Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Find Out Who Your Friends Are Edition

A deliberative roundup of one city's local politics. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!


  • Source: HTJ to Lose Economic Development Committee
  • 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.

    Gray sked: Press conference on D.C. home rule with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton at the Capitol, 3 p.m.

    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.

    • Truth Hurts

      So Graham was so shocked, he returned the money instead of reporting it to the FBI (or anyone else)? The "shock" devastated him so much, he couldn't bring himself to discuss it from 2009 until now? And it prevented him from firing Loza on the spot? How lame is that excuse?!?

      Query: Did he later accept campaign contributions from Kamu or his taxi crew?

      There's no acceptable excuse for him not calling in the FBI immediately, giving them the dough, and offering to cooperate in prosecuting Loza and Kamu (who he didn't know was already working with the Feds).

    • Truth Hurts

      It's time for Alexander to go when she says HT should keep his chair.

      Trivia question: Anyone remember who selected and backed her for the ward 7 seat?

      It gets worse every day. Something drastic needs to happen before the feds take over this mess.

    • michaeliceman

      That being said, I do think that JG is getting a relative pass on the whole Loza thing. Loza presented some cash to JG from the Ethiopian taxi guys. JG turned it down...BUT he did not report the attempted bribe and he did not fire Loza for attemtping to broker it????? That certainly does not pass the smell test and JG should get called on it by the public, the media and his Council colleagues. I think that if the OAG wanted to go digging in Ward 1, they would find some interesting things there also.

    • meanteeth

      I don't understand how a Graham gets a bye on not reporting the crime OR firing Loza, despite having full knowledge. This makes no sense. If he knew that Loza had accepted the cash, he was obligated to report it-- both as a Councilmember serving on behalf of DC residents, and if he's a member of the Bar, isn't this a serious violation?! I'm amazed. Ward One, we deserve better.

    • SEis4ME

      @meanteeth- I don't understand how a Graham gets a bye on not reporting the crime OR firing Loza, despite having full knowledge.

      Graham is accused of potentially shady dealings? Really? Let me scan the Post/WCP archives repeatedly telling this apparently unfolding story.


    • Wendy Washington

      So Yvette Alexander believes that Thomas shouldn't have to give up anything at present? If we can believe what Ward 7 constituents have posted on this board, Alexander (and Kwame Brown) should STFU.

      Alexander may be willing to give HTJ the benefit of the doubt, however,as a Ward 5 resident, I will not. Thomas has done nothing whatsoever for his constituents. A few years ago, when there was an uproar over the transient laborers who were congregating at Home Depot, he could not muster a sensible solution to the problem.

      At the very least, Thomas should be stripped of the chairmanship and censured. People are screaming recall for other elected officials, but Thomas should be first on the recall list.

    • Marciela

      This is exactly what I've been thinking about because corruption is corruption is corruption. Graham needs to be held as accountable as everyone else. It would be even more corrupt to punish one while giving the other a bye. Enough!

      1. Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown has issues that require exploration and handling.

      2. Yvette Alexander, hand-picked by Vincent Gray, needs to be investigated.

      3. HTJ issues need to be resolved.

      4. Jim Graham and the shock? Dude PLEASE! He and Loza were very close. The "bribe" or whatever should have been reported and handled.

      5. Jack Evans is alleged to be a crook. He needs to be dealt with.

      6. Vincent Gray needs to be dealt with.

      7. Any officials either elected or appointed who have helped hide, were complicit in or knowingly participated in wrong doing need to be looked into and investigated. With the well-kept public secrets in DC, we ALL KNOW what's gone on.

    • MadWard7Resident

      Let me say the CM Yvette "Pig Feet" Alexander needs to go with the rest of her buddies.

      I see CM " Harry "Playboy Bamma"Thomas beat them all to the punch!

      Instead of just stepping down from your committee, you need to step down from office. Please spare you and your family the embarrssment and shame! Harry do the right thing for the residents of Ward 5 and the District of Columbia!

    • Mary

      Thomas needs to step down, just taking away his committee chairmanship is lame. This ciy council and the mayor need to get serious about integrity and how taxpayer money should be spent. Where is the accountability?

    • Southeast Ken

      Itjustamess, where are you?

      My oh my, Cherita Whiting has tears in her eyes in the Washington Times photo. According to the Washington Times story, Ms. Whiting has a serious criminal background and she lied on her DC Government application about her felonies. Oh what a web we weave Miss Whiting.


