2010 3:24 AM | Report abuse

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