CM Tommy Wells Removed from his Chairmanship of the Committee on Public Works & Transportation

by Prince Of Petworth July 13, 2011 at 10:30 am 108 Comments

Photo by flickr user thisisbossi

Dear PoP,

I’m surprised you haven’t reported on this already.

I am infuriated by our current leaders’ corruption. Council Chair Kwame Brown is removing Councilman Tommy Wells from his Chairmanship of the Committee on Public Works & Transportation and the metro board. This sort of demotion is unprecedented in DC.

Tommy Wells has been outspoken in fighting for improved bike lanes in the Committee. He criticized DC’s DOT for potentially cancelling the L/M St bike lane plans recently–and asked why they’re prioritizing suburbanites over a transportation route for many DC residents. A leadership replacement would further delay any bike infrastructure plans.

Also, Tommy Wells’ committee reported on Brown’s leasing of two fully-loaded luxury SUVs this year ($24,000/yr for each one–we pay for them). It was Wells’ committee’s responsibility to investigate this. Did he really expect Wells to lie for him and try to hide it?

Either Kwame is worried my bike lane is too intrusive–he needs extra room to get down the road with his black-on-black SUV and the gray-on-gray at the same time. Or he’s sending a message to his Council–speak out against Kwame and his corruption and you’ll be stripped of your power.

The shameful acts just don’t end. Tommy needs to stay. Kwame needs to go.

Please let readers know they can contact DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown (kbrown@dccouncil.us) and urge him to change his mind–or the rest of the City Council so they can tell him he’s gone too far.

Also, on L/M St bike lanes–Tommy Wells said that they may be cancelled.”

  • whoa_now

    This was not a good day for DC. yes, it wasn’t the end of the world, but not a good sign for DC going forward. I hate politics.

    How many scandals are currently going on with the council?

    • Native American JD in DC

      Recall Brown and associates.

      Don’t complain, do.

    • Jack Momma

      Forget bike lanes, keeping bikers in the street is a bad move. They should expand sidewalks and bike paths, the way things are meant to be… There’s no way putting a bike at 25MPH- in a road with cars at 25MPH+ was a wise decision. This isn’t China, where most people don’t file law suits and insurance claims. One of the reasons why I’m glad Fenty is out is hope that the silly and vague pedestrian and biker rules come to an end. I am also an avid bicyclist mind you.

      • iowan

        nope, much better to put a 25MPH bike on the sidewalk with a 3MPH (or less) pedestrian.

  • caballero

    I already sent an e-mail to Mr. Brown.

  • EB

    I also sent Brown a strongly worded email. tellkwamebrown@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to the third world city of Washington, DC. The capital of the free world, where corruption is rampant just like Nigeria.

    • elcal

      yep, corruption fueled by petro dollars pumped in by oil companies in the ‘developed’ world.

      i didn’t know corruption was solely owned by the third world.

      • Anonymous

        Have you seen his truck? (joke for those thickheaded individuals)

      • Bongo

        And we are surprised Congress treads on us?… DC= a bannana republic.

  • Tres

    Kwame’s an even smaller man than we thought. Le sigh. I’m not sure the payback is worth the bad press he’s getting on this.

  • Dan

    Yesterday called, it wants its big news story back.

  • Anon

    Kwame Brown only cares about cars, drivers, and fully-loaded SUVs that cost more than most people’s apartments. He’s under investigation by the FBI and the IRS for his illegal fundraising activities in 2008. Tommy Wells, on the other hand, is one of the very few members of council not currently facing ethics inquiries. The next vehicle Kwame Brown ought to ride in is the prison van that hauls his crooked, no-good, lying, stealing ass to a federal penitentiary.

    I hate the argument, because if it really were applied fairly the entire south would lose its representation for the assholes they vote for, but it’s people like Kwame Brown that make people say DC doesn’t deserve the vote.

  • cliff

    I’m not a fan of bike lanes, in fact I hate them with a passion. I just don’t want to run one of them over. And the bikers get a little aggressive, as if they have bumpers and signal lights. Don’t even get me started on the silly a$$ ones that think it’s a good idea to ride down Rock Creek Parkway on the MAIN LANES!

