Why, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson hit New York City on Monday but eschewed sightseeing and Broadway shows for a whirlwind tour of Wall Street, pressing the flesh with municipal bond raters.
This is somewhat unusual, as typically city officials travel in packs when wooing the Wall Streeters. The usual delegation would include Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, the city treasurer and the council’s finance hand, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), in addition to the chairman.
But given the unusual circumstances of Mendelson’s ascension to the chairmanship — via Kwame Brown’s resignation amid federal charges — he says he opted for a solo trip during the council recess to introduce himself and allay any rater concerns about the District’s political condition.
“I thought it important that I establish relationships with the different players,” Mendelson said Tuesday. “This is who I am. There wasn’t anything more to it than that.”
There was no talk of the city’s pressing financial issues, Mendelson said. No talk of debt ceilings or tax commissions or the state of United Medical Center or the potential of Congress going over the “fiscal cliff.”
“It was just introductory,” he said. “More of a courtesy.”
Mendelson added that he was hoping to keep his meetings with the three ratings agencies low-profile — but not because he’s afraid his ex parte communications with the city’s fiscal overlords might rub his fellow top officials wrongly.
Gandhi’s spokesman, David Umansky, said Tuesday that the CFO has “no problem” with Mendelson’s solo Wall Street visit.