Adrian M. Fenty used to be the go-to guy for quotes, back when he was just a lowly council member. Fenty (D), always easy to reach on his trusted Blackberry, could be counted on by reporters to rip Mayor Williams with a colorful quip or weigh in on subjects that had nothing to do with Ward 4, where he had been elected. Reporters fondly recall passing the phone around so Fenty could give his two cents on every story being prepared for the next day.
That has changed since he's become mayor. For one thing, he doesn't pick up his phone when reporters call the old number. For two, he doesn't say much of substance when he's cut off after one of his tightly scripted news conferences. But the worst of all scenarios for reporters is the dreaded mayoral statement, which is what Fenty falls back on whenever the subject is particularly dicey or he is caught off-guard with a question. As in, "My office will get you a statement."
When the statement comes, which is usually fairly late in the evening, sometimes after deadline, it is not just vanilla but more often than not fails to answer the question that is asked. So we here at D.C. Wire are starting a new feature in which we bring you the best of the mayor's non-statement statements.
We start with the controversial D.C. Voting Rights bill that now seems to be in jeopardy. Fenty was on a conference call with Hill leaders yesterday to figure out what the next step in strategy would be for getting the bill through the House.
So we asked his spokeswoman the following question: What does the mayor think the next step should be for the bill in the House, now that Steny Hoyer has pulled it from the floor indefinitely?
The response we received:
"The Mayor is currently in the process of talking with hill leaders and other key stakeholders to determine the best course of action going forward."
We followed up with a few more questions -- Fenty was on a conference call today with Norton and Gray... What was discussed? Did the mayor put forward a strategy to help get this bill moving again? Does the mayor fear that the bill is dead? If not, why not?-- but did not hear anything else from the mayor's office.
Bonus Statement Watch:
On Feb. 25, CFO Natwar Gandhi told D.C. Council members that the city would take in $100 million less revenue than planned in fiscal 2010 because of losses on appeals from property owners who successfully petition for reductions on their assessments. Some council members suggested that the city's Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals wasn't doing its job adequately. Fenty's appointment for chair of that board, Towanda Paul-Bryant, has been criticized by a former board member who resigned.
We asked the mayor's office: Why does Fenty support her as interim chair and is he nominating her for full time chair and why?
The response: "The Fenty Administration will ensure that the budget is balanced, and is committed to working with the Council and CFO to fix any systemic issues that will improve revenue collection going forward."