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WaPo's McCartney: On Harry Thomas Jr., Sulaimon Brown, And Mayor Gray's Agenda

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Will Harry Thomas be vindicated?

The District's Attorney General announced a civil lawsuit against councilman Harry Thomas Jr., accusing him of misusing more than $300,000 of city money. The money, which was designated for a youth baseball program, allegedly went to a luxury car and golf trips for Thomas's personal use.

Thomas has denied the charges, but, as McCartney points out, has done little to back up those denials.

"He said he was going to clear his name, but there was no detailed rebuttal, no evidence offered to kind of refute any of it," McCartney says.

"The allegations in the court filing were very detailed," he adds. "There were dollar figures, specific examples."

Congress's reaction to scandals

Veteran Council member Jack Evans told WAMU this week that the rash of scandals are the worst he's seen during his 30-year tenure on the council, and he warned that the District will be hard pressed to be taken seriously by Congress or anyone else.

"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."

McCartney says he actually would have expected to see Congress being more vocal on the scandals thus far. "I've been shocked at how little intervention and meddling there's been from Congress," he says. "House Republicanss did cut off public funding for abortions for low income women in District, but there's been nothing on gun control, same sex marriage, marijuana."

Still, "no one wants to give more authority to the district gov when it's in a shambles like this," he says.

Mayor Gray growing frustrated by scandals

McCartney describes Mayor Vincent Gray as "sort of ducking it all" when it comes to the scandals, adding, "He keeps insisting that he wants the U.S. attorney to finish the investigation quickly so he can get back to governing the city."

Gray's frustration came to a head during a press briefing June 8, in which he challenged reporters on why they weren't spending more time reporting on "some of the good things that we're doing."

"He's not helping himself at all by how he' not pushing a substantive agenda," McCartney says. Apart from spending time on the budget, on the significant issues, the ones that won him his position as mayor: jobs, and education reform, there've been no major initiatives."

Gray hasn't given the public anything to "get excited about," McCartney adds. "Kaya Henderson, the new chancellor of D.C. schools hasn't been confirmed yet, and he hasn't even replaced his chief of staff. There's nothing to get people thinking about what he's doing for the city rather than all the ethical problems."

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