Questionable qualifications | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Questionable qualifications

Half a dozen developers, whose projects won subsidies, were targeted with allegations of ethical lapses or troubled finances.

Fort Lincoln New Town Corp. and Metropolitan Development are lead developers for projects that won subsidies worth $10 million and $22 million, respectively. They each drew allegations of ethical shortcomings and lawsuits from their residents. Metropolitan could not be reached for comment and an attorney for Fort Lincoln declined to comment because the lawsuit is pending.

Several developers were castigated after financial or legal problems.

Neal Drobenare was admonished in 2002 by the Office of Campaign Finance for actions when he was a city employee who chaired a committee that grants housing development loans. He violated city rules on maintaining impartiality and preserving government integrity after he encouraged the brother of a woman he had dated to apply for a loan and helped "with significant input" in preparing the application, according to the Office's report. Drobenare resigned before the agency could punish him. Six years later, Drobenare's firm, NorthStar, was part of the development team that was granted an $835,000 tax break for an apartment complex in Northeast D.C. Drobenare could not be reached for comment.

Doug Jemal has a history of falling behind on property taxes but his projects are receiving more than $17 million dollars in tax breaks. Jemal was also convicted of wire fraud in 2006. Jemal could not be reached for comment.

Scott Nordheimer was convicted of real estate fraud, sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay a Seattle company in the early 1990s. Soon after, he co-founded Mid-City Urban, which is now called Urban Atlantic. Since then, the firm, based in Bethesda, has been on development teams scoring $63 million in subsidies. Nordheimer, now a "senior advisor" for the company, could not be reached for comment and Vicki Davis, the company's president, declined to comment. When Davis was asked earlier this year if Urban Atlantic discloses the information to the city, she wrote in an email: "We make public disclosure to all of our clients on our company and its employees."

Financial problems plagued Carl Williams before November 2010, when his entities – St. Paul Charities and St. Paul Community Development Corporation – received an annual property tax break of roughly $590,000. Several companies won judgments against Williams collectively worth more than $12 million. He could not be reached for comment.

-Julie Patel and Patrick Madden
NPR

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Why do so many animated movies star motherless kids? Sarah Boxer, a graphic novelist, cartoon-lover and mother, talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the phenomenon and the message it sends to children.
NPR

Food-Mood Connection: How You Eat Can Amp Up Or Tamp Down Stress

We tend to soothe ourselves with sugar-laden foods when we're feeling strained. But they may make us feel even worse. Protein and omega-3s, on the other hand, can help reduce stress, researchers say.
NPR

What Will Become Of Obama's Request For Immigration Relief Funds?

NPR's Arun Rath talks to political correspondent Mara Liasson about the chances of a political agreement over how to handle the migration of thousands of Central American children.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.