Voices of Power: Adrian M. Fenty

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 20, 2009; 8:04 AM

On his desk sits an array of photos that speak loudly to the young mayor's high flying life these days. There is one of him with Pope Benedict, and another of him rubbing elbows with hip hop artist Jay-Z during the Inauguration festivities. And then there is the eye-popping shot with singer Rihanna who, come to find out, is a relative and shares his last name.

Indeed, as mayor of the nation's capital, Adrian Fenty finds himself in the thick of the action, as Congress seems poised to finally give D.C. voting rights, and Michelle Obama signals that Washington as a community is her new home, and shines her starpower on the city's struggling schools and its homeless.

Fenty, 38, sat down with us for a wide-ranging interview this week, talking about President Obama's impact on his diverse city, why he has bucked his party to support school vouchers, the scandals that have cost the city millions, and his much criticized trips to Dubai and China, paid for by those countries.

He revealed for the first time that he can live with the votings rights bill currently before congress even though Republicans have attached an amendment to it that would strip the city of much of its power to regulate firearms. The father of three also vowed to send his twin boys to public school this fall - although he wouldnt say which one they would attend.

Watch and read the entire interview on

Ms. Romano: The congressional bill that would give D.C. voting rights is forcing you to choose between gun controls and voting rights. What's it going to be?

Mayor Fenty: It's a tough call. ...Hopefully, it will be resolved ... but if we had to make that call on a close margin, I do believe a majority of District residents say, "Give us the vote. Give us the vote, and we hate this gun law, but we'll find a way to get rid of that, if necessary." We think that having the vote in the House of Representatives does give you more power to do things--

Romano: How do you convince Congress that D.C. is ready to be autonomous on the heels of two scandals in city government?

Fenty : What bothers people about government is when there is a problem, the government either becomes defensive or tries to sweep it under the rug. I think Congress appreciates that we've dealt with it in a very straightforward way.

Romano: Can you clarify your position on vouchers?

Fenty : We believe that the kids in the system deserve every opportunity to stay in the make sure that the kids in the system don't have the money pulled from--with under them.

Romano: What's your take on the flack you're getting for these overseas trips?

Fenty: The fact of the matter is that before we took this trip, we, you know, gave all the information to our attorneys, and our attorneys ran it under the microscope of the law, and it was approved.

Romano: What did you get out of the trip?

Fenty: Well, I had a great time.

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