Loose Lips

It’s Official: HTJ Out As Chair of Economic Development Committee

Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's office announced just a minute ago that Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has resigned as chairman of the power economic development committee.

Thomas had little choice to step aside as it was clear that the majority of the council was ready to take the committee away from him after Attorney General Irv Nathan filed a blistering lawsuit Monday accusing Thomas of stealing more than $316,000 in city funds earmarked for youth sports.

Says Thomas, in a letter to Brown:

I hold our institution in the highest regard. Therefore, any diminution of my personal prerogatives must be secondary to the Council and its perception among District residents. As we have discussed, the recent allegations made against me,though still simply allegations, are very serious. I remind this body that I have the right to defend myself against those allegations. I am adamant in my belief that as this matter is fully vetted, there will be a positive outcome and resolution for all involved. It is my full expectation that I will be restored to the chairmanship of the Council Committee on Economic Development once this matter comes to the resolution that I anticipate.

Brown says he'll pick a replacement for Thomas after the summer recess.

Two quick thoughts: One, LL was just listening back to his audio recording of Thomas' Monday news conference. Thomas was adamant about not stepping down from either the council or his committee because he says he's done nothing wrong. After giving that news conference a second listen, it seems clear that Thomas didn't initially understand what a world of hurt he is.

Two, Brown knew full well there were serious questions about Thomas' non-profit, Team Thomas, before giving Thomas the keys to the economic development committee at the beginning of this year. Granted, the quid pro quo issues raised last year about Team Thomas' undisclosed relationship with developers never panned out, but Brown still bet that the attorney general's investigation wouldn't amount to much. Brown lost that bet, and now his judgment takes another hit.

Photo By Darrow Montgomery

  • Truth Hurts

    "there will be a positive outcome and resolution for all involved.... I will be restored to the chairmanship ....once this matter comes to the resolution that I anticipate."

    WTF is HT trying to say? That there's another HT who runs a fake Team Thomas and also drives a luxury Audi SUV titled in his name? A case of mistaken identity that, once revealed, will cause the other HT to wire 300k to the city and result in "a positive outcome and resolution for all involved"?

    LL, bookmark this one for CP's 2011 year in quotes edition.

  • Wendy Washington

    Thomas must have waited as late as he possibly could to send that memo to Kwame. Then again, we know HTJ had to have someone with the requisite sense and writing skill prepare it for him. HTJ is delusional if he thinks there is any graceful exit out of this fiasco. Are we going to have to start the recall petition for Harry to realize he should resign from the council, too?

    His failure to deliver the documentation is what led to the lawsuit. If he thinks he can cook up something now that will exonerate him he is sadly mistaken. Harry, just sell the Audi to pay your attorney fees -- and while you're at it -- repay your student loans, too.

  • Drez

    That Brown didn't comprehend how his actions were unusual or wrong could easily be seen as commentary on the practices of each Councilmember and, taken as a whole, the entire council.


    The fact that Chairman Brown is transferring the Committee on Economic Development to his Committee of the Whole and retaining the staff of Councilmember Thomas means this: Councilmember Thomas will continue to make the decisions defacto with Chairman Brown, and continue shaking down developers for funds and jobs for their friends. With his upcoming indictment, he will need money more than ever to pay his attorney fees. Two peas of a pod, and both, loving to ride in luxury off the dc taxpayers.

    Hopefully, the US Attorney's Office will move forward to
    clean house at the Wilson Building since the dc government is not capable of conducting any criminal investigations regarding elected officials at the Wilson Building.

  • LongTimeRez

    Yep! Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber... and for the Auditor's efforts at revealing more graft and corruption, Kwame B. is thanking her by not reappointing to the position!


    Some highlights:


    ...OPEFM reported to the Council of the District of Columbia, in April 2010, that expenditures for the 14
    projects during the same fiscal years totaled $270 million. Thus, there was a $31 million difference between the total project expenditures reported by OPEFM to the Council and actual vendor pay requests contained in DCPEP PM project files.


    For these two contractors (RBK Landscaping and Construction (RBK)and Turner Construction (Turner) alone, OPEFM's contract and procurement files did not contain supporting purchase order documentation for $15.3 million in payments.


    ...in FY 2008 and FY 2009 OPEFM issued a total of $411,42525 in payments to McKissack & McKissack (M&M) without a valid contract in place. Additionally, the Auditor found that OPEFM did not maintain a contract file for M&M. Since OPEFM did not have a written contract or contract file related to the payments made to M&M, neither the Auditor nor OPEFM's management could determine the services M&M was expected to deliver, whether the services were delivered, whether the cost of the services were reasonable, or the basis of payments to M&M.


    The Auditor found that OPEFM relied on inefficient, unreliable, undocumented verbal communications between the OPEFM Executive Director and a long-time contractor to the Executive Director. As a result, neither the Auditor nor the residents of the District have a comprehensive, clear, accurate record of key issues, recommendations, or OPEFM directives pertaining to DCPS modernization and stabilization projects.