    Having said that…

    The corruption in DC by the city council is AMAZING! You just couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s as if getting elected gets you a personal trough.

    • Anonymous

      Try getting off your fat ass and riding a bike occasionally. Your perspective might change.

      • x

        anonymous is clearly one of those ‘aggressive’ bikers… don’t be a kwame (as in, douche)

      • Biker frustrated by (some) bikers

        I take my thin ass out all the time on my bike and, although cliff’s approach is pretty heavy-handed IMO, he’s certainly not wrong – about *some* of them.

      • cliff

        Takes a brave man/woman to hide behind annonymous.

        • er

          As opposed to the well-known and easily identifiable “cliff on the internet”? Good for you.

        • Dave C.

          I understand your frustration with “aggressive bikers”, but you need to think in the big picture — one characteristic of a smart, sustainable, thriving city is having multiple transportation options, including extended bike paths. The more transportation options that individuals have to choose from, the less congestion there will be on any given transportation route. DC is getting better with this, but ever so slowly. As the urban infill takes place, streets are getting more and more congested. Bikers think they deserve being on the streets and so do drivers which ultimately results in “aggressive bikers” AND “aggressive drivers.”

          • Tim


    • Kim

      I’m not sure I follow your logic. A lot of people are going to bike regardless of whether or not there are bike lanes. Wouldn’t the bike lanes mean there would be less of a chance of you running a cyclist over, seeing as they would have their own lane?

      And of course there are some aggressive cyclists, just like there are some aggressive drivers and some aggressive (or perhaps just completely unaware) pedestrians. I personally have experienced more aggressive drivers than cyclists, but YMMV.

      • TaylorStreetMan


      • Tres


    • pwedz

      I dislike aggressive drivers with a passion.

      and FYI – cyclists have a right to a lane of traffic in the district.

    • EB


      Agreed on DC Council’s corruption. Can’t keep count of all the scandals this year. And the mayor wants to INCREASE DC executives salary cap from $179,000 to $279,00??

      On bike lanes…If you don’t like bicyclists biking on the main road with cars, you should actually support bike lanes–then bikers are in a designated lane off to the side of the road rather than riding in the main road with cars. Most bicyclists don’t like it when a bike lane disappears and they have to bike on the main road–and would prefer to have a designated bike lane.

    • Jaynuze

      It’s funny, our biking group was held up by auto traffic in Rock Creek for about a mile last Wednesday. We generally go through the park at about 27 – 30 mph; though it’s amazing how quickly some of the other cars travel through there. Anything above 30 mph in most areas of the park is fairly unsafe do to all the blind curves and narrow lanes. Just a suggestion, sit back and enjoy the drive. The scenery is absolutely beautiful back there. So you arrive 5 minutes later than you would have w/o those “pesky” bikers … chill out, we’re all sharing the same city.

      • Bongo

        The speed limit is 25mph in Rock Creek.
        CARS OR BIKES.

        • Kyle W

          You cant be serious. Beach Drive and Piney Branch are both quite ridiculous at 25. These should both be 30 MPH. The only thing keeping Beach at 25, (and likely PB as well) is the one really sharp turn. Other than that, both hands on the wheel, get off the cellphone and drive.

    • SJHNDC


  • Anon

    I’m sick of all the bike lanes popping up, too many people refuse to use them and snarl traffic on other streets (see 15th St. dedicated bike lanes vs. the ridiculous number of bikers on 16th St.). So if this means less of them, then good.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sick of bike lanes but I have to agree about your point about 16th vs. 15th street. It boggles my mind. Why do people bike down 16th and (especially) 14th when the bike lanes are on 15th?

      • M

        There are bike lanes on 14th street too. If you’re talking about 14th street further north (between DCUSA and 14th street), there is no bike lane on 15th st paralleling that stretch. 14th is the safest way to go, unless you go all the way over to 11th.

