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Good morning sweet readers! News time:
Find Out Who Your Friends Are: Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., fresh off of being sued Monday by D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan for allegedly taking money that was supposed to teach inner-city kids how to golf and using it instead to teach himself how to golf at Pebble Beach, faced his colleagues on the council Tuesday in a private meeting. It seems a majority of them want him to resign as head of the economic development committee, the Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott reports. Says one anonymous CM: “Council members want him to resign, and wanted him to know it.” But a majority isn’t everyone. Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander tells the Post that Thomas shouldn’t have to give up anything at present. “I don’t think the economic development committee has anything to do with the allegations. Until the allegations are proven, I don’t think action should be taken.” Thomas backed off his statement Monday that he wouldn’t resign from econ dev, saying he would now do “what’s best for the institution.” Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown says he’ll make an announcement about Thomas’ fate today. Question: Is Thomas becoming the D.C. equivalent of Prince George’s County Councilmember Leslie “the alleged bra stuffer” Johnson?
AFTER THE JUMP: Back to the Future; Loza Offered Graham Cash; Barry’s Redistricting Blues…
Graham Refused Cash From Loza: Prosecutors showed video yesterday of Ted Loza, the former chief of staff to former Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, taking cash from Abdul Kamus, the point person for the group of Ethiopian cab drivers who were caught looking to bribe their way to taxi cab riches. The feds want Loza to spend 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges. Loza’s lawyer want him to get probation. But that’s not the interesting part. Per the Post, at one recorded meeting “Kamus also handed Loza $2,600 in an envelope to pass along to Graham — money the council member did not accept, according to officials. During a meeting videotaped later, Loza returned the money to Kamus. Graham said in an interview that he told Loza to immediately return the money but was so shocked by the experience that he did not call authorities. ‘I accepted nothing of value, including cash, from anyone who may have had an intention of attempting to influence legislation,’ Graham said.” Question for LL’s lawyer readers: are public officials required by law to report bribery attempts? And why would Graham not fire Loza on the spot for passing along an attempted bribe? LL will have more on this later. Loza’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue today.
Back to the ’80s?: Postie Marc Fisher asks: What does it mean that at least five members of the D.C. Council and the mayor are spending a good chunk of their time trying to fend off accusations of wrongdoing? Is it because Mayor Vince Gray really is taking the city back to the bad old days, or do the recent scandals, most of which have their roots in pre-Gray days, “reflect instead a growing propensity among city politicians to live beyond their means, taking improper advantage of the surge in campaign cash and city contracts in recent years.” Take it away, Bill Lightfoot: “Our problems in the past were different: Marion Barry was drugs, Tony Williams was the dork, Adrian [Fenty] was arrogant. What we’re seeing now is a reflection of a bigger problem: The elected officials think they’re entitled to a lifestyle and privileges that ordinary people do not have,” later asking “what does that tell you” about the fact that Kwame Brown’s boat is called “Bulletproof.”
Meanwhile, here’s Jonetta Rose Barras‘ J’accuse moment: “[Thomas’] performance has been reminiscent of old-style D.C. politics—the version in which politicians shamelessly and falsely cast themselves as victims, allegedly battling powerful forces preventing them from providing money and programs to vulnerable populations. But those pols were serving only their interests. That kind of leadership—replete with peacock pronouncements like those by Thomas—was perpetuated in the District by Marion Barry. It divided communities, failed the people it purported to help, and eroded public confidence in government. During the past decade, former Mayors Anthony A. Williams and Adrian M. Fenty worked to bury that model. But in the past several months, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, and Councilmen Michael A. Brown and Thomas have demonstrated themselves disciples of that brand, while Barry has assisted them in aggressively exhuming it. The true sufferers are District residents. Further, a government that was attempting to polish its image has become mired in the muck of unethical and corrupt activities committed by a cabal of elected officials. Negative repercussions await the city if this gang activity isn’t disrupted.”
Keep Everything But the Prison: The council gave preliminary approval to a redistricting plan that allows Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to keep most of Hill East, except for the souls living in the city’s jail and homeless shelter. Marion Barry’s plan to move Ward 8 across the river failed. Barry is not happy, and plans to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review whether the proposed boundaries violate civil rights laws. Prediction: they don’t. From the Times: “Council Member Marion Barry offered the lone dissent in a 12-1 vote, calling the plan ‘morally wrong’ for keeping all of his ward east of the Anacostia River. Mr. Barry, a Ward 8 Democrat, said the redistricting subcommittee blocked his ward from expanding its diversity and business prospects to shake its reputation as an impoverished bloc. ‘I know I’m not going to win this, because the fix is on. It’s shameful,’ he said, noting his ward feels ‘kicked in the behind’ by the subcommittee.”
Don’t Write Off Sulaimon: The WaPo editorial board says that while Sulaimon Brown may act a tinsy bit weird, his accusations against the mayor shouldn’t be written off whole cloth. Witness the Sulaimon paradox: “If he is so nutty, what other reason could account for his hiring other than a political deal?” Meanwhile, Gray “stood by Sulaimon Brown’s résumé Tuesday to demonstrate that Brown’s $110,000-a-year city government job wasn’t an underhanded deal. ‘The man worked at three different audit firms,’ Gray told The Washington Examiner.” True, but Brown also had lengthy legal and credit troubles, had exhibited strange behavior on the campaign trails that Gray saw first hand, had—oh, nevermind, you know all this already.
In Other News: Gray taps former OCTO boss Suzanne Peck to find waste. DCist notes that nearly a majority of councilmembers are “ethically challenged.” WaTimes says Cherita Whiting was hired despite lying on a 2010 job application to work for Councilmember Phil Mendelson. Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli calls the Dulles rail project “a rip-off.” The council approved the creation of a new Department of Forensics. D.C. statehood gained an ally…in New Hampshire. DCPS graduation rates rose slightly in 2010, but are likely to drop next year after schools adopt a new, tougher formula. And here’s some new data on the geography of rent control.
Council sked: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing, Room 123 JAWB, 10 a.m., Committee on Aging and Community Affairs round table, Room 412 JAWB, 11 a.m., Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing, Room 123 JAWB, 2 p.m.