October 26, 2009

Parks Controversy Hits Home

Gage-Eckington School

The former Gage-Eckington School, which has just been torn down to make way for the new neighborhood park, is caught-up in a citywide controversy over Mayor Fenty’s funding for numerous park projects. City law requires that the Council approve all contracts over $1 million, but the mayor has funneled the $1.7-million park renovation contract through the D.C. Housing Authority, which, as a quasi-independent government agency, considered itself exempt from the requirement.

The Housing Authority is responsible for public housing, Section 8 vouchers, and HOPE VI projects, so the mayor’s choice to spend park money through the Authority should raise eyebrows.

Now, after the controversy already erupted, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles has determined that the Housing Authority, too, must submit its million-dollar contracts to the Council for approval. Nickles’s decision is based on a 1996 legal opinion by the city’s corporation counsel, the predecessor to the Attorney General’s office.

How does the LeDroit Park project fit into this? The Examiner reports that the park is one of the unapproved contracts awarded to Banneker Ventures LLC:

The Housing Authority recently awarded more than $72 million in contracts to a pair of companies with ties to Mayor Adrian Fenty, none of which were ever seen by the council.

Further complicating the matter is the mayor’s personal ties to Banneker Ventures, the company constructing the new park and several other parks:

Banneker Ventures LLC is the construction manager for at least a dozen parks and recreation contracts, 10 of which exceed $1 million. Banneker has ties to Fenty friend and former fraternity brother Sinclair Skinner.

Even in the event that the contracts were competitively bid and awarded without undue influence, the Council would be right to examine the contracts since they certainly look suspicious. Whether the Council will reject the LeDroit contract—which is well underway—is unclear, but what is clear is that the mayor skirted the law to get this project through.

Categories: Good Goverment, Park at LeDroit
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8 Replies

  1. This mayor is in this job to make himeself the richest man in DC. He is stealing from the taxpayers using fronts such as (Sinclair Skinner Inc.) and Bannaker Ventures. Skinner is nothing but a dirty collector for Fenty. These guys are up to their ears in corruption. Sheila Dixon’s conviction for stealing from needy kids in Baltimore is Child’s Play when one looks at what Feny and Skinner are doing in DC. God help the nation’s Capital.

    jerry hunter - December 2, 2009 @ 8:29 pm
  2. […] reported that the our forthcoming park is back on track, despite the contracting fracas that erupted in […]

    A New Park This Fall || Left for LeDroit - January 8, 2010 @ 9:43 pm
  3. […] the District’s tax code and rethink how the city does business.  He brought up the recent park construction fracas as a prime example of […]

    Ward One Recap || Left for LeDroit - June 25, 2010 @ 7:19 am
  4. […] half-true and a lie. This current contract is being submitted to the Council for passive approval, which is required of city contracts over $1 million.  If the Council does not act on it within a certain period of time, the contract is approved.  […]

    Park Quid Pro Quo || Left for LeDroit - July 27, 2010 @ 8:52 pm
  5. […] when we thought construction on the park on the site of the old Gage-Eckington School would begin, along came the parks scandal last October. Then in March, Harry Thomas Jr. (D – Ward 5) tried to prevent the mayor from […]

  6. […] that Howard deal to a halt and WMATA offered the lots again in 2007.  Banneker Ventures LLC, infamous for its park contracts, won that round and aimed to lease the land for redevelopment into apartments and retail […]

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