Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: What A Friend We Have In Gowdy 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!

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  • Good morning sweet readers! Politicians and their fancy cars, a global phenomenon. News time:

    What a Friend We Have In Gowdy: The New Republic takes a timely look at South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the District's so-far benevolent Republican overlord who has taken a hands-off approach in his role as head of the subcommittee that oversees the city's affairs. LL's never understood why congressional lawmakers think their constituents give a flip about the District's local affairs, and it turns out Gowdy thinks along the same lines. Says Gowdy, "I was on the campaign trail for 18 months ... I never got a question about the District of Columbia in South Carolina. I didn’t come up here with a mandate. [Eleanor Holmes Norton] doesn’t go out of her way to tell us what to do in South Carolina. I’m not searching for ways to tell the District of Columbia what to do." Says TNR: "For past conservatives placed in charge of D.C., a general philosophical commitment to local autonomy appeared to matter little when it came to the District. But Gowdy’s emphasis on deferring to local authority appears more consistent. He’s chosen to meet with D.C officials in their offices instead of his own, sought areas of agreement instead of contention by reaching out to address boring but manageable topics like Metro safety, and largely abstained from digging into local minutiae.

    AFTER THE JUMP: The Lindenfeld Doctrine; Connecting the Dots, Hearing for Thompson ...

    Do This, Not That: D.C. political campaign guru Tom Lindenfeld nailed his theses to door of the Wilson building this morning in the form of a WaPo op-ed that has 10 suggestions to help reform city guvment. "As it stands, there are too many opportunities and temptations for government leaders, private contractors and professional lobbyists to engage in activities that hold our city back and advance corruption and greed at the expense of the rest of us," writes Lindenfeld, who worked for Mayors Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty. His ten ideas: 1) End “pay to play," 2) Ban contributions from lobbyists, 3) Crack down on independent expenditures, 4) End constituent service funds, 5) Bar elected leaders from receiving free legal advice, 6) Ban the practice of setting up non-profit organizations to fund unofficial mayoral travel and related expenses, 7) All government meetings should be open and held in public, 8) Strengthen and enforce city contracting rules, 9) Impose a strict “bad boy” provision, 10) Ban contractors working under false pretenses. Ok, dreamer, good luck with your little plan.

    Connecting the Dots: Jonetta Rose Barras suggests that Councilmember Michael A. Brown's whole political career is part of a diabolical plan by a pro-gambling cabal to take control of the District. "The connections scream for attention: Individuals in the District, with financial backing from Caribbean businessmen, sought in 2004 and 2006 to bring 3,500 video slot machines to the city. A savvy coalition of residents blocked those efforts. The pro-gambling crew promised to return in 2008. It appears they may have chosen an inside game instead. In 2008, Michael A. Brown, a lifelong Democrat and proponent of legalized gambling, strategically morphed into an independent and won a D.C. Council seat. That same year, Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi decided to change the city's lottery contractor."

    Buy Back the Bond Tax: Will this budget season ever end?! The Examiner reports that Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown is looking "for the $13.8 million he needs to offset a new tax on out-of-state municipal bonds." This makes Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans happy.

    Let's Have a Little Talk: Councilmember David Catania is planning a hearing on the District government's recent $10 million settlement with Chartered Health Plan, a Medicaid contractor owned by accountant and generous political donor Jeff Thompson, the Post reports. The hearing is a "chance for Catania to put the klieg lights" on Thompson if he shows at the hearing, says Mike DeBonis.

    IG Dings Allen Lew: Another day, another watchdog report that finds that City Administrator Allen Lew's old shop broke the rules. Specifically, the Office of Inspector General says Lew's old Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization "office disregarded and misinterpreted procurement laws, operated without finalized procurement rules, hired its chief of staff on a sole-source, consultant contract, allowed consultants to work without valid written contracts, and failed to appropriately address a major conflict of interest," reports WBJ's Michael Neibauer.

    In Other News:

    Gray sked: Weekly press conference, Room G-9 JAWB, 10 a.m.

    Council sked: Committee on the Judiciary hearing on hate crimes, Room 500 JAWB, 10 a.m., Committee on the Judiciary round table on police boundary realignment, Room 500 JAWB, noon.

    Additional reporting by Nick DeSantis

    • Truth Hurts

      Lindenfeld's WaPo op-ed about necessary D.C. donor/contracting/lobbying reforms is spot on. The first CM who introduces legislation to implement his suggestions will have my full support. By the same token, every CM (or mayor) who opposes these reforms should be shown the door.

      TO EVERYONE: Please read the op-ed in its entirety. This is something we should all get behind.

    • DC_Union_Thug

      I'd also add a ban on Council members holding outside employment. They already make a good salary and this ban would eliminate many potential conflicts of interest. To get it passed, you'd probably have to grandfather in the existing members so it would only apply as seats turn over. That would be a good start though.

    • Just Curious

      Heretofore, a number of questions have arisen about the behavior of Intralot, Gtech, their minority contractors and Gray and Gandhi. Why hasn't anyone requested a federal investigation into all parties based on the first and second lottery bids and the behavior of all parties thereto?

      Hasn't it been alleged that Gray, as Council Chairman, misused his authority to delay the first bid and compel Intralot to accept his cronies on the second bid? What role did other members, including Michael Brown, play in either bid? Why did the CFO allow political interference from any party during either bid to impact the process? What financial contributions have been made by Intralot or Gtech or their lobbyists or contractors to DC Council members or funds or entities controlled by them?

      Wasn't there a bid protest heard by the Contract Appeals Board, in which they found no wrongdoing or suspicious practices in the first lottery bid? If so, why do others make such baseless claims of alleged wrongdoing during the first bid? Why has the OCFO's internal audit arm or the Office of Inspector General failed to conduct an objective and impartial inquiry into all of these issues? Why did Chairman Gray meet with Intralot and Gtech to pressure them to accept Lorraine Green on their bid teams, while he refused to allow the first lottery bid to be voted on for nearly a year?

      How much money did it cost DC to continue to contract with LTE and Gtech during this and subsequent delays? Who did Gandhi meet with and why relative to either lottery bid? Only a federal investigation will find answers to these questions...

    • DCGOVCORRUPTION

      The ony area left untouched by Tom is the open end funding of political consultants by political campaigns to consultants like himself. They get paid even when candidates lose. Should funds be returned when you fail as a political guru Tom? Let the blame game begin---lets see-you provide advice to former mayor fenty and former councilmember biddle-both lost, you raked in a lot of dollars--give them back? Oh, and you sued tony williams when he would not over pay you for nothing.

    • kiara

      What about Political Candidates who double as Rappers? like Larry Pretlow?

    • Truth Hurts

      @ just curious:

      IG's office claims to be "finishing up the reports" on its supposed lottery contract "investigation". Don't hold your breath.

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