City Desk

A Council Worth Forgetting

The D.C. Council’s last meeting of its 19th legislative session will take place on Dec. 18, bringing to an end what longtime Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans once called “the worst council I’ve ever served on in my 20 years on the council.”

The session, which saw the resignation of two councilmembers, probably won’t be remembered as one of Washington’s best. Before the 19th session fades into District history, here’s a look back at the lowlights.

Jan. 24, 2011: News breaks of new Chairman Kwame Brown's almost $2,00-a-month Lincoln Navigator lease, setting off "Navigatorgate."

Feb. 25, 2011: Navigatorgate and scandals in the mayor's office convince NPR to declare that Washington is having "one of the worst weeks ever in the annals of city government."

June 6, 2011: D.C.'s attorney general sues Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. for stealing money meant for children's sports.

July 12, 2011: Brown strips Tommy Wells from the chairmanship of his beloved Committee on Public Works and Transportation, presumably for payback over Wells' Navigatorgate investigation.

Sept. 20, 2011: The day that prompted Evans' "worst council ever" remark begins with At-Large Councilmember David Catania telling At-Large Councilmember (and now Chairman) Phil Mendelson, "I don't give a shit what you think," and gets worse from there.

Jan. 5, 2012: Thomas resigns after being charged with theft and filing false tax returns by federal prosecutors.

Feb. 14, 2012: A Valentine's Day Council retreat turns ugly when Catania tells Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, "Fuck you, Marion." Later, Catania accuses Barry of being "full of shit." Barry blames Catania's hostility on a pattern of attacking black men.

Feb. 21, 2012: Inspired by Catania and Barry, the Council passes new anti-swearing rules.

May 3, 2012: Newly-released documents reveal that Thomas spent $89 of his stolen money on leather chaps.

June 6, 2012: Brown resigns after being charged with bank fraud.

June 13, 2012: Scrambling to fill the interim spot opened after Brown's exit, Vincent Orange tells his colleagues, "I'm the best. I'm the best." Orange loses to Mendelson.

Sept. 11, 2012: Orange attends the Sneaker Ball IX fundraiser. Pictures published a week later show him inside a photobooth at the party with his hands wrapped around a staffer's waist. Orange denies wrongdoing to the Washington City Paper: "It's all fun and transparent."

Oct. 9, 2012: For repeatedly failing to make phone check-ins with the court, Brown gets an 11 p.m. curfew.

Nov. 29, 2012: Barry passes a bill through committee by recessing a meeting while bill opponent Mendelson is in the room, then quickly ending the recess when Mendelson leaves.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • monkeyrotica

    WTF ever happened to HTJ's leather chaps? Were they ever "broken in" or are they "unsoiled?"

  • Will Sommer

    Good question! I imagine them at an FBI auction somewhere.

  • Bruce Majors

    This last year has made it clearer than ever that the term limits initiative every Ward in the city voted for in the 90s, that passed by a 2 to 1 margin, should not have been nullified by the city council. These people should regularly be tossed. If people think they are worth keeping after two terms on the school board or the city council,and have something irreplaceable to offer, they can run for another office, Congress, Mayor, etc.

    Since the term limit initiative was a direct expression of popular will about a basic consituitive principle of government, in overturning it the DC government declared itself, by the popular social contract theories conventional politicians use to justify their rule, to be an illegitimate body. DC residents should stop paying taxes or obeying any laws (above and beyond basic moral truths we have had with us since Noah or Moses).

  • Bruce Majors

    Shouldn't DC resident Tim Day be mentioned in this article? Didn't he expose all this while DC journ0lists and politicians ignored their friends' corruption and perfidy?

    Doesn't that mean those fake initiatives the city council put on the ballot last month (while removing the popular campaign finance reform referendum that would have cut off their corporate donations, if found constitutional anyway), where they the council members can discipline any member who is not voting as they like, will be ineffective at ending corruption. Since as we saw this year the council does not notice it without an outside whistle blower.

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  • B

    Tim shouldn't be because he isn't on the council.
    This was a great recap.