- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is not camera-shy when seeking publicity on his own behalf and managing what goes on in front of and behind the cameras.

But when it comes to leaving things to chance at public forums, the mayor is missing in action.

Mr. Fenty was a no-show for at least three public forums in the past week and a half, including the most recent debate on Tuesday night at Israel Baptist Church in Northeast. Whatever the reason for his absences, the mayor has offered no explanation and voters are starting to notice.

Still, he’s carrying out his mayoral duties by, for instance, appearing Tuesday morning at a news conference in Southeast to talk about school test scores.

But the tech-savvy Mr. Fenty can’t seem to reconcile his campaign schedule with those of his constituents, he has been absent without explanation and some voters are considering casting their ballots elsewhere.

A senior citizen who said she had been in Mr. Fenty’s corner has switched her support to Vincent C. Gray, the D.C. Council chairman who launched his campaign this spring.

The woman, one of more than 100 people who attended the Tuesday night debate sponsored by the Premium Community Development Corp., thanked Mr. Gray for showing up and said she told another Democratic candidate, Leo Alexander, the same thing. She then told Mr. Gray she would like to volunteer for his campaign.

Other voters also took notice of Mr. Fenty’s absence at a Monday forum at Brown Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill.

“The mayor didn’t show [Monday] night either,” said Robert Brannum, a frequent Fenty critic who moderated the forum.

On July 5, Mr. Fenty was a no-show at what was billed as the “Great Education Forum” - a topic right up the mayor’s alley as he continues to paint himself as the city’s education reformer. But the mayor handed over the stage to Mr. Gray, saying the problem was irreconcilable schedules.

Mr. Fenty’s attendance at forums started to turn after staff changes in late June.

That was when Sean Madigan left the city administrator’s office to aid the Fenty team, whose communications chief, Helen Hare, handles forums and other events.

Mr. Madigan, who handles media inquiries, did not return phone calls from The Washington Times requesting comment on the mayor’s recent no-shows.

Mr. Fenty is definitely still on the campaign trail chatting up residents. On Sunday, he found time for a second gathering with Washington’s go-go music crowd.

While the mayor gave no face time to voters at those three forums, where he could defend his record and debate contenders, his supporters are gearing up for additional pep go-go rallies with Mr. Fenty.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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