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Just Showing Up

Mayor Fenty and his team are missing important events, sending mixed signals to the city they hope to keep governing.

It’s proving to be a long, hot, and truly weird summer for DC mayor Adrian Fenty and his administration. The mayor is facing a tough reelection challenge from DC Council chairman Vincent Gray, who has taken aim at key Fenty officials such as schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and DC attorney general Peter Nickles. In some cases, those attacks have prompted vigorous defenses of the Fenty record. Rhee has declared that if Fenty goes, she’s out, too. But in other cases, Fenty officials have been strangely absent from the debate.

It all started June 28, when Fenty backed out of an education debate organized by the group Young Education Professionals, saying he “couldn’t make it work.” Then last week, Nickles was on vacation during hearings on whether the Fenty administration had properly implemented a minimum-wage law passed four years ago and whether the city should have paid $550,000 on canceled parks-and-recreation contracts to a firm with ties to the mayor.

It’s summer. People go on trips. And during a big political year, people sometimes schedule hearings during those trips to make their opponents look bad. That said, could Nickles have postponed the trip once it became clear there’d be questions about the payments to Banneker Ventures? Could he have avoided commenting on the state of the water to a gossip columnist? Probably. Given the mayor’s problems in his home neighborhood, Fenty and his team should know the simple lesson that the greater part of success is simply showing up.

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