As you head in to the voting booth today, you’ll want to select a candidate who will be a good steward of your tax dollars. Or if you’re smart and politically well-connected, you’ll want a candidate who will be a poor steward of other people’s tax dollars, so you can exploit District government for fun and profit. Either way, welcome to TBD’s 2010 D.C. Mayoral Election Voter’s Guide to Cronyism. Here, in alphabetic order, are the people and things you should know about in determining which mayoral candidate is less beholden to special interests.
Bereano, Bruce — Maryland lobbyist and long-time friend and fraternity brother of Vince Gray’s. Bereano, for years the top lobbyist in Annapolis, was convicted of mail fraud in 1994. Gray insists Bereano has “never asked for him anything.” Even if he did, Gray said he would turn him down. Still, while the bulk of his work is in Annapolis, Bereano has a few clients in the District. And Adrian Fenty’s campaign says they weren’t lobbying the executive branch. Bereano’s office also gave $2,000 to Gray’s campaign. For more, see Michael Grass’ post over at the Washington City Paper.
Bailey, Emmanuel — Fifty-one percent holder of the controversial $38 million D.C. Lottery contract with Intralot, a Greek gambling conglomerate. Bailey's company, Veterans Services Corp., was added to the deal after Intralot had been awarded the deal. This allowed VSC to bypass a vetting process. Bailey's mother, Barbara, worked for the Department of Human Services under Gray during the early 1990s. Previously worked at Fannie Mae and owned a nightclub in Montgomery County. For more, see Jeffrey Anderson in the Washington Times. Bailey also has a LinkedIn.
Fence, The — A six-foot-high aluminum fence surrounding the property of Vincent Carlos Gray in Hillcrest. Under D.C. law, fences are only allowed to exceed 42 inches with the express approval of the mayor. The contractor who installed the fence was also not licensed to work in the District. Gray eventually took the fence down this summer after paying thousands in fines. Gray is the only person who has paid fines for having a too-tall fence since Fenty took office. For more, see, again, Jeffrey Anderson in the Times, as well as Ann Marimow in The Washingon Post.
Karim, Omar — Fenty fraternity brother, owner of Banneker Ventures, the main contractor on the Parks contracts. Karim wasn't afraid of using his ties to the mayor to get in with city developers. See Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzmann in the Post.
Lottery Contract, The — If you can fully explain the lottery contract, The Facts Machine will buy you a cookie. (TBD doesn't pay The Facts Machine enough for a full lunch.) The contract is worth $38 million, and it was awarded to a Greek gambling company, Intralot, with Veterans Service Corp. as a local partner. VSC, run by Emmanuel Bailey, has ties to Vince Gray. Before that contract was approved, Intralot tried to get one by partnering with a local group with ties to Fenty. Gray never scheduled a hearing for that contract, and he recused himself from the December vote in which the council finally approved the pact. The District's inspector general is investigating the whole mess. Again, Mr. Anderson has a definitive report.
Moten, Ron — The mayor's most enthusiastic supporter and founder of Peaceoholics, Moten is the most commonly identified crony of the election, and he says it makes his grandmother cry. He frequently throws corruption allegations back at the Gray campaign. See Tim Craig in the Post.
Nickles, Peter — Let's get this straight. Nickles is not a crony. Dude is too well qualified to be a crony. He is something of a jerk (he called The Facts Machine an intern, which we have not been FOR A FULL TWO MONTHS). He might be, as the Gray campaign alleges, is "the chief enabler of [the mayor's] cronyism."
Parks Contracts, The — This one is almost as complicated as the lottery contract. Fenty managed to steer control of $82 million in contracts to firms linked to his fraternity brother. (Key words there are "control of." The Gray campaign at times has made it seem like he handed Karim and Skinner an $82 million check, but they've been more accurate lately.) He did this by handing out the parks and recreation contracts through the D.C. Housing Authority, which even Nickles has conceded was illegal. Two former Fenty cabinet members — Clark Ray and Bill Slover — have said they were fired because they refused to participate in the scheme. Fancy lawyer Robert Trout is now investigating this kerfuffle. See Nikita Stewart in the Post.
Peaceholics — A non-profit founded by Moten and his friend Jauhar Abraham that intervenes to resolves beefs between youth gangs in the District. Politicians (including Gray) have praised their work in the past, but a massive increase in contracts under Fenty, as well as Moten's political activism, have made them a recent target. Many of the contracts the group has received in recent years have been no-bid, and the performance metrics leave quite a bit to be desired. See Anderson in the City Paper, and Rend Smith and Jason Cherkis in the City Paper.
Skinner, Sinclair — Similar to Karim, Omar. Was a Fenty fraternity brother, and owner of Liberty Ventures, a subcontractor on the parks contracts. He previously owned a pair of failed dry-cleaning businesses. See, again, Stewart and Schwartzmann in the Post.
Smith, William C. — A long-time friend of Gray's and a major city developer. A company of his drew up plans for a renovation on Gray's house while another one of his companies had business pending before the city council. Gray never went through with the renovation. Basically, you should just read all of Jeffrey Anderson's articles.