Loose Lips

Livable, Walkable Libraries?

Tommy Wells Booted From D.C. Council Transportation CommitteeOh, the irony.

On the same morning that Greater Greater Washington broke the news that Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown would strip Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells of his position as chair of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Wells—with nary a hint of disappointment—gave a presentation to his colleagues on... Metro and transportation.

During this morning’s council breakfast meeting, Wells provided answers to an exhaustive list of 47 questions about Metro’s state of operations, cobbled together by Brown’s staff. The rest of the council was distracted during the presentation, since everyone in the room was looking to Brown for an answer to the question that was really on their minds:

Why did Brown replace Wells with Ward 3’s Mary Cheh?

Brown told reporters he reshuffled the committee decks to align the environment section of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment with Public Works and Transportation. He called Wells’ work on transportation “phenomenal,” and insisted that he did not strip Wells of his chairmanship as punishment for a pushing an investigation of a certain SUV scandal.

“No, there was no political payback,” said Brown. “None. Zero. Zilch.”

Taking Brown at his word, it’s unclear exactly what problem is solved by replacing Wells with Cheh. When pressed on what he’s trying to accomplish with the switcheroo, Brown said Wells hadn’t done anything to deserve a reassignment.

For his part, Wells said he was “baffled” when he heard about Brown’s power play last night. He refused to speculate on Brown’s motives, but called the shuffle a “waste of resources.” Last night’s exchange between the two apparently ended quickly.

“I said, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ He said, ‘no,’ so I said ‘thank you’ and left,” said Wells. (Cheh didn't have much to say at all this morning, but LL is trying to track her down.)

Wells won’t be letting the change bother him. After the breakfast meeting, he told reporters he can create a "livable, walkable" city from any committee—even if that committee is the Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation.

Brown’s move may also give Wells another opportunity to distinguish himself from his scandal-plagued colleagues. Wells stood tall when fielding questions and said he doesn’t bend on good government or ethics—a position that's made him a lonely man on the council these days.

“I think that may make some of my colleagues very uncomfortable, but I don’t compromise on that,” said Wells.

Photo by Sasha Issenberg

  • Ernest Romero

    Hmmmmm We are proud of you MR Wells ..... what comes around goes around ... I really hope that individual will get what deserve

  • Legends


    come on tommy - you had to have seen this coming. you may be worshiped in W6, but no where else. you still gotta play the game, homeboy. wake up!

    laying off the bottle couldnt hurt either.

  • Elementary Math

    We hear you loud and clear, Kwame.

    All councilmembers must be as corrupt as you are or at least keep their mouths shut about your corruption -- or else...

    And don't any of you other CM's even think about commenting about his campaign slush funds.

    We hear you loud and clear, Kwame.

  • Truth Hurts

    Kwame's a player, using tactics he learned from "one city", Marion "got turkeys" Barry, Harry "cashier check" Thomas, Michael "online" Brown, and others.

    If only he spent as much time working on campaign and personal finances. DC politicians SUCK. White and black.

  • Chain of Fools

    Kwame...did you really think this was going to go unnoticed and that you wouldn't look like a vengeful troll? You actually are a nice man...just kind of an idiot though...sad

  • ToiletLawmakers

    Watch your back Tommy because Brown has made it clear that he's going to scratch it all up. He just grazed you this time, but trust, Brown is one catty, little raccoon. Poise yourself for another term Wells and get ready to say goodbye to your degenerate colleague as he won't be there for long. On degenerate colleagues it seems you will be hosting a farewell party for a good number of them.

  • Really?

    Please great job KB....great job! So Tommy is allowed a pass to give out $500k grants to certain folks who just happen to not only work for him, but also gave to his campaign and that's ok.

    Please. It's about time somebody stood up!

  • Chain of Fools

    @Really...you know this is not going to turn out well for KB...why do you urge him on this self-destructive path...So Tommy got momentarily smacked by KB...KB will be feeling this for a long time and probably during his sentencing...just sayin

  • DCDem

    Too much Scotch.

  • SBD

    "Taking Brown at his word"

    Why does Chairman "Fully Loaded" even DESERVE that courtesy. This corruption is transparent.

  • Hmmmm

    If the divesture of Wells’ committee was due to a "unique opportunity" to rearrange the council's committees that "effectively [consolidates] areas of similar interest,” why does the Committee on Human Services continue to have oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration? Just saying …

  • Skipper

    It's not like Wells has accomplished a great deal as a legislator (other than giving the Greater Greater Wells kids a constant erection). But he still got the shaft. And not a single colleague said a word about it. That's gotta hurt. And the poor man can't even drown his sorrows at the Tune Inn!

  • noodlez





    "Wells stood tall when fielding questions and said he doesn’t bend on good government or ethics—a position that's made him a lonely man on the council these days." YO SEWERMAN YOU GOT HIM ON RECORD NOW DEBUNK!!!

