Posts Tagged ‘DC City Council’

Something is Rotten in the District of Columbia

Monday, June 11th, 2012

DC government stinks to high heaven. We know DC lawmakers are certainly not “bullet proof” to corruption  but it’s disturbing they think they can engage in criminal behavior without retribution. DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown became the second member of the body forced to resign from office in disgrace this year on the heels of council member Harry Thomas.

When news broke of Brown’s conviction charge on bank fraud, no one was surprised except Mayor Vincent Gray because DC residents have come to expect the lowest common denominators to serve us in government.  Mayor Vincent Gray tweeted: “I’m shocked, disappointed & saddened by today’s news; I served alongside Mr. Brown on Council & never would’ve imagined something like this.”

I doubt Gray was shocked in the least because he knows the culture of entitlement pervading DC government and the council in particular. He also knows the US Attorney’s office is investigating some alleged shady dealings by Gray and his 2010 mayoral campaign staff. My mother always says, “things happen in threes” both good and bad things. So, DC residents could see more convicted felons falling from our government ranks.

Kwame Brown pleaded guilty to bank fraud for overstating his income so he could secure a home equity loan to buy a boat he ironically christened “Bullet Proof.” Brown also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charge.  The US Attorney’s office year long investigation also found Brown’s 2008 campaign failed to report $270,000 in campaign funds, made payments in cash exceeding $50,  and discovered another  $239,000 was diverted to a company run by his brother.  Like Brown, Harry Thomas thought he was entitled to do as he pleased once he became an elected DC official and stole $350,000 from DC taxpayers.

A real indication of how “lost in arrogant space” Brown was can be seen in his resignation letter. Instead of apologizing profusely to DC voters whom he serves at the pleasure of and to whom he must hold himself accountable, Brown offered an “unconditional apology to the members of the Council for all the negative attention that my conduct has brought about.” What’s revealing in this statement is Brown like many members of the council think they are more beholden to each other than the people they serve and this is where in the problem lies.

What’s disturbing is once elected, DC lawmakers seem to think they are immune to the laws of the land and more importantly standards of ethics and decency to which elected officials should feel compelled to adhere. Equally repugnant, it seems the only thing Kwame Brown and Harry Thomas knew how to do well was run for public office and be “third rate petty crooks, liars and hypocrites,” as Washington Post columnist Colbert King described.  Because neither knew what else to do but abuse their political power, both clung to their positions until the bitter end, only resigning when the heat of the law was poised to come down on them like a guillotine.

District residents need to raise the bar on our elected officials and stop voting the same charming, bombastic buffoons into office. We should start by changing the elections laws. In the Democrat dominated District of Columbia to allow for open primaries where all voters regardless of political party can vote. This would encourage greater voter turnout and more non-Democrat candidates to run for office because the primary races truly would be competitive and open, separating the wheat from the chafe. In other words candidates would have to have their act together because independents, Republicans and every other non-Democrat vote would count.

Voters also need to expand their political viewpoint and stop blindly voting for Democrats. There is no political diversity on the DC Council. It is a body of Democrats. With all the scandals and more on the horizon, I think it’s time for DC residents to try something new and give Republican candidates running for office serious consideration.  Why not? What do DC residents have to lose? Nothing could be worse than the crop of Donkeys we’ve got, making asses of us all.

The Case for Patrick Mara, GOP DC Council Candidate

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

DC government is so out of control! I don’t know where to start, except by saying the time has come for DC Voters to have a more diverse, qualified pool of mayoral candidates to choose fromand elect more Republicans like Patrick Mara to the city’s council. Mara is running for the at-large council seat vacated by Council Chairman Kwame Brown. In addition to running on the usual platform of improving schools, making neighborhoods safe, Mara wants to make DC government more effective, and efficient. Something most residents desperately want: to purge the cronyism and unethical behavior from DC government.

As a black person and resident of the nation’s capital, it’s embarrassing to continue to see DC black elected officials continually get involved in shady dealings.

