Mayor Fenty doesn't like to wait. His State of the District address was titled "Moving Forward Faster." Council members regularly complain that he avoids the legislative process when he can if it means getting his initiatives going. Some blame his frenetic pace for the meltdown of the summer youth jobs program.
So you can imagine Fenty's chagrin when he rushed out of the John A. Wilson Building's side door last evening around 7 p.m. and headed toward the back parking lot to his SmartCar--only to be stopped by a police officer. Seems the area had been cordoned off because of a suspicious brown box resting on a concrete ledge near the back door.
"I need to get to my car," the mayor said, moving forward. Not so fast, said the officer, stepping in front of him. A crowd of onlookers, including your D.C. Wire correspondent who had been trying to get in the back door, were milling about.
"We cleared it with the protective services guy upstairs," Carrie Brooks, Fenty's Chief of Staff, informed the officer.
No dice. "I was told not to let anyone back here," the officer said. The mayor told him to call his boss. The guy didn't budge. "Okay, I'm going to get Lanier on the phone," Fenty said, pulling out his Blackberry and dialing Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.
Alas, the protective services officer did not report to Lanier. He's in a separate unit. Fenty was looking increasingly agitated. He was late for a fundraiser. Brooks got on her phone, as another officer pointed out the package to Fenty. Other aides stood around uncomfortably.
"Has anyone looked inside the box?" Fenty asked.
"Uh, no, sir, we're waiting for the [bomb-sniffing] dogs to come," the officer replied.
Finally, another car, driven by a protective services official, was procured for the mayor, who was on his way, sans SmartCar.
So, what was in the package? Office supplies, says a source. Security officials concluded that the box, which was near the Wilson Building loading dock, was probably left behind by a worker who forgot it was there.
As for the mayor, an aide returned the SmartCar back to him last night, and he drove it in this morning.