        • M

          Sorry, I meant 14th between DCUSA and U st.

          • MSF

            Bike lane stretches all the way to Columbus Circle is it? I can never keep them all straight. Down to Massachusetts.

          • Anonymous

            There are bike lanes between U st. and DCUSA on 15th st., one on each side of the street. Wasn’t aware there were bike lines on 14th st. though.

      • Anonymous

        There are bike lanes on 14th.

    • elcal

      Plenty of people use the 15th Street lane, they’re usually 5-6 deep at the lights at rush hour.

      • Anon

        But lots of people don’t. That’s the problem. If we want bike lanes everywhere, some major streets (such as 16th St where there is a parallel lane on 15th) should be off limits to bikers to travel more than one block. It just makes sense. I mean, you can’t drive the wrong way down a one way street, you have to go a block over and take the next street. It’s an inconvenience, but it makes the most sense for safety and traffic.

        • anon

          I so agree with this. Major traffic arteries like 16th should be no biker roads, esp since there are dedicated lanes on 14th and 15th.

          • Dan

            I agree. People shouldn’t bike on 16th. Lets stop bikers on 16th. As a compromise, lets propose no cars at all on 11th street from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. The cars can use 7th, 9th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15, and 16th to get through town. Bikers can use 11th. Seems like a nice compromise.

        • LisaT

          Cyclists ride bicycles. Bikers ride Harleys. Just sayin’. :p

    • Kim

      Again, I’m not sure I follow your logic. Some people refuse to use existing bike lanes, so that means we shouldn’t have more bike lanes? Wouldn’t putting in more bike lanes mean more people would use them? I doubt people go out of their way to not use a bike lane.

  • Anonymous

    I hope everybody doesn’t forget their outrage when the recall efforts for both Brown and Gray get started. I for one will be pounding the pavement to collect as many signatures/votes as possible to unseat both asshats.

    • elcal

      But this is all yesterday’s news, so why should we care?

      • TaylorStreetMan

        Nice use of the comma! :-)

        • elcal

          Unlike the loser I’m sarcastically referring to.

          • TaylorStreetMan


          • elcal

            Or, rather, “to whom I’m sarcastically referring.”

    • Bob


      you can start an online petition for free.

      • ess

        but it’s not going to be a legally valid petition for a recall election.

  • KenyonDweller

    Kwame Brown should be impeached.

  • SF

    I called Brown’s office yesterday morning when news of this started to break. A staffer took my comments.

    4 hours later Wells was removed from his Chairmanship. It’s utterly discouraging to see this type of blatant political payback and corruption in DC. Will the people allow this to happen, or will we stand up and boot these self-serving asshats to the curb?

    I’m a Ward 6er and proud to have Tommy Wells as my CM. He is a tireless advocate for my ward and progress throughout the city. He deserved better.

    • Elaine

      SF, Can you get Mr. Wells to do something about the constant trashcans lined up in front of my garage? I’ve been trying to get his office to do something about this problem, but I guess it isn’t newsworthy so why bother.

      • SF


        • Elaine

          You spoke about “how proud you are of the man and that he is a tireless advocate for your Ward” Well, I’m in the same Ward and he can’t seem to do something as simple as have someone come out and see why it is that my neighbors can’t seem to return their cans to their yards after trash pick-up when it’s required by the city that you do so.

          • SF

            Sorry you’re having problems. Have you asked your neighbors yourself why they can’t retrieve their cans?

            Not to trivialize your concerns, but if this is your biggest issue, you live in a very good part of the city.

          • Tres

            Elaine, it’s your job to talk to neighbors about things like this, not your CM. Unless you’re elderly or disabled, I don’t think you deserve a second of Wells’ attention over this matter. In fact, I’d be disappointed if in him if he did respond to you about this — waste of taxpayer resources.

            Can’t you push a couple supercans aside? That would take you what, 30 seconds once a week? Why are you calling a CM about this?

      • pwedz

        It most definitely is newsworthy. I suggest you call the Washington Post front page editor and CNN International would also most certainly be interested.

