Adrian Fenty's fraternity brother: 'Vincent Gray should resign'

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vincent Gray should resign. His involvement in nepotism and financial mismanagement is inexcusable and an embarrassment to the District of Columbia. And his administration duped voters with a plan to bully Adrian Fenty from office in what I believe was a corrupt campaign that violated election law.

For the past 18 months, Mayor Gray pushed for the Trout report. A team led by lawyer Robert Trout probed allegations that our former mayor steered contracts to me and another construction management company in an effort to dodge City Council approval and line the pockets of his friends. During the 2010 mayoral race, Gray, then chairman of the City Council, built a campaign on these charges that divided the city, misled voters and characterized Mayor Fenty as corrupt. He routinely accused Adrian of "having a special jobs program for his frat brothers." And he claimed that I was Adrian's "hand-picked choice for multi-million dollar engineering and construction contracts to fix city parks" while his council's investigation was still being conducted.

I don't deny it - I am proud to be Adrian's fraternity brother. I won't sugarcoat it - the Trout report calls for further investigation of my business. I am confident that this investigation will clear my name. However, the exhaustive report, issued last Monday, unequivocally exonerates my friend. Gray's allegations were false, but did accomplish what I believe was its sole purpose: to discredit Adrian and take over his office.

This is inexcusable.

Mayor Gray is not who he claimed to be on the campaign trail. He said he was a man of integrity who would end cronyism, but he has doled out $100,000 jobs to the children of high-ranking members of his administration. He has hired campaign staff members for city jobs at exorbitant wages that ignore lawful salary limits. With money from a city facing a budget crisis, he leased a car that cost almost $2,000 a month. And as the District's shifting demographics and struggling school system cloud its future, his leadership has made Washington a laughingstock.

Now, with Congress investigating Sulaimon Brown's claims that he was paid and promised a city job to impugn Adrian during the 2010 mayoral race, D.C. must brace for what could be the greatest political embarrassment since Mayor Barry's arrest in a 1990 drug sting. A cadre of federal investigators will descend on Washington as the GOP-controlled House begins a campaign to disenfranchise the District under a control board. As Republicans take over our Democratic city, already slim hopes of home rule will prove even more elusive, and last year's bitter debate over Michelle Rhee's personality will seem like a picnic.

Is this the "One City" we were promised?

This is not what Gray envisioned for Washington when he took office. This is not what any sane mayor would want. Gray, whose chief of staff has already resigned, must step down. Other council members should consider the same: Harry Thomas, accused of improper fundraising for his nonprofit; Kwame Brown, another SUV enthusiast who billed the city $1,900 per month for a Lincoln Navigator; and Jim Graham, whose chief of staff pleaded guilty to making false statements and accepting an illegal gratuity. They should save us the embarrassment of having federal investigators haul away our top-ranking city officials in handcuffs.

After all, we've been there and done that.

outlook@washpost.com

Sinclair Skinner, a former Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, is an engineer, businessman and activist.

Sinclair Skinner, a former Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, is an engineer, businessman and activist. Frederick Butler, his press representative, contributed to this article.


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