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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.

By Jo-Ann Armao  | March 30, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Armao  | Tags:  Jo-Ann Armao  
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After a man beats his wife, what else can be exciting? Maybe disrespecting the Board of education? Or vilifying the cab drivers? Or being antagonistic with the Councel? I guess blowing off questions from reporters is all that's left.

Posted by: starclimber9 | March 30, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

This story sounds very familiar. Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was reluctant to release his schedule on many occasions.

Mayor Campbell, who was recently released from prison, apparently liked to gamble and take women other than his wife on vacations.

Posted by: cm-atl | March 31, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm more than a little confused about the sense of outrage. Yes, the city should certainly be told when the mayor takes money from, or does business with, a foreign government. But being told when the mayor takes money is one thing, demanding a day by day accounting for his time is something else again. If something is not getting done because the mayor is not around, the press is reasonable in demanding to know why the mayor is not around.

But being mayor does not put a man under house arrest. How many of us would care for an employer who wanted every moment accounted for? Would Washington Post reporters want to have to submit their schedules to their employers?

This smacks more than a little of "guilty until proven innocent." I'm interested in the mayor's schedule only when it concerns city business. Other than that, the man should be able to take a 90 minute train ride to Philly in peace.

Posted by: robin1 | April 1, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear robin1

I would agree that any public official is entitled to a little time off. However, when you take public employees along, I want to know did they use their annual leave for the time they were not in DC on duty? Did members of the Mayor's security unity (MPD police officers)accompany him. If they did IT IS MY BUSINESS and THAT OF EVERY TAX PAYING CITIZEN OF DC! Fenty surely can release that information with out divulging the his whereabouts. I wonder when he decided that that the actions of Mayor Williams he so decried when he was campaigning suddenly became ok! I guess that's what happens when one believes that the rules no longer apply!

Posted by: Informed4 | April 1, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible that he's being considered for an Ambassador post, and that he'd like to check out the destination for his family before accepting it?

Posted by: dsheon1 | April 3, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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