      • lou

        First you talk to your neighbors. If they won’t do anything call 311 to file a complaint. Then I personally would go to my ANC commissioner, not Wells’ office.

    • Joy

      I live in ward 6 and I don’t support Wells.

      • x

        why not?

  • Pokerface

    DC = District of Corruption

    Kwame is from the Marion Berry Charter School of Politics.

    This is going to be interesting to watch!

    • Anonymous

      No. At least Barry is (or was) entertaining and had a personality. Kwame and his ilk WISH they were like the big man of ward 8.

      (not a fan of Marion Barry, just saying he brought more to the table than just corruption)

    • Veronika

      Barry. If you’re criticizing, kindly make sure the spelling is correct.

  • Anonymous

    You should do more than write to Kwame Brown. Write to your council member in you ward too since they voted 12-1 to do this. Not like Brown was doing this solo. As the post op-ed notes:

    “Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), Mr. Brown’s enabling loyalist, was named chair of a transportation committee made even more powerful with the addition of environmental issues.”

    I don’t know how Ward 3 voters can support that woman.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      She has done some great stuff for Ward 3, but more recently has done more damage than anything. I stopped supporting her after she moved to supporting Gray as mayor. I know it was a political move because the writing was appearing on the wall that Gray would win, but I was deeply disappointed nonethless.

    • EB

      Agreed. We can’t just focus on Chairman Kwame Brown. City Council members need to know the pressure is also on them to keep the Chairman in check and stand up to him when he does something unethical–rather than roll over out of fear he’ll attack them next.

  • Idaho Ave

    I just wrote an email to Kwame regarding this as well. I also CC’d Tommy Wells, Mary Cheh and her Chief of staff.

  • Mike

    It’s a shame that Brown and Gray are working as hard as they can to undo all the progress that was accomplished under the Fenty regime. Nothing will change though until people start filing under DC and get out to the polls. Last year’s election was heard loud and clear by the Council which is why Wells was the only one to vote against the reshuffle and support good governance.

    • Veronika

      Fenty just enforced what was put forth in the Williams regime.

      • ess

        and that’s an accomplishment, as we’re seeing with the current administration which–in contrast–seems unable to enforce good things put forward by the previous mayor.

  • mphs

    Why did the council vote 12-1 for this change? I appreciated his bike advocacy, but at a 12-1 vote, why are people not writing to the other council members, all of whom, EACH and EVERY one, voted for this shift in committee assignments.

    • Whoa_now

      IMO it passed 12-1 because everyone but wells got something they wanted. And those that didn’t exactly get what they wanted, got to take Wells down a notch. Wells is the only one on the council that actually gets good press from time to time, I’m sure jealousy was involved. IMO Wells made a few enemy’s with the redistricting, but he is the ward 6 council member, he did exactly what his district was asking him to do and he did it. From Ward 6, thats good. Ward 8 not so much. He pissed some off with the bond tax issue…and most of the council is petty.

      • SF


        And the council chair can make the lives of the other CMs very difficult if they cross him. They took the weakest and petty route, every single one of them.

    • LT

      Yes, all the Council members need to be held accountable for this. They all voted on it.

      Frankly, they were probably worried they’d become Kwame’s next target if they voted against him.

  • andy

    You want to smack Brown but not Wells for documented, well-known, unethical and probably criminal behavior?

    You think you’re supporting our city by fighting for bike lanes, but really you’re fighting for Tommy Wells and enabling corruption.

    Greater long-term benefit comes from penalizing criminal behavior than from getting some awesome bike lanes.

    • Whoa_now


      • andy

        Tommy needs to stay. Kwame needs to go.

        Despite starting the email with a mention of corruption, the email writer seems concerned about bike lanes and therefore wants Wells to stay on.

        I’m more concerned about corruption.

  • TaylorStreetMan

    So, I haven’t read anything on this… what is K Brown’s stated reason for the demotion?

    Also, aside from championing bike lanes (a pretty narrow focus), what else makes Wells so amazing? Or is this more of an anti-Brown thing?

