Community Orgs, Unions Crash Fenty’s Fundraiser

rnMen in crisp suits and gleaming shoes stood uncomfortably on the red-carpeted sidewalk outside U Street’s Local restaurant last night as demonstrators swirled past them chanting and waving signs accusing DC mayor Adrian Fenty of selling out to the campaign contributors trying to push through to the fundraiser inside. rnrn”Fenty’s trying to turn this city back into a plantation,” AFSCME Council 20 Executive Director George Johnson told Union City as the crowd of union, community and housing activists surged past, chanting “Fired all the workers and gave away the land, he’s a mayor the people can’t stand!” Added Johnson, “For the first time, all the unions are standing together. We’re not going to stand for it: the people will rise up.” rnrnGusts of wind tugged at the banners and signs but the chants – “Public property’s not for sale, Adrian Fenty is for sale!” – grew louder as the crowd spilled out into U street, where watchful police stood by but did not interfere. A chorus of boos greeted the Mayor when he showed up and he quickly disappeared into the more welcoming crowd inside. – story/photo by Chris Garlock, orgionally printed in Union Cities.rnrnThe protest was organized by Empower DC’s People’s Property Campaign. Empower DC’s grassroots membership based is calling for an end to the sale or give-away of public properties, like DC Public Schools, to politically-connected developers. Under the Fenty Administration, the Deputy Mayor’s Office, led by Neil Albert, has been nothing short of a real estate office. The Administration admits to over 100 development projects in its portfolio involving public land. rnrnAmong these at-risk public properties are DC Public Schools closed by the Mayor last year. Despite promises that he would not sell any of the schools, Requests for Proposals for 11 schools have been issued to developers. Empower DC’s members are opposed to the sale of any DC public schools. Several previously closed historic schools have been converted into high cost “luxury” condos for the rich.rnrnTo view footage of the picket check out:rnrnhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2009/03/12/VI2009031203700.html rnrnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzrYRd0nRogrnrnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWVpBDIT9Fg rnrnhttp://carlosqc.blogspot.com/2009/03/photos-and-videos-protest-adrian-fentys.htmrnrnThe People’s Property Campaign has identified several Fenty-contributors who have received and are poised to receive public land at far below market rate. The real estate and development industries accounted for almost half of the Mayor’s already $2 million fundraising haul. Many developers have skirted the $2,000 limit on contributions by organizing several company members, or several family members, to give the maximum allowed amount. Still, contributions from these developers are small in comparison to the value of public properties they have gotten from the administration at far below market rate, such as: rn- PN Hoffman: recipient of 16 acres of Southwest Waterfront on a 99 year lease, for only $1 per yearrn- Donatelli and Klein: poised to receive two properties on Georgia Avenue, valued at over $1 million, for only $1rn- Lowe Enterprises: recipient of 9 acres at Riggs Rd and South Dakota, NE, valued at $6 million, for only $500,000rn- Argos Group: recipient of Old Engine House #10, valued around $2 million, for only $260,000

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