Loose Lips

Wells Says No to Water Board Pick

Ward 6 Councilmartyr and almost mayoral candidate Saint Tommy Wells says he'll be voting against lobbyist Rod Woodson's nomination to the D.C. Water board of directors.

The move isn't much of a surprise, as Wells put a delay on Woodson's nomination late last month over concerns about a potential conflict of interest stemming from Woodson's representation of a D.C. Water construction contractor.

Wells says he's met with Woodson in the days since asking for the delay and has made up his mind not to support the nomination. Wells says Woodson's position as a partner at Holland & Knight, a heavy-hitting law firm on city development and land use issues, makes him an unacceptable to choice to sit on a board that sets water rates for both residential and commercial customers.

"I do not see how a partner at Holland & Knight isn't business at usual," Wells says. "He should not be setting rates for businesses."

Wells added that proposing such a plugged-in power player for the water board is another example of the District government's "tin ear" on ethics issues. But whether Wells will have the votes to stop Woodson's nomination is still an open question. Woodson enjoys broad support among lawmakers at the Wilson Building. He's one of Mayor Vince Gray's favorite lobbyists and has been the chairman of Councilmember David Catania's last two campaigns.

Labor officials plan on lobbying elected officials today to block Woodson's nomination. Their opposition is based, in large part, on Woodson's past lobbying on behalf of construction companies trying to undo the District's First Source laws, which aim at increasing the number of District residents on publicly financed construction jobs. Jos Williams, head of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, says Woodson has made "his stance against District workers abundantly clear."

Digging a bit deeper, union officials are sore at Woodson for lobbying on behalf of concrete construction giant Miller & Long, whose owners have long been staunchly anti-union. One labor official says part of the pitch against Woodson might include highlighting the works of Miller & Long's Brett McMahon (son of the company's chairman John McMahon). McMahon has been a frequent critic of the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama; he's the spokesman for a website that referred to Obama as "Monsieur Presidente" and assails his record on the economy. McMahon also told attendees at a Conservative Political Action Conference that Miller & Long was "vehemently" against unions, boasted about putting the carpenters' union out of business, and urged anti-union proponents to be creative when trying to undermine union influence.

Woodson tells LL he doesn't advise Miller & Long on its political views, which he notes have nothing to do with setting water rates. In a letter to the council, Woodson downplayed any potential conflict of interests and highlighted his past work as chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board: "I offer a pledge to the mayor, the Council, and my fellow citizens and ratepayers that as a member of the board of DC Water I will take care of our collective best interests."

The council is set to vote on Woodson's nomination tomorrow.

  • local cynic

    Tommy Wells doesn't think business has any role but labor unions can run the show?
    Check Wells fundraising reports for the contributions he gets from labor. He is firmly in their pocket, constantly at their beck and call. Forget the public good. Wells is bought and paid for.
    Once he outlaws corporate political contributions, the unions will give him all the money he needs.

  • Name

    I'm not sure how to synch this with the Morning Clicks link where "he [Wells] supports Mayor Vince Gray's agenda 100 percent".

    Doesn't sound like he supports Gray's Agenda 100%. Maybe more nuanced reporting is necessary.

  • DcNative

    Wells is the biggest hypocrite on the council!

  • Name

    Wells certainly isn't the worst person on the Council. That still doesn't mean I wouldn't rather see him as an At-large or a Council Chair.

    He's got all that dip-shitty social welfare, cry my eyes out, BS, but at least he's got a vision for the city that I largely agree with. His problem is he's got the spine of a garden worm and the executive experience of a 3rd grader. If he can't get the alley's repaved in his own ward, how is he going to manage an entire city?

  • cminus

    I'm always impressed how many different people hate Tommy Wells, and how the reasons they give for hating him are totally incompatible with the reasons other people give. Apparently he wants to drive poor people out of DC while also supporting huge increases in the social services budget so the city can keep them here, and is simultaneously wholly beholden to both the SEIU and their archenemies in the hospitality industry.

  • SEis4ME

    Maybe Wells can get his fellow CM's to support him on this?

    Oh wait, I forgot! If he doesn't, it'll only show that he's the principled one in the room.

    No wait!

    If he does, it'll show that they're principled like him.

    Blah Blah Blah.

    Tommy Wells can kick rocks! He and his grandstanding and his pimping and everything else that makes him a poor choice for Mayor.

  • Typical DC BS

    Wells does a half-assed job on the committee responsibilities he has now, at best. As @name noted above, his soft on crime, spineless attitude toward criminals just shows he cannot be trusted to make hard or difficult decisions.

  • DC=DistrictofCorruption

    Tommy Wells is a hypocrite, but he fancies himself as a politician. You see, he has conned the bunch of our current, lazy and short-sighted Black elected officials into thinking that he supports them and their "uplifting the poor, black agenda," just enough -- Gray v. Fenty -- to get inside Kwame and Gray's campaign organizations, find their weak areas, and their dirt, and then leak it to the even lazier press, which triggers the investigations by the US Attorney's Office, etc., all while Wells is being touted as the saint. All he wants is a few votes from across the river, and he is sitting in the mayoral chair. Don't worry Wards 2 and 3, he won't be so anti-business once he's in; he'll be the mayor for you. Wake up, DC black voters. Wells is not advocating for you; he's promoting himself. He is ambitious.

  • Ward 5 res

    Why should a lobbyist be but on the DC Water Board? Someone who has lobbied against pushing for DC residents to be used on DC projects is the right choice for DC water? Maybe we could actually cut our unemployment rate in the city by hiring DC residents for projects we tax payers are funding.