Loose Lips

Chairman Mendo?

Last week, LL reported that federal prosecutors had empaneled a grand jury to look into the finances of D.C. Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign. Ever since accounting irregularities first surfaced in a July Board of Elections and Ethics report, Brown has denied any wrongdoing. He’s also not been charged with any crimes.

But that hasn’t stopped several of Brown’s colleagues from having hush-hush talks about who would replace him. None of the participants will discuss this on the record, but they’re informally game-playing various scenarios that could unfold if Brown winds up in prosecutors’ crosshairs.

So what’s the current conventional wisdom’s pick to fill a void? Drumroll please: at-large Councilmember Phil Mendelson.

That’s right, the former council aide—even after he won his seat, he was derided as “Staffer Phil” by those who thought his persnickety style was unbecoming of a full-fledged councilmember—could become the District’s second most powerful elected official.

Under District law, if the chairman’s seat becomes empty, councilmembers select one of the four at-large members as a temporary replacement. The temp would likely enjoy a boost of publicity and power. Which would, in turn, help his (there are no female at-large members) chances in the ensuing election.

Mendelson’s seen as the most palatable pick by process of elimination, according to Wilson Building wags. Councilmembers Michael Brown and Vincent Orange have already made their mayoral ambitions clear, making it unlikely that any potential rivals on the council would want to give them a leg up. The sharp-tongued David Catania has too many enemies to have a chance.

That leaves the inoffensive, not overly ambitious Mendelson.

This is all, of course, a somewhat silly exercise in what-ifs. But the fact that Brown’s colleagues are already picking winners of a nonexistent vacant-seat scramble is noteworthy in and of itself. CP

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Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

  • Skipper

    That's awesome! We'd go from a wanna-be napolean to a eunuch!

  • DC Guy

    Can we bring back the Control Board?

  • NE John

    Mayor Orange? What? You have got to be kidding.

    And smelly Michael Brown will be the next one railroaded out of here.

  • skinsfan83

    Chairman Mendleson? he is the dryest human being I have ever met. Literally has no personality. What has he honestly done for the city?

    I say we just sell DC back to MD/VA. No one is fit for Mayor of this city.

  • caramel city

    Mendo will do a great job! Peanut butter and honey samiches on multigrain for everyone!!!

    As long as that liquored up girlman Catania continues to diss black male councilmenbers he will continue to diminish.

    Start wapo anti-fully loaded editorials . . .

  • Bob

    Phil's a work horse who focuses on a lot of nerdy, non-headline grabbing, but still important issues. More importantly, he's honest to a fault. He also runs well in various wards in the city. Just the sort of stabilizing presence after the ethical challenges facing the Council.

  • Tom

    He would be an excellent Council Chair. We need someone who doesnt want to be a "balla" or "hip hop icon". We need a boring down to business chairman of this council

  • skinsfan83

    @Tom speak for yourself dude. Im tired of the old boring political figures in the city. Mendelson has to be the epitome of boring. Why would a city growing as fast as DC would want someone who is that banal?