D.C. City Council Crisis and Chaos

As the dust settles in Washington, DC after former Council Chairman Kwame Brown pleaded guilty for fraud, a new chairman has been elected and all is well in the District’s politics. So they think. During yesterday’s election of Phil Mendelson and Michael Brown as chairman and council pro tempore respectively, Marion Barry made the comment “We are the laughingstock of the nation.” With the irony of this comment being made by a man who was convicted for tax offenses in addition to being arrested for smoking crack in 1990, one cannot help but laugh at this crisis-turned-reality-TV-show moment that DC politics is current having. Did I mention that Barry’s drug charges were while he was still mayor? Believe me; they had one long episode this week.  What strikes me as particularly interesting is the council’s failure to properly manage the crisis. No statement and certainly no reassurance that this corruption will not keep occurring in Washington DC city government has been given.

Here are some tips for my dear city council:

Say Something

Make a statement with a credible spokesperson. Now that Phil Mendelson has been voted chairman, a statement should be released directly addressing the issue of corruption in DC politics and especially in DC City Council. Many people are just waiting to see who is next to go down during this ongoing probe into city corruption.

Keep your composure

Grandma always said not to let the public know any disarray happening on the inside, and as usual she was right. In politics and especially in crisis, don’t let the public see internal flaws. Bickering at a City Council meeting? Yelling, screaming and crying? That is certainly not the best image to portray during an open meeting when an entire country’s eyes are on you. The rules of order are in place to avoid chaos and those clearly went out the window during Wednesday’s 100 minute session. I applaud the council for it’s transparency in having an open meeting, however, they could have debated in a better manner.


Provide reassurance by outlining processes that are being created or reevaluated to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. In a short six months, DC politics has faced striking blows with two council members and two campaign aides for Vincent Gray pleading guilty to charges involving all involving money. The chaotic council session provided no sense of security either. Instead, the council session makes DC politics look unstable and makes me question their ability to run a local government.

These 3 simple steps can help bring some sense of security back to DC residents. It’s bad enough we aren’t fully represented in Congress and the little representation we do have is not serving us well.

What are your thoughts on how DC can better manage its crisis?


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