    • Frederick Butler

      Still early, but we are coming....www.recallvincegray.com

    • TheAngryVoter

      I think Harry Thomas needs to let the Economic Development Seat go for the sake of the council's image. The confidence that the citizens has in their gov't officials is dwindling on the daily basis, and its a shame that they even have to entertain these crazy episodes. This deserves an HBO sitcom though, keeps me laughing everyday.


    • ColorMeSkeptical

      Not content to steal money from the DC taxpayers, good ol' HTJ still hasn't paid federal taxpayers back for 16k in student loans according to a recent article over at The Examiner:

      "Court records still show Jamison as Thomas' attorney in the federal government's lawsuit to get the councilman to pay the $16,000 he owes in student loans and associated fees. Thomas is scheduled to appear in the case on June 15."

      According to his Wikipedia page, he was born in 1960 and went to Bowie State. If my math is correct, that means he probably graduated around 1983. So he is 50 years old, has probably been out of school for >25 years, and STILL has outstanding student loan debt? Shame on you Ward 5.

    • itsjustamess

      @Southeast Ken - You know I'm only a keystroke away. I've been busy dealing with the redistricting gerrymandering but I still got my feet planted firmly in Yvette Alexander's flat behind and and my eye on Cherita's bold-faced lying mug. Remember, you heard it here first. There's about to be a DC government-wide concert choir organized featuring solo appearances by Howard Brooks, Harry Thomas, Cherita Whiting, and others to be announced at a later date. Serving as both director of the choir and conductor of the orchestra will be the FBI and US Attorney respectively. At this time, musical arrangements are being made and auditions are being held for the soprano section. Choir robes have been selected and will be a bright, glowy pinstriped orange. Rehearsals and all concert performances will be held in the chapel of an undisclosed Federal Bureau of Prisons facility. Oh, say can you sing?

    • peckisback

      Like I said. You will see more dc money go to virginia and philly than the law should allow. Peck is back. This administration is bought and paid for. Welcome and congrats "General" Peck.

      Gray is completely corrupt.

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    • dbrighthaupt

      CM Alexander may have been searching for something politically safe to say. She couldn't have meant that.

      " [corrupt CMs]...have demonstrated themselves disciples of that brand, while Barry has assisted them in aggressively exhuming it."

      J Barras is reporting what we'd naturally perceive to be obvious -- on the surface of Barry. MB may loose his footing/not hold his own against my baby Catania, but he's still a cleverly outstanding politician. MB has, does, will not forget the day he was censored & stripped (hell I won't let him). Only MB knows what he needs down the line, therefore he will verbally fight for his fellow CMs. I'm still a student of it all and I suggest we watch.....wait .....watch Teflon Don.

    • dbrighthaupt

      'I know I’m not going to win this, because the fix is on. It’s shameful,' [MB] said, noting his ward feels 'kicked in the behind' by the subcommittee."

      Note: 'I'm' not going to win.... & 'his ward feels'

      'His ward' feels nothing. 1. Most are just waking from anesthesia if others aren't still clueless zombies. This redistricting issue passed over their lives like yesterday times in a wind storm 2. MB went into this redistricting fight alone. His reasoning was not shared, discussed, debated, strategized, ect amongst constituents ward-wide----those who could have stood/blogged behind him and rallied his vision would have because he actually made sense.

      Those who testified weren't in sync.

      And that whole journey should be revisted as a playbook in a Civic Participation class. Just like those violent B&W reels we used to watch in our HS Drivers Ed classes.

      ....and the shameless plug: See See, this is what my contracted Program Proposal would have addressed in Ward 8.

    • dbrighthaupt

      @Truth Hurts - "Something drastic needs to happen before the feds take over this mess."

      Wonder if The Feds actually planted little sparks to get pandoras box open. hunh, imagine that.

      See w/ MB on the scene, The Feds should never ever never ever ever want to attempt to 'take over' anything they can't solidly lock down, trap or prove; and will end w/ a headline similar to Barry's 80's = lot of taxpayer $$ spent to help rebuild a martyr.

      I'd assume The Feds got a hunch months ago, waited for local officials to do the right thing and if that didn't happen, tossed it up in the air for The Media to begin doing their [The Feds] jobs. Just a guess....

      but imagine that

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