    (All honest questions, no snark intended.)

    • Whoa_now

      His main thing is the transportion committee, but he is also very hands on with ward 6. His slogan is a more livable walkable city.

      He does a lot more than bike lanes. Streetcar/Bikeshare/metro. One big thing was the contreversal Bag tax-which I hope everyone agrees was a success, Redistricting win for ward 6, Pushed through two reforms on vehical/campaign finance issues, etc. Its hard to pin point any real success for any other the council members though.

    • DCster

      The stated reason was the committees should be reorganized to be more effective, combining environmental issues with transportation. Never mind that now the council member with the most transportation expertise (and the one who was on the Metro Board) is no longer going to be dealing with transportation issues, and the disruption this game of musical chairs imposes on the Council.
      I’m *sure* the move had nothing to do with political calculations…

      • LT


  • Anonymous


    it is my understanding that under DC law a recall petition cannot become formally active until the target of the recall campaign has been in office for over one year. is this correct?

    • LT

      I don’t know, but does anyone out there know the rules? We need to find out.

  • “Don’t even get me started on the silly a$$ ones that think it’s a good idea to ride down Rock Creek Parkway on the MAIN LANES!”

    Don’t get me started on the reckless drivers who think that Rock Creek Parkway is an expressway, instead of a nice drive through a federal park with speeds posted at 25-35 miles per hour.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      Also correct. You’re both right.

      And before I get slammed about bikers on Rock Creek: I’m not saying you don’t have the right to ride on the lanes (technically you do). In my mind, the issue is whether it’s wise to, especially given how people (also unwisely) often drive recklessly there.

    • Steveo

      I’ve always had a pipe dream of getting rid of that road and making rock creek one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world.

  • RDDC

    Kwame has officially entered DC into the race for worst third world city! And to think, at least Vince Gray keeps his politics behind closed doors for the most part. Fenty is laughing is ass off, looking at a city that was on its way to being more or less world class RUN into the ground. Big picture is a totally foreign word to these impetuous, reactive, ignorant fools…they have no right to be called leaders..

  • Rhody

    Re corruption in DC: Yes it’s bad, but please leave the hyperbole at the door. Other states, cities and particularly countries have much bigger problems with corruption.

    Re bike lanes: I walk, bike, and take public trans 90% of the time. When I do drive I am always cautious to avoid bikers. Many know the rules but many, many others do not and routinely swerve out of their bike lanes, don’t signal for turns and apparently think that stop signs and street lights apply only to motor vehicles. So yes, more bike lanes are a good idea but DC bikers need to greatly increase their awareness and exercise some caution.

  • Mike

    Focus less on the bike lanes and more on the corruption. Bike lanes are small potatoes compared to the apparent support that Kwame Brown, who is under federal investigation, was able to get from the rest of the council. Bad sign the rest of the council was willing to go to bat on this. Sign of more dirty politics to come.

    • The Heights

      Absolutely right. I didn’t believe the “back to the 80’s” rhetoric when Gray got elected, but with the way things are going in the Council and all the girls now wearing those Flashdance one-shoulder shirts, it’s looking like I need to dig in the closet and find my Jams.

    • Whoa_now

      agreed. The council could have easily shot this down and that basically would have been the end of Kwame Brown. A vote of no confidence, he would have had little to no power. It would have been the just thing for a legit council that cares about the city to do when your chair is facing his second/third major scandal in 6 months.

      • Mike

        Completely agree. It started with Kwame Brown but the rest of the council supported him and thus just as guilty. Don’t understand why the council would want to get in bed with a chairman under investigation. Brown played all his cards, but don’t know what political capital he had to spend.

  • Larry

    Kwame had a SUV — and promises revenge — Kwame’s gonna get Tommy, thus Kwame holds grudges!

  • Anonymous

    Politics = loyalty. If you’re not loyal to those who have power over you, forget about it. Every politician knows or should know this. If you’re tempted to blow the whistle on someone with power over you