Where Is the Mayor?
By Jo-Ann Armao
I took the day off Friday and traveled to Ithaca, N.Y., where I visited my sisters and mother, went to some wineries and attended a (I know it’s strange) memorial service for my sister’s cat. Given my complete lack of compunction about sharing that information with the blogosphere, I am having an awfully hard time understanding why D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is being so unnecessarily secretive about his comings and goings.
The mayor has the local press up in arms because of his adamant refusal to say where he was on Friday. A spokesperson refused to say and, it appears, even the chairman of the D.C. Council -- the city’s second-highest-ranking elected official -- wasn’t to be trusted with this information. Attorney General Peter Nickles told City Paper’s Loose Lips that the uproar is “a bunch of baloney” and the mayor is entitled to his private life.
No doubt Nickles is correct that the hard-working mayor deserves vacation with his family. But, actually, it is Fenty who must bear most of the responsibility for this controversy. After all, he is the one who has been less than forthcoming with the public about when he’s on the city clock and when he’s off.
His trip last year to China for the summer Olympics was first said to be a private vacation. But, it turned out, government entities in China helped pay the tab because, it was belatedly revealed, he did some city business. Indeed, even his trip in February to Dubai didn’t get a rise from the press until it was disclosed that city business was involved and the United Arab Emirates paid $25,000 for the junket. Fenty never did answer the question of why he kept that trip secret until his return.
Instead, Fenty has adopted a rather defiant attitude, saying that he’s under no legal obligation to reveal his travels. So there, he tells the press. What he is missing is that he will end up only hurting himself. I doubt there are too many people who would be upset about, for example, Fenty's recent trip to Philadelphia to watch the NCAA tournament. But, by being so secretive, it makes it appear that he has something to hide. And every time the public learns he’s been less than forthcoming about his “private” time, it makes them wonder if he’s not leveling with them on other -- more vital -- issues.
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