Once a Mayor Fenty backer, now Bill Slover's a major problem in reelection bid

By Mike DeBonis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 11, 2010; 10:33 AM

Bill Slover is a successful businessman, a family man and active in his community. And he's a major problem for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in his fight for reelection.

That's because Slover is at the center of questions about Fenty's parks contracting -- the $100 million in proposed city spending that's fueled accusations of malfeasance that Fenty's foes are flinging freely on the campaign trail.

"What happened with these contracts is one of the worst examples of cronyism I have ever seen in the District of Columbia," council chairman and Fenty's chief rival, Vincent C. Gray (D), said, latching onto the fact that the mayor's fraternity brothers, Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner, profited from the parks work.

Gray made that claim last week at a mayoral debate, hosted by several Ward 3 community groups, where Fenty was sharply questioned by moderator Davis Kennedy, publisher of the Current community newspapers.

The mayor answered in the same way that he has since the story broke: by seizing on the fact that the contracts were awarded by a subsidiary of the D.C. Housing Authority, which Fenty does not directly control.

"The Housing Authority is an independent branch of government," he explained, with "independent procurement processes that's separate from the mayor."

But what happened to Slover stands in opposition to that claim.

Slover was a Fenty supporter in 2006, and he donated to Fenty's reelection campaign soon after it started in late 2008. Slover, a 43-year-old real-estate investor, became chairman of the Housing Authority board last year.

By the time Slover arrived, the parks contracting process was already connected to the mayor. Of the five panel members who selected Karim's Banneker Ventures, three worked for Fenty -- one, Jacquelyn Glover, was a project manager working for the deputy mayor for economic development; two others were Parks and Recreation Department employees.

So when the deal came to his attention -- a contract solicited through a process that didn't involve bids, included an unusually high fee arrangement for Banneker and kept most control in the mayor's office -- Slover grew uncomfortable. He abstained from voting.

In November, after the arrangement was publicized and Slover learned more details about the parks work, he moved to end the authority's involvement in the contract and send it back to the mayor's office.

Some DCHA board members with ties to Fenty, including Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos, objected, and the proposal was tabled. The following week, Slover says, he spoke to City Administrator Neil O. Albert and said he would continue pursuing the resolution. Four hours later, he received a call from Fenty's boards-and-commissions director telling him he'd been removed as chair.

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