The D.C. Council's sixth hearing on the controversial construction contracts that went to firms with political and personal ties to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) started with more intrigue Friday.
D.C. Council members Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) revealed that the D.C. Housing Authority paid Banneker Ventures, owned by Fenty friend and fraternity brother Omar Karim, $2.5 million on Christmas Eve, despite the council's investigation and questions about invoices. The council voted unanimously last month to terminate the $4-million-plus contract with Banneker to manage the construction of a dozen parks, recreation centers and ballfields.
Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) said he looked forward to the housing authority's explanation of the payment, which "seemed to be done in the dark of night and in the shadows."
Adrienne Todman, acting executive director of the D.C. Housing Authority, told council members that the Christmas Eve payment went to Banneker Ventures and 12 subcontractors for work performed from September to Nov. 30. She said the action was taken to move forward and to create a sense of fairness.
Council members are also expecting to hear from Sinclair Skinner, a Fenty friend and former paid campaign staffer for the mayor. He owns Liberty Engineering & Design, a primary subcontractor of Banneker.
-- Nikita Stewart