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A lot has happened since LL’s story Sunday evening in which Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said he did not expect any efforts to remove Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans from his post as chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
LL reported Sunday that four councilmembers believed Evans could not sit as chair on a committee that acts as the gatekeeper for the District’s tax and revenue measures. Mendelson was also quoted as saying he believes Evans has lost a level of respect among his colleagues necessary to manage certain bills in the committee. He has also has spoken strongly against any action beyond a proposed reprimand, which the Council will vote on this morning.
By Monday afternoon, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen added his name to the list of lawmakers saying Evans should not chair the committee. And by Monday evening, following Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s State of the District address, Mendelson said there might be an amendment to the reprimand resolution after “a number of progressive groups have turned this into a lobbying campaign to force Jack to step down from the committee.”
In other words, a Council coup. For those counting along at home, that’s five councilmembers (Robert White, David Grosso, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Allen) for whom the controversy surrounding Evans means he is unfit to continue as chair.
In order to remove Evans’ committee chairmanship, the Council needs a simple majority of seven votes.
LL spent the better part of yesterday calling around to get a sense of where each councilmember stands. Only Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd‘s office responded, saying Todd supports the reprimand as written, but he prefers to wait for the federal probe into Evans’ business dealings to play out before signing onto further discipline. Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray has also previously said he believes Mendelson struck the right balance with the proposed reprimand.
But consider, for a moment, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh and Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White.
White joined Grosso and Nadeau in a walk-out protest of the Council’s closed-door meeting last week. The Council voted to close the meeting to allow Evans to make a statement to his colleagues and to hear from their lawyer.
Cheh remained in the meeting, but says she walked out of the room after Evans apologized because someone wanted to ask him a question, which she felt was inappropriate.
In an interview following the meeting, Cheh left open the possibility of removing Evans from his committee.
“I’m concerned about it, and we’re sufficiently concerned about it that we’re going to continue to talk about it,” Cheh said.