Kwame Looks to Wells For Answers on Occupy Protests (Updated)
In yet another sign that D.C. officials have no real clue how to handle the Occupy D.C. protests at McPherson Square, Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown has asked one of his colleagues to plan some possible ways to better manage the demonstration, which has been going on for four months. (Due to an editing error, this post originally reported Brown was looking into ending the protests.)
Brown sent a letter to Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells last week asking Wells, in his capacity as chairman of the council's Committee on Library, Parks, Recreation, and Planning, to "provide the council with a briefing on the status" of the McPherson protest as well as "recommendations for action, if necessary."
Mayor Vince Gray recently asked the National Park Service to evict protestors from McPherson because of concerns that the park is becoming overly occupied by rats.
You'll note that the mayor addressed his concerns to the Park Service, which actually controls McPherson Square. As chairman of the D.C. Council's park committee, Wells controls the District's parks, not the parks that sit on federal land, as McPherson does. Wells has as much oversight over McPherson Square as he does over Yellowstone National Park—which is to say none. The District's health department and its police department have both been involved with the protests, but as you can tell from the name of Wells' committee, he doesn't have oversight of those departments.
When asked why Brown's letter was sent to Wells, Brown's spokeswoman Karen Sibert responded via email: "Major issue. CM Wells chairs committee on parks."
It's worth noting that this isn't the first time that Brown has given Wells homework. After Wells investigated Brown's request for a fully loaded Lincoln Navigator, a council source says Brown asked Wells to organize a briefing on Metro—just straight up Metro. According to the same council wag, no other councilmember has been given these type of assignments. Of course, Brown didn't strip any other councilmembers of their committees either.
Update: Brown called LL just after this post was originally published. The chairman says his support of the Occupy protestors is still strong and he has no desire to see them evicted. Still, "I would love to know what the end game is," Brown says.
As for Wells, Brown says he thought Wells was the right person to ask because 1) Wells heads the the parks committee and 2) Wells is the council rep on the National Capital Planning Commission. (The commission is the federal government’s planning agency for the capital region, but wouldn't have any say in whether to kick out the Occupy protestors.) Brown adds that there was no other agenda in asking Wells for the briefing.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery