Wishes for a Happy 36th From Pals Old and Newfound

A message from the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which didn't back Adrian Fenty for mayor.
A message from the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which didn't back Adrian Fenty for mayor. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 8, 2006

Members of the Greater Washington Board of Trade greeted Adrian M. Fenty yesterday with a giant birthday card in the shape of a BlackBerry, an oversize message that the business community wants to embrace the incoming mayor's administration.

The message on the screen of the BlackBerry on the 3-foot-by-4-foot poster read: "HPPY BTHDY MR MAYR-ELCT."

"Now, everyone in the whole world will be able to contact the mayor of the District of Columbia," Fenty said to laughter at the group's annual meeting, at the Hilton Washington. Fenty celebrated his 36th birthday Wednesday.

The BlackBerry, which Fenty always carries, has become a symbol of his leadership style: fast and on-the-go.

Fenty won every precinct in the Sept. 12 primary despite endorsements of D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, his main opponent, by the political arms of the Board of Trade and the DC Chamber of Commerce.

"We were in support of Linda Cropp. We were not anti-Fenty," said James C. Dinegar, president and chief executive of the Board of Trade.

"That's in the past," said Samuel A. Schreiber, the organization's chairman. "From the night of the election to the present, we have had a good relationship."

On the night of the primary, former foes left Cropp's party to congratulate Fenty.

Fenty's birthday week has become another opportunity for former critics to show their support. On Wednesday, hundreds of people crowded St. Coletta Special Education Public Charter School on Independence Avenue in Southeast Washington, where Fenty threw his birthday party.

Traffic was locked on Independence Avenue as partygoers looked for parking spaces.

The school setting was simple. Guests mingled in meeting rooms and a gymnasium. Fenty spoke from a stage set up in a main hall.

But the event was elaborate, with two R&B bands, a mariachi band and a lion dance performance by the Wong Chinese Boxing Association.

Fenty said yesterday that one of his campaign themes was to bring the city together, and that includes meshing business interests with the needs of residents. "The approach we took from Day One of the campaign was that we would not have a city that's going to [favor] one over the other."

He said he holds no grudge against the Board of Trade. He sat next to Schreiber on the dais, which included D.C. Council Chairman-elect Vincent C. Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "You have to move on after the election," Fenty said.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company