Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: D.C. Council, Now With Ethics 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!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Good morning sweet readers! [Low whistle] Seven years in federal prison for former PG County Executive Jack Johnson. Wonder if that makes the palms of any D.C. pols clammy. News time:

D.C. Council, Now With Ethics: The D.C. Council gave preliminary approval to an ethics bills yesterday that would set up a separate board of ethics and make it easier to punish corrupt pols. Despite some calls for delay, Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown intends to get some sort of ethics bill passed by the end of the year come hell or high water. Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. showed up at yesterday's hearing despite the fact that most of his colleagues wished he would go away. Thomas didn't say much and looked sad. Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells' efforts to ban campaign bundling and donations from city contractors went down in flames. Councilmember Vincent Orange grandstanded about banning outside employment. And the most interesting drama was when Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham took a hard whack (though not by name) to Councilmember David Catania. Per the Post: "During the debate, Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) questioned whether it was appropriate for David A. Catania (I-At Large) to earn $240,000 working for a company that has a major contract with the city. 'We need to have some definite proposals before us now for recusal and disclosure,' Graham said. 'When members work for companies with major D.C. contracts, questions are raised.' In August, Catania became vice president for corporate strategy for M.C. Dean, which has a contract for city streetlights. After the meeting, Catania accused Graham of trying to 'impugn his integrity' by disclosing the potential conflict. 'I think Mr. Graham, himself, is smarting from his own ethics issues and is looking to splash toward others in an attempt to direct away attention,' said Catania, an indirect reference to Graham’s former chief of staff, Ted G. Loza, who was convicted of accepting a bribe." (Actually, Loza was convicted of taking gratuities. Prepare for a nasty letter from Graham, Posties. Trust LL.)

AFTER THE JUMP: Secret Emails; Promises Promises; School Problems ...

Naughty Naughty Gandhi: District CFO Nat Gandhi, who is supposed to be the impartial bean counter who only calls balls and strikes, has used private emails for city business as a way to avoid open government laws, the Post ed board and Mike DeBonis report. The news came courtesy of depositions in the ongoing lawsuit by Eric Payne, who says Gandhi canned him for complaining about the politics involved in awarding the lucrative lotto contract. (The city says that's not true.) Gandhi "confirmed he sent and received government information and correspondence via a private e-mail account but said it happened occasionally. Among those whom he acknowledged sending such e-mails were D.C. Council members, former mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Lorraine Green, a Gray adviser." Green was also one of the partners in one of the competing lottery proposals. Does pretty much everyone in city government, including the mayor, use private emails? Yes. Should Gandhi? No.

Promises, Promises: DeBonis reports how the Washington Interfaith Network is good at getting politicians to make promises related to creating local jobs and affordable housing but bad at making them follow through with their promises. But no more says, the Rev. Jeffrey K. Krehbiel, pastor of Church of the Pilgrims in Dupont Circle: "“If we’re not seeing progress on these goals, then we will work to agitate around any subsidized project before the council.”

School Problems: Bill Turque is back, baby, with some hot news that Office of the State Superintendent of Education Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley might be a hot mess. Mahaley's problems include an alleged thieving employee, a fishy trip abroad paid for by a textbook company that sells DC textbooks, and this: "Town hall meetings the agency had planned for a bid to secure a waiver from parts of the federal No Child Left Behind Law fell apart after the public received little or no advance notice and dates conflicted with other community events. A Nov. 10 town hall at Oyster Bilingual School in Northwest Washington drew one resident. Subsequent meetings were canceled. An agency spokesman said they will be rescheduled for January."

In Other News:

  • Streetcar to cross H Street bridge after all.
  • Time to start training. A velodrome is coming.
  • Mendo makes it easier to buy guns.
  • See where your kids' charter school ranks.

Gray sked: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: Music Video Filming for Kindred the Family Soul “Going to the Go-Go” Song; 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Mayor’s Biweekly Press Briefing; 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Sheridan Station Ribbon Cutting; 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Capital Showdown Boxing Match Washington Welcome; 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.: Georgetown University Community Holiday Open House; 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Institute for Education INFO Public Policy Roundtable 20th Season Celebration at the Residence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Council sked: B19-484: The Urban Forest Administration Reorganization Act of 2011; B19-515: The Litter Prevention Amendment Act of 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

  • Just Curious

    Hmmm... Not only are D.C. officials using their private emails, but they are also using their government issued and privately obtained cell phones to conduct official business as well. Will Irv Nathan force these practices to end and/or force the officials to disclose their communications?

    Also, it is my understanding that a Council member, who doesn't look like Harry Thomas Jr., has a number of "official business" emails out there on his personal account. Some of his requests and actions appear to be illegal in nature, including a payola style request, as well as a "quid pro quo" request. I wonder if the feds will look into these communications as closely as they are examining HTJ?

    Just Curious...

    By the way, that cacophony of clicking sounds is the noise of D.C. officials deleting emails from their personal accounts. Unfortunately for them, a subpoena to their Internet Service Providers will reveal ALL emails sent or received, including deleted ones...

  • justaskin’

    @Just Curious - Does this include cell phone text messages as well?

    @Mike Madden - Double 'hmmmm'.... What happened to yesterday's LL posts and comments?

    justaskin'

  • Mike Madden

    @justaskin' --

    What are you talking about?

  • justaskin’

    @MM Calm down! Our bad. We found what we were looking for. Like we said, "just askin'!"

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