  • Mary

    Cheh is in Kwame's pocket, that makes her as corrupt as he is. Whatever Kwame wants Cheh will deliver so she can gain more power and boost her ego. Too bad neither one of them care about DC or actually helping DC. Get rid of the powerhungry.

  • La Esquina

    Lonely man on the council? Please. Just ask the black business owners of H Street how much good governance they've gotten from Wells' city financed group that organizes those night time drunk (er, I mean "shuttle) buses. Funny how that shuttle doesn't operate during the day.

    Wells' biggest accomplishment was the bag tax, and while he claimed he did it alone, that bill was co-authored and moved through the process by more than one legislator. Wells was real quick to claim sole credit for that bill once it passed though.

    As for all this good governance bs, anyone notice how all these reporters can't find anything bad to say about Cheh, so they don't say anything other than to claim she's Kwame Brown's lackey? For those keeping track, she IS one of the few councilmembers with a clean record, and unlike Tommy, she's proven an effective legislator who can get stuff done. Yeah, Kwame's probably honoring a colleague who has been loyal, but he's also put someone with a clean record and a great progressive streak in charge of transportation, the environment and public works. Folks won't be applauding Kwame Brown in six months for this decision, but wait until you see the results. I'm 100% sure that Cheh will be more effective than Tommy in that committee.

  • Mary

    Cheh does not have a clean record. She has conflicting legislation, first she gets the Tregaron Park made a tax free 13 acre park and testimony promises the District 8 house lots, 5 on Klingle Road and tax money from these 2 million dollar houses will make up for the $6.5 million property turned into a park. As soon as the Tregaron Park becomes final law in two weeks Cheh introduces and lobbies all of the Council to pass the Klingle Hike/Bike path legislation which puts the 5 house lots on a bike trail. Cheh does not remind the Council about the Tregaron legislation and the conflict. This is a bike trail of three blocks in the middle of a road that is on the Fed. and DC highway plan for over 100 years, and still is called a necessary open road. Cheh refuses to answer to this conflicting legislation, but should either build the road or end the tax free park. One ANC asked for the road to be rebuilt and no ANC asked for the hike/bike path. No bikers or group like WABA asked for the hike/bike path, so they don't care. Cheh is responding to a political debt she owes, is this good government?

  • Robin Diener

    While I realize the “Livable, Walkable Libraries” line is meant to be a joke, since you brought it up, I’d like to point out that libraries are already “walkable.” Tommy Wells won’t need to do a lot on that count.

    The District’s 24 neighborhood libraries are located no more than a mile from one another, and were each meant to serve a cluster of elementary, middle and high schools. The West End Library Friends’ user survey found that more than 80 percent of respondents got to the library by walking. Most branches are also within easy walking distance of a metro stop—which is useful for people stopping by to pick up materials on the way to and from home—but in general people are not traveling from their neighborhood to another neighborhood library. Neighborhood libraries serve… well, the neighborhood. All libraries have bike racks.

    It’s rare that Loose Lips or the media in general acknowledges the Library, even as a joke, so I urge readers to visit some of the new libraries that have been constructed on our behalf. If your own neighborhood library wasn’t one of the 14 that have received makeovers as part of the Library Transformation of the last five years, you might want to visit some located at or within a few blocks of Metro stops: Benning, Deanwood, Northwest One, Parklands-Turner, Petworth, Southeast (Eastern Market), Takoma Park, Tenley. One of my favorites is Deanwood, a model of co-location with a recreation center adjacent to a school. Visit Takoma Park to admire the award-winning renovation of a small historic building and Petworth for an equally lovely renovation of a large historic building. For a more modern take, don’t miss the Benning Library, accessible from either the Benning or Minnesota Avenue SE Metro stops.

    As for the committee reshuffling, that is no joke. Libraries Committee Chairman Muriel Bowser spent many hours on site visits to libraries, parks and recreation centers over the last months. Her dedication to mastering new information and her commitment to transparency shone throughout the performance and budget hearings. She is clearly a quick study and her office’s direct outreach to stakeholders such as the Friends of the Library was much appreciated. As a library advocate, business manager and citizen, I am appalled by this move that demeans the work put in by diligent councilmembers, and which is simply a poor management decision affecting resources that are already stretched.

    I’m for libraries, and I’m for walkability. Neither are new ideas. Nearly all of DC libraries were constructed 60 or more years ago and their walkability was built-in at that time. Well-planned library locations, and now the renewed library system, are an essential part of DC’s restoration as a livable, walkable city. And that’s no joke.

    Robin Diener
    Director, Library Renaissance Project
    1530 P Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20005

  • Mike Madden

    Thanks, Robin --

    That line was, indeed, a joke. But you don't have to remind City Paper readers about the new libraries -- we've written about them, not very long ago.