WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

D.C. Scandals Take Their Toll On City Hall

Play associated audio
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., shown here at a press conference outside city hall in June, settled the lawsuit that claimed he misused $300,000 of taxpayer funds. Now some of his colleagues are calling for him to resign.
NBC4
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., shown here at a press conference outside city hall in June, settled the lawsuit that claimed he misused $300,000 of taxpayer funds. Now some of his colleagues are calling for him to resign.

The D.C. Attorney General has accused Thomas in a civil lawsuit of misusing more than $300,000 of taxpayer money for his personal use, in the form of a luxury SUV and golf trips.

It's just the latest revelation in a year that has brought one "-gate" after another in the District government. SUV-gate. Hirringgate. Members of the D.C. media haven't yet issued a label to the accusations leveled against Thomas, but "golfgate" is one option. And the scandals are starting to take a toll at city hall.

Council member Jack Evans has been on the council for three decades. He's seen firsthand some of the city's worst scandals and low points.

And yet, it's never been this bad, he says.

"A number of colleagues are under some sort of suspicion or investigation or being charged with things. It's never been so dramatic," says Evans.

Beginning with the WAMU News report about how a few children of senior advisers to Mayor Vincent Gray landed city jobs, it's been one scandal after another. Sulaimon Brown's quid pro quo allegations against Gray. Council chairman Kwame Brown's fully-loaded SUV leased with city dollars. And the corruption allegation involving Council member Harry Thomas Jr. may be the most serious yet.

But Evans says the scandals are damaging more than the city's reputation.

The constant drumbeat of bad news and outside investigations are beginning to scare away investors on Wall Street, he says.

They also don't help D.C.'s push for voting rights and budget autonomy.

"There's no chance in the world this Congress, viewing what's happening in the city today, would move forward and allow us anymore autonomy than we already have," says Evans. "I think this has been very damaging."

For Mayor Vincent Gray, the cloud of scandals hanging over city hall these days has been both distracting, and in his mind, unfair, because some of them originated before he took office.

At his weekly press conference Wednesday, reporters got a taste of Gray's frustration.

"You ask me about how I feel about it, of course I don't feel good about it, Patrick. Why would I feel good about it?" he says. "And I feel less good about that there doesn't seem to be any balance. Are you reporting about some of the good things we are doing?"

The mayor went around room, asking that question to other reporters. He then shut down the press conference as his staff erupted in applause.

NPR

Nate Parker's Past, His Present, And The Future of 'Birth Of A Nation': Episode 14

News of a 1999 rape case against Nate Parker raises some age-old questions about culture. Can art be separated from its creator? What moral obligations, if any, do the consumers of culture bear?
NPR

Bread Grains: The Last Frontier In The Locavore Movement

Modern bakeries rely on industrial mills for their flour. But a small and growing number of bakers, chefs and pasta makers are making their own flour with the age-old method of stone milling.
WAMU 88.5

Questions About Hillary Clinton’s Newly Uncovered Emails

A federal judge orders a review of nearly fifteen thousand recently discovered Hillary Clinton emails from her time as Secretary of State. A new batch related to the Clinton Foundation was also released. Join us to discuss ongoing questions.

NPR

Instagramming In Black And White? Could Be You're Depressed

Researchers analyzed people's photo galleries on Instagram, then asked about their mental health. People who favored darker, grayer photos and filters were more likely to be depressed.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.