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From the Publisher's Desk...

THE MAYOR IS NOT WATCHING THE STORE

Back in the spring, Gary Imhoff, editor of the twice-weekly, electronic TheMail, posed the following question:

“How much time does Mayor Fenty spend on the job? . . . I mean when he is in town, how many days a week does he spend away from the Wilson Building and off the official schedule? How many hours during the business day, when he does show up at the Wilson Building, does he spend jogging, bicycle riding, playing basketball, practicing for marathons and triathlons, and playing other sports, as opposed to working? . . . As a candidate, Fenty worked 24/7; as a mayor, he’s part time. When will the press bust him for it?”

We think this is an excellent question, made even more urgent in recent weeks by what seems to be important city programs in jeopardy of spinning out of control. The latest horror just came to light during the week we were preparing for press: The revelation that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has threatened to cut off all federal funding for AIDS/HIV housing and other assistance because of a total breakdown in the city’s monitoring of many of the contractors who provide those services. Simply put, the city’s bureaucracy over which the mayor is the boss has been asleep at the switch.

This is untenable — a potential disaster that will result in great hardship for persons who are most vulnerable thanks to sheer bureaucratic incompetence at best or venal indifference at worst. Who are these contractors? Who are the DC government employees that have brought matters to such a state?

If the mayor was truly running a tight ship we doubt things would have deteriorated within this one program so badly. He’s the CEO of the two-plus billion dollar enterprise known as the Government of the District of Columbia. It’s high time he started acting like a CEO. Mr. Mayor, we don’t want to hear excuses: The buck stops with you, plain and simple.

One has to wonder, what’s the deal with him being all over everywhere with his bike team buddies, often during the work week, and utilizing city resources to smooth the way for him in the process. The most recent outrageous example was the story that broke recently on WTOP thanks to Mark Segraves’ thorough reporting, about how the mayor arranged for certain roads to be closed during weekdays for him and his biking buds to zoom along unencumbered by actual cars — a clear violation of the law that prohibits such activity during the week — and escorted by DC police following in squad cars that should be used only in actual police work. Did the mayor reimburse the police department for the cost of the gas used and for other costs related to making his bike riding convenient?

In closing, we think what Gary Imhoff wrote his November 8th issue of TheMail to be right on point: “What . . . hasn’t been covered [by the press] so far is the biggest problem with the mayor’s sports obsession, his neglecting his job to spend hours every day exercising. If a president golfs one day a week on the weekends, the press writes that the president is goofing off and isn’t serious about his job. Yet the mayor’s bicycle club rides were almost all during the middle of the work day during the work week, and the mayor spends hours during nearly every work day with his sports buddies.

When will the press bust him for it?” Maybe this commentary here will start the ball rolling.