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October 14, 2012

The Week in Review

Dear Reviewers:

This past week provided an interesting snapshot into the District government and politics.

1) Legal proceedings in government corruption cases: on Tuesday, former council chairman Kwame Brown appeared at a hearing in District Court before Judge Richard Leon because he had violated the conditions of his presentencing release when he failed on three separate occasions to make a weekly telephone call to check in with the Pretrial Services Agency. Judge Leon, noting that Brown was just five weeks away from appearing before him for sentencing on November 13, lectured Brown (“You don’t want to know the consequences of failing to comply”) pointed his finger at him, and then required Brown to report in person, and not by telephone, in future weeks. On Wednesday, Vincent Gray campaign worker Howard Brooks was sentenced to two years probation by US District Court Judge Kollar-Kotelly for his role in making secret campaign payments to mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown in 2010, and then for initially lying to federal investigators.

2) Office of the Chief Financial Officer: on Tuesday, the Washington Post published a lengthy article by Debbie Cenziper ( detailing “significant security lapses in the Office of Tax and Revenue.” The article references numerous audit reports that “describe a tax operation that has ‘inadequate controls’ and a lack of ‘management oversight,’ and that is ‘vulnerable to undetected errors, manipulation, and fraud.’” On Wednesday, the council Committee on Finance and Revenue had a public oversight hearing on the operations of the OCF, at which Committee Chairman Jack Evans and committee members attempted to grill Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, whom they had approved to a new five-year term in July. Councilmembers showed the seriousness with which they regarded the issues, by recessing the hearing for five hours so that Evans and other councilmembers could attend the Washington Nationals playoff game.

3) Councilmember Michael Brown: on Tuesday, Jeanett P. Henry, an attorney for the Reelect Michael Brown Committee, issued the following statement on behalf of the Brown campaign, “The United States Attorney’s Office confirmed that Michael Brown is not a target of the investigation [into the $114,000 missing from his campaign fund].” Questions have been raised about Ms. Henry’s announcement, since the US Attorney does not normally issue such a statement, and to date the US Attorney’s Office has not confirmed Ms. Henry’s press release. In an interview on WTOP, MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier indicated that the investigation is still ongoing.

4) Councilmember Jim Graham: on October 11, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released the long-awaited report prepared by the law firm of Cadwalader, Wichersham, and Taft detailing how Councilmember Jim Graham, when he was serving as a member of the WMATA Board of Director, violated WMATA’s standards of conduct by offering to support Warren Williams’ bid to become the minority partner in a contract to run the DC Lottery in exchange for Williams’ not pursuing Banneker Venture’s plans to develop a Florida Avenue site owned by Metro. (Cadwalader’s complete report to WMATA has been posted by the Washington Examiner, Since Graham is no longer a member of the WMATA Board, the report will not be likely to lead to any consequences for him, but he is still a member of the DC council, and Colbert King has urged the council to take action on WMATA’s findings,

5) Checking the books on capital projects: on Friday, Muriel Bowser’s Government Operations Committee held an oversight roundtable on “change orders” related to school modernization construction contracts. The specific focus of the hearing was on the joint venture company EEC of DC and Forrester Construction, and on their joint venture to renovate Anacostia High School. The joint venture between the two companies was awarded the contract because EEC of DC claimed to be a minority DC-based company that supposedly would be responsible for 51 percent of the project. But the bid information was false and fraudulent. EEC of DC actually has its main office in Maryland, and only a small DC office, and EEC never had a majority interest in the project; Forrester controlled and managed the project totally; it had total control of the bank accounts, hired subcontractors unilaterally, maintained all records and books for the project, and held 100 percent of the bonding. The hearing, as well as an attendant civil lawsuit, raise the question of whether the District is awarding contracts to large construction companies that falsely claim to have partnered with District CBE’s (certified business enterprises that have been certified by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development). On Wednesday, the mayor will hold a press conference to propose administrative and legislative changes to DC’s CBE law.

Gary Imhoff, and
Dorothy Brizill,


Is Anyone Asking, Why David Alpert?
Karl Jeremy,

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells chose David as a member of their task force on speed camera fines; DDOT Parking Manager Angelo Rao co-hosted a live chat on the outcome of the Parking Think Tanks with David; and Harriet Tregoning joined forces with David to further the benefits of smart growth versus good planning practices.

David’s GGW blog [] is the main link to the Millennials, who the Pew Research Center brand as the “American teens and twenty-somethings currently making the passage into adulthood. Like other generations, they have begun to forge their personality: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living.”

The city’s decision makers have turned to a blogger to help forge partnerships with this young group of followers, and to lead them in the direction of poor decision making. Gracious streets have become clogged with bike lanes, bus shelters are lit up with advertising, and national parkland is threatened with children’s play equipment. David’s followers, Oboe, Goldfish and Hogwash, to name a few, express themselves by routinely mocking anyone with differing opinions. And, even the City Paper’s Housing Complex newbie, Aaron Wiener, has adopted his predecessor’s disrespectful tone.

The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here. They’ve moved on to the sounds of a different piper, faraway places, and fun and games. They really didn’t care about the future of Washington, they cared about good times and easy living for themselves.


Randy Alan Weiss,

Gary’s posting today [themail, October 10], commenting upon Dorothy’s “matter of fact” summary about how judges are way too lenient on politicians was interesting. However, remember that in the District of Columbia, our judiciary is a reflection of politicians. A local committee recommends three nominees to the President of the United States and the President appoints the judges after vetting by the Senate of the United States. There is no local process attached to the mayor nor the council. It would seem like a much better process than, say, in Texas, where the judiciary campaigns for appointment or Maryland where the judges are appointed by the governor. My point is that one would think that would be far enough removed from the “local connection process” to secure a thoughtful, independent, fair and strong judiciary. For political corruption cases, apparently not.


InTowner October Issue Content Now Uploaded
P.J. Wolff,

The October issue content is now posted at, including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories, community news, letters to the editor, and museum exhibition reviews — plus all photos and other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page are the new What Once Was feature (this month all about the federal government’s very first executive office buildings), which has succeeded the long-running Scenes from the Past, as well as Recent Real Estate Sales, Reservations Recommended, and Food in the ‘Hood.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “Corcoran Gallery Building Abandonment and Sale May be Derailed by Interior Landmark Nomination Filing with City”; 2) “Adams Morgan Hotel Zoning Hearings Continue; Traffic Impact Revealed as Major Problem”; 3) “St. Thomas’ New Church Building Plan May be Scrapped; Partnering With a Developer Offered as Possible Solution.” Our editorial this month focuses on our election day endorsements (“From the Publisher’s Desk”). Your thoughts are welcome and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web page or by E-mail to

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of November 9 (the second Friday of the month, as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.



Ward 3 Democratic Committee Forum for Council Chair and At-Large Council Candidates, October 18
Shelley Tomkin,

On Thursday, October 18, at 7:00 p.m., the Ward Three Democratic Committee will hold a forum for candidates for DC Council Chair and two At-Large Council seats that will be contested in the November 6 general election. The forum will be held at the St. Columba’s Episcopal Church at 4201 Albemarle Street, NW, in the Great Hall.

Confirmed Council Chair candidates include Phil Mendelson and Calvin H. Gurley. Confirmed At-Large Council Candidates include Mary Brooks Beatty, Michael A. Brown, A. J. Cooper, David Grosso, and Ann C. Wilcox. Vincent Orange and Leon J. Swain, Jr., have also been invited to participate.


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