Loose Lips

And Thus Begins the Mendo Era?

If D.C. Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown resigns this week over federal fraud charges, as a source tells LL he will do, the city's Home Rule Charter provides a mechanism to replace him, and it's somewhat complicated.

If the chairman’s seat becomes empty, councilmembers select one of the four at-large members as a temporary replacement and another as chairman pro tempore. A special election would be held on Nov. 6, the date of the next general election. That means the chairman until then could be one of four people: Phil Mendelson, Vincent Orange, Michael A. Brown, or David Catania. Neither Catania nor Orange is overwhelmingly popular with colleagues; Brown has occasionally indicated that he'd like to be mayor one day, and the District's pols are unlikely to want to give him a boost by putting him in the city's second highest-ranking office until November. (Not to mention that the chairman would become mayor if Mayor Vince Gray were to wind up leaving office early for any reason.)

Which leaves Mendo in charge.

Considered D.C.'s most boring politician, the wonky Mendelson was first elected in 1998. He chairs the council's public safety committee, and also represents the District on two regional planning boards. He got his start in D.C. politics in a 1975 fight to block a plan to tear down the McLean Gardens condo and apartment complex along Wisconsin Avenue NW in order to build a series of embassies on the site; Mendelson's side won that battle, and the embassy complex is in Van Ness now. In 1979, Mendelson won a seat on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that represents McLean Gardens, which he held until he ran for D.C. Council 19 years later.

Just how unknown is Mendelson to the city at large, 14 years after he first represented all of it? When he ran for re-election two years ago, his rival was Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown, which alarmed his colleagues (who generally like him) because they feared he'd lose if voters thought he was running against fellow Councilmember Michael A. Brown. In the end, he managed to win despite the name confusion.

Correction: Due to, well, name confusion, this post originally confused the Michael Browns. Also, it misidentified Michael D. Brown's office; he is shadow senator, not shadow representative.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Hillman

    Sweet Baby Jesus, no.

    Mendo is one of the main reasons our criminal justice system is so messed up.

    He refuses to allow reform of the juvenile justice system, and he never met an idiotic half-baked uber liberal 'good kids gone bad' argument that he couldn't fall in love with, despite decades of proof this crap doesn't work.

    And he has fought forever against even basic anti=loitering laws of even the weakest kind, implemented in only the most dire situations.

    Mendo is seriously useless. Worse than useless.

  • Mary-Austin

    Out of those options he seems to be the best choice until the election.
    At least he seems to be an ethical man and that goes a long ways these days.

  • DF

    After 12 years living in D.C., I'm starting to like my recent decision to move to Chevy Chase. And totally off subject, but what's the deal with all the dumb construction on Wisconsin around Glover Park? Who made that call?

  • Name

    Mendo plays both sides of the river.

  • Bert

    If Phil M. becomes interim Council chair and Gray resigns, then it will be Mayor Mendo.

  • Jim

    Will there eventually be a special election to fill the seat or will the Council's selection serve out the remainder of the term?

  • Jim

    Oops, nevermind. I ought to read more carefully.

  • Truth hurts

    Mendo is honest, his heart is in the right place, and that, in my view, makes him the best choice to shepard the city through this historically shameful crisis. Soon, Gray will be indicted and be forced to resign. And Mendo will temporarily have to assume the role of mayor. Again, he's a decent and trustworthy man, so we have reason to hope for better days.

  • watchingtoo

    DC has had its glory days in the 70's and 80's. It is gone now. Glory days consisted of blacks and the civil rights era. No need to live around miserable idiots who now live in DC. The tone will now change in DC to far worse than it as ever been.

  • Typical DC BS

    Mendo is fine as a caretaker, but he must go. He's a soft-headed liberal whose time is past. Bring back Mayor Williams! He was competent and honest, with some brains and backbone to boot!

    Although, dear God, if we really want to shake up DC, it may be noodlez time.

  • Hillman

    I would kill several kittens if I thought it would help get Anthony Williams back as Mayor.

  • Hillman

    "DC has had its glory days in the 70's and 80's. "


    You're yanking our chain here, yes?

  • http://Www.glaaforum.org Rick Rosendall

    Everybody please relax. This is a great city with some sleazy politicians, but also some hard working public servants. You should be more concerned with how the Republicans are trying to wreck the country. Chairman Brown's resignation is a sign that the system works. Mendo is a good guy. Don't count Vince Gray out just yet either.

  • Kathy8

    Aside from which at-large members are liked by their council colleagues, Catania and Michael Brown are legally independents. Would the Democratic majority of council members REALLY appoint someone who isn't a Democrat as interim chairman of the council?

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  • KeepinItReal

    It was Vincent Orange that, as candidate for Council Chair against Kwame Brown, that got the ball rolling on Brown's questionable campaign finances.

    You cannot hold an outside job and serve as Council Chair so that limits those who qualify to Vincent Orange and Phil Mendelson.

    I'm going with Orange as I supported him when he was running for Council Chair. If he hadn't raised the red flag, Kwame may well have still have had the wool over everyones eyes.

  • Anonymous, Too

    Unless I'm missing something, there is nothing in the Home Rule Charter that stipulates party affiliation:

    "While the Chairman is Acting Mayor, the Council shall select one of the elected at-large members of the Council to serve as Chairman and one to serve as chairman pro tempore, until the return of the regularly elected Chairman."

  • KeepinItReal

    They also cannot have a job outside of the Council.

  • Ward 5 res

    VO can hang it up NOW! He is the reason Kwame was elected! THAT'S how much this city DOESN'T want HIM. Kwames win was the same as Vince, a vote AGAINST the other guy. Let's not forget that VO TOO is under investigation and may soon be in the same boat/jail as Tommy, Kwame and maybe Vince. Just because he snitched to try and win doesn't mean he should hold office. He better hurry up and hire Fred Cook instead of begging for the Chair.

  • watchdogdc

    If Mendo takes over hopefully his first ordr of buisness will be to replace the current FEMS Administrator who has proven himself to be unethical and of moral character time and time again. And lets not forget the bold face lies he told Mr. Mendelson while under oath about the Fire Resistant articles of clothing he ordered not to be handed out which could have reduced burn injuries to the Firefighters who battled an arson fire on 48TH PL. NE.