Mayor Adrian M. Fenty'snomination of Ben Soto, one of his best friends, to become a member of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission's board of directors has run into a little snag.
Turns out that Soto, who owns the law firm and title company, Paramount Title & Escrow LLC, invested money in a limited liability company to help B. Doyle Mitchell Jr.,the chief executive of Industrial Bank N.A., become one of the minority owners in the Washington Nationals baseball team last year.
Council member Kwame R. Brown(D-At Large), who chairs the economic development committee, sponsored Fenty's nomination this week. He said Soto does not have a financial interest in the Nationals but "would recuse himself" from any votes on the Nats to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
That offer raised the eyebrows of council members Jim Graham(D-Ward 1), Marion Barry(D-Ward 8) and Tommy Wells(D-Ward 6).
Barry said that he may still support Soto's nomination, but that he needs more answers about his relationship with the ballclub. Wells said Soto would be removing himself from the "biggest portion" of the sports commission's duties.
"We would hope that the sports commission would be about more than baseball," Brown said.
Soto said in an interview that he would concentrate on the commission's other efforts aside from baseball -- such as developing youth sports.
"At least, you'll have one board member who can focus on things that have been neglected -- community outreach and events -- in a big way," he said.
Stay tuned for the vote on his appointment on March 6.
New Names for Taxi Panel Speaking of appointments, Fenty wants to add a few bold-faced names to the D.C. Taxicab Commission, the agency that has deliberated for years over whether to ditch the city's complex zone system for metered fares. He forwarded the names of Dale Leibach, Joseph Sternlieband George Fenderson to the D.C. Council for consideration late last week.
Leibach is a public affairs consultant and the husband of former Ward 3 council member Kathy Patterson, who gave up her seat in the fall in a losing bid to become chairman of the D.C. Council.
Sternlieb recently left the Downtown Business Improvement District Corp., which advocates for business interests in the central part of the city. He is married to Fenty's pick for D.C. Attorney General, Linda Singer.
Fenderson formerly served on the taxi commission.
Michelle Fenty's AppointmentThe Georgetown University Medical Center announced this week that the city's first lady will serve as president of the advisory council for the Capital Breast Care Center.
Michelle Cross Fenty, a lawyer specializing in global technology at the Perkins Coie law firm, will lead a 15-member council for the community-based breast health organization. Among the duties will be to assist in developing program content, raising visibility and awareness, and fundraising.
"D.C. has the highest breast cancer mortality rate in the country," she said in a statement. "The work they do to ensure early detection and quality breast health to underserved women in D.C. is critically important if we ever want to reduce that rate."
Former 'First Mother' Speaks OutFormer mayor Anthony A. Williamsmay be gone from City Hall, having accepted a job with Arlington-based Friedman, Billings, Ramsey. But the former "first mother," Virginia E. Hayes Williams, hasn't stopped making her voice heard on city issues. Virginia Williams, who campaigned heavily for Linda W. Croppagainst Fenty in the mayor's race, was in the council chambers this week to lobby against Fenty's school takeover plan. She gave council members a "non-religious, character-building" meditation and reminded them to keep the children foremost in their minds as they deliberate.
"Thanks for all you do for this city," council member Carol Schwartz(R-At Large) told her.
"I'm here for the children," the former mayor's mother said.
Accountants' Award for GandhiEven before he took office last month, Fenty announced his desire to name D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhito another five-year term. Now, Gandhi has won kudos from another group, the Association of Government Accountants.
The AGA, which has 15,000 members, might not sound like the most exciting organization, but Gandhi gladly accepted its Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award, presented at its annual conference this month.
A news release said Gandhi received the award because of his "strong leadership and dedication to bring the district's government finances out of an extreme financial crisis."
Breaking the IceOn Friday afternoon, as District residents continued to dig out from last week's winter storm, those who parked in front of the John A. Wilson Building got a little assist from the city's Department of Transportation.
A small bulldozer manned by a DDOT staffer was breaking up the snow and ice that had accumulated in the lane used by council members to park their cars.