    1. OPEFM established a poorly designed contract and procurement records management system that obstructed review of school-and project-specific expenditures.
    2. Project Manager vendor payment records were inaccurate and incomplete.
    3. Drafting of change orders by a partner at the law firm OPEFM contracted to serve as Procurement Manager/Consultant created by appearance of impropriety.
    4. OPEFM failed to document consultations with DCPS Chancellor and the State Superintendent of Education regarding school modernization.
    5. The OPEFM Executive Director did not comply with a statutory mandate to provide Public School Modernization Advisory Committee members with quarterly status reports
    on capital improvement projects.
    6. OPEFM's contract and procurement files did not contain documentation to support $15.3 million in payments.
    7. OPEFM made payments totaling $411,425 without a valid written contract.
    8. OPEFM lacked written documentation to support the decision to spend $1.3 million to obtain LEED certification for School Without Walls.
    9. OPEFM paid $12.7 million for project management services but did not require written documentation of issues and recommendations.
    10. OPEFM modernization projects failed to consistently comply with requirements of Design Guidelines.
    11. OPEFM paid $1.3 million to renovate and lease office space instead of using office space owned by the District of Columbia.
    12. OPEFM rules and regulations on consulting services are silent on contracting provisions for expert and consulting services, however, current practices are inconsistent with District of Columbia procurement regulations.

  • Wrack

    Please, please, pleeeeeeeease, US Attorney, bring some prosecutions and clean up this terrible mess! What a slap in the face for the voters/taxpayers of the District. Can we just get some non-corrupt, non-idiotic representation?

  • DC Guy

    Ward 1 - Jim Graham- Loza, nuff said
    Ward 5 - Team Thomas, nuff said
    Ward 8 - Marion Barry, the King
    At large Michael Brown- I'll bet on red.
    Mayor Gray: Buck stops here

    Really, is it too hard to find some smart people who care enough about the city to not see the Council as an opportunity to feed at the trough of public monies, but rather be stewards of the public trust, to run for the City Council and Mayor?

    I am beginning to think a control board is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Southeast Ken

    Both Harry Thomas Jr. and Kwame Brown are idiots. Neither of them should have never been given this powerful Committee to Chair on the Council of the District of Columbia. Neither have the smarts to chair this powerful Committee. Amazon former Ward 4 DC Councilwoman Charlene Drew-Jarvis chaired this Committee for years on the DC Council.

  • Wendy Washington

    S.E. Ken -- co-sign your post #8. I have my pen poised to sign the petition to recall Harry Thomas.

    Kwame should be looking over his shoulder, too. Indictments should come down soon regarding his 2008 campaign finance irregularities. You know, how he funneled money to his brother's company through a third party. That is no more legal (or ethical) than what Harry did.

  • ToiletLawmakers

    Okay, everyone knows that the all on the Council (I would say with some exception to Bowser) are total effing idiots. This is one variable we know to be true.

    The other true variable is we voted these idiots in! Seemingly after one phuck up then another then another then another then another - we continue to pay the salaries, misgivings, thefts, improprieties and the like of these bona fide criminals. Harry STOLE from DISADVANTAGED youth in this city! Yvette Alexander backed his egregious practices by uttering nonsense that Harry should keep his seat as chairman of the econ committee. ALL COUNCIL MEMBERS SHOULD HAVE URGED HIM TO STEP DOWN AS COUNCILMEMBER NOT JUST AS CHAIRMAN! Because they didn't is deplorable!

    Barry STOLE public funds and his only punishment was to usurp his seat as chairman from some insignificant-do-nothing committee! Yvette STOLE in the form of rent payments, but that could be just the tip of her thieving since she went to bat for a fowl character such as Harry. Who knows what else she is doing? Someone on here said that Yvette was installed to be told what to do - we see this happening!

    Jim Graham DID NOT disclose to authorities that his chief of staff, Loza, accepted a bribe then offered it to Graham - to which he SO-CALLED refused (was it just this one he refused though?). What about Graham's other misappropriation of funds? Someone brought out that he STOLE artwork from one of the charitable organizations he was so-called supporting - but this organization was and is being backed with DC tax dollars!

    Kwame Brown WASTED AND STOLE taxpayer dollars with his lavish taste for vehicles. Looking at him though suggests that he has no quality taste at all really...(C'mon - I WANT THE SAME SUV AS THE MAYOR - how boorish!). Look Kwame up on court docs and you'll find that he was/is being pursued by all sorts of creditors for his lack of personal financial responsibility.

    Michael Brown WAS NOT at the testimony of Cherita Whiting and Sulaimon Brown. Why you ask? Someone on this forum put it straight: BECAUSE Michael B. and Cherita W. had intimate goings-on. Michael, you have disgraced your father's legacy for that one. How does it feel to do a rhinoceros with dirty painted nails? But more than than, more scandal will emerge against Michael Brown.

    David "I have two jobs" Catania must go too! That statement disqualifies you from any category of decency. In spite of Sulaimon ruffling your shedding feathers, he did not deserve that as an unemployed BLACK man. Do you think you're better than he, because you have "two jobs"?

