Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown gently scolded Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry yesterday for sending out a press release from a staffer’s email attacking one of his challengers in April’s election.
News Channel 8’s Bruce DePuyt got a copy of a letter Brown sent to Barry, asking him to refrain from possibly violating council rules by using “government resources to support of oppose any candidate for elected office.” Barry’s voicemail is full, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.
The target of Barry’s attack was Natalie Williams, his former spokeswoman who is now challenging him in the Democratic primary.
Soft rebukes among councilmembers aren’t normally much to get excited about, but in this case the context is important. A week ago, a Clarus poll found that Brown was the most unpopular pol in the city (the poll didn’t ask about ward-level councilmembers). According to the poll, Brown’s approval rating was a paltry 23 percent while his disapproval rating was 57 percent, the highest of any pol surveyed and 4 points higher than Mayor Vince Gray‘s. Compare that to last August, when the same polling company found that 45 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Brown compared to only 17 percent who had an unfavorable view. That kind of nosedive in popularity (which we can safely assume is largely due to Navigatorgate, the alleged “criminal” activity surrounding Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign, and an increasingly dysfunctional council,) probably explains why Brown would feel the need to scold Barry and how his letter quickly found its way into the public record.
Also worth noting is that LL just got a heads up from Brown’s office that he plans on holding monthly press availabilities in the coming year to preview legislative meetings. Gray held these briefings semi-regularly when he was council chairman, but for whatever reason Brown has not. These new briefings also seem motivated by Brown’s unpopularity. “We will continue to double up our efforts to make sure we communicate what’s being done in this city,” Brown told the Post last week in response to his dismal poll numbers.
LL seriously doubts that communication breakdowns are responsible for Brown’s tanking poll numbers, but hey, the more press briefings, the better.