Our newly elected Mayor Gray looks like he’s going to bring back the “daze” of former Mayor Marion Barry where government was large on inefficiency and heavy on corruption. Gray’s second in command Kwame Brown reminds more of a D list celebrity than Chairman of the DC Council. And don’t forget about Gray’s transition team director Reuben Charles who owed over $500,000 in combined back taxes and debt.

We probably saw this train wreck coming last year but the facts speak loudly for themselves. Gray has hired big guns lawyer Robert Bennett (of defending President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair claim to fame) to presumably help him fend off allegations made by Sulaimon Brown. Sulaimon alleges Gray paid him and promised him a job in exchange making attacks against Fenty during the mayoral campaign. Sulaimon was given the job of special assistant in the Department of Health Care Finance at plump salary of $110,000 a year.

Looks like, sounds like quid pro quo to me. He has since been dismissed from the position because of media reports on his unsavory past. It was also revealed Sulaimon had six run-ins with the law, including an attempted murder charge, but was hired nevertheless.

Sulaimon also alleges Lorraine Green, Gray’s campaign chairwoman and Howard Brooks were also involved in facilitating his work for the campaign. Apparently the FBI has been asking questions and Washington Post columnist Colbert King artfully wrote how this complicates things for all involved. Where All This and the fact Brooks’ son was given a job within the administration doesn’t look like the Gray is off to a good start. It makes one wonder if Mayor Gray is on a course to take DC back to the Control Board days. Moreover, Congressional Republican opponents of DC home rule must be laughing about now.

If news on Gray wasn’t bad enough to dash a resident’s confidence in DC government, Kwame Brown, our new DC Council Chairman, thought his most important job once he took office was to order two pimped out Lincoln Navigators to the taxpayer tune of nearly $4,000 a month. Did I mention DC faces a $400 million budget deficit? Then Kwame was outraged when one car arrived without a black interior because he specified he wanted a black on black Navigator. Does this behavior sound like a leader or someone trying to abuse the system? Of course, after Kwame was exposed in the press, he suddenly found his behavior “unacceptable.” Something tells me Mara, who owns a government relations consulting business, isn’t looking to game the system at the expense of DC taxpayers.

But it gets better; the Washington Post reported this week Kwame Brown may have oops forgotten to report over $250,000 in contribution from his 2008 campaign and then used the money to fund his 2010 campaign. Sadly, in my opinion, this is what many people have come to expect from our black councilmembers either some kind of shady dealings or below average performance.

My councilmember Muriel Bowser sent me a petulant series of email responses to questions I had about her lack of follow up with our power utility PEPCO on our neighborhood’s inordinate number of power outages on blue sky days not just storms. She acts like she’s doing me a favor to get back to me and I’ve come to expect very little from her.

Finally, one question begs to be answered. Why is it, on average, we don’t see these type of shenanigans aka Gray and Kwame exhibited by white councilmembers like Jack Evans, Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh?

Which brings me to Patrick Mara and why we need more Republicans on the DC council and greater diversity. Patrick Mara is the Republican running for the at-large council seat vacated by the illustrious Kwame Brown. He is currently a Republican member of the DC State Board of Education. His challenger is Sekou Biddle, who has the support of Kwame and Gray. This should make you pause, if you haven’t already. Biddle is trying to kick Mara off the ballot alleging some signatures on his nominating petitions were forged. Last week, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics issued a preliminary decision Mara’s petitions were valid.

A hearing was supposed to be scheduled March 10 was delayed to March 15. Suddenly, the board reversed course last Friday, March 11th and told Mara’s campaign some signatures appear forged. Questions abound but a Washington Post op-ed summed up the problems with DC’s one party rule, closed primary system and the tainted appearance it takes on: “It’s disturbing that a totally Democratic body will decide whether a Republican can stand for election. Despite a legal requirement for minority representation on the three-member elections board, which supervises voting, it’s been more than a year since the board has had a Republican. (Two members are Democrats and the third minority seat slated for a Republican has been unfilled for a year.) The April election will be the third with only Democrats calling the shots.”

So much for democracy in the District of Columbia but do we ever expect more? I vote Mara.