    This is just a slice of what the FBI needs to come in and clean up. Hearkening on the words of Sharon Pratt Kelly: WE MUST CLEAN HOUSE and let us not leave any corner undusted!

  • MadWard7Resident

    CM Harry "Playboy Bamma Thomas should resign from City Council. He needs to take his buddies CM Yvette "Pig Feet" Alexander, CM Michael "Fake Watch Wearing/Riding Daddy Coattail" Brown, CM Kwame "Raccoon Bandit" Brown, CM Phil "Bad Boy" Graham Cracker and CM Marior "Washed Up" Barry out the door with him.

    Mayor Vince "Skeletor" Gray you know Sillyman Brown is not lying on you!

    I hope at the next election cycle in April that we as Voters let them know who is boss!

  • Southeast Ken

    ToiletLawmakers, are you saying, bald Michael no tax paying Brown had a sexual affair with 12 inch painted finger nails ghetto Cherita Whiting? Wow....

  • MadWard7Resident

    What is the deal with CM Vince Orange sending out a letter to take the economic development committee chair??

    How dare this Bamma wants to chair something so soon.
    Did he send the letter out to spite CM Harry Thomas?

    Honestly I really do not like Harry T or Vince O.

    Vince Orange calm your f@@king nerves!


    Upon receiving a copy of Councilmember Harry L. Thomas, Jr.’s memorandum requesting to step down from his position as chair of the Committee on Economic Development (“Committee”) and, Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s press release accepting the request, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange makes the following statement:

    This was a prudent step by both parties.

    However, I cannot accept the request made by Councilmember Thomas that oversight, and operations of the Committee be vested in the Committee of the Whole. Moreover, I cannot accept Chairman Brown’s statement in his press release that he “plan[s] to transfer all economic development matters to the Committee of the Whole until after the Council’s recess [or September 15, 2011] . . . to ensure that the economic development agenda moves forward in an efficient and expeditious manner.”

    If the desire is truly to ensure that the economic development agenda moves forward in an efficient and expeditious manner, there is no better person available to lead this Committee than me, Vincent Orange, At Large Councilmember. It is vitally important at this time that we not only have a leader for this Committee, but that the economic development within the District does not lose momentum.

    Since rejoining the Council of the District of Columbia on May 10, 2011, I have not been assigned to any committees. During my tenure with the Council from 1999 to 2007, I served six years as chair of the Committee on Government Operations. In addition, I served on the Committee on Economic Development and Finance and Revenue. I am credited with bringing a tremendous amount of economic development to the nation’s capital, being a member of the team that created the Economic Resurgence of Washington, DC, Citizens Plan for Prosperity, attended 11 consecutive International Conferences of Shopping Centers, served as vice chairman of the Capitol Waterfront Bid, a boardmember of the Washington, DC Economic Partnership and the District of Columbia Building Industry Association.

    I would be delighted to serve as chair of the Committee on Economic Development. I would honor this assignment with experience, integrity and accountability to improve our great City. I hereby request this assignment from my colleagues.

  • ME4DC

    CM Vincent Orange is a loser! I can not believe people actually voted for this old fool! He is always jumping the gun!

    CM Vincent Orange only made this request to get back at
    CM Harry Thomas. They have been bitter rivals for years!

  • ToiletLawmakers

    Yes, Southeast Ken, that is the word, indeed.

  • Wendy Washington

    Vincent Orange may be too ambitious, but I would like to see Kwame appoint him as chair of the economic development committee. As Ward 5 Council Member, VO accomplished far more than Harry Thomas, Jr. (or senior, for that matter).

    Kwame needs to man up and act in the best interest of the city -- not Harry Thomas, Jr. I do not care whether Kwame and Harry hate VO. VO has a helluva lot more credibility than either of those two boneheads. VO has a law degree and a CPA. So far, VO has handled his personal finances better than either KB or HTJ.

    Kwame can act like an adolescent if he wants to, his name will be next on the recall list. KB is just afraid that VO will do an outstanding job and outshine him (and HTJ, too.)

  • lioneagle

    Greetings -

    I wonder what former councilmembers are saying about all this?

  • dbrighthaupt

    @lioneagle - 1st thought was 'What Former Councilmembers?!' These councilmembers we have here seem to believe they were crowned life time appointments.

    Initially, the only reason I was against MBs push for W8 to cross The River is because I knew he wanted to groom his son Chris to run in '12. I'd be G'Damned to allow W8 become a Monarchy by default.

    [side note: if Chris earned his votes.....fine]

    No For real - Chavous....Allen .....Lightfoot ....

    Lemme share what I learned in 'Successfully-Retired- Corrupt-Politician's school: If they planned right, DCs troubles aren't their troubles. The kickbacks that were quietly, loyally and skillfully negotiated while in office are now funnelling through periodically AND on-time. Thats how ya do it. tee=hee.

    No No For Real - Today's elected officials seem to have forgotten they once knocked on a DC residents door asking to serve the public --- to be a public servant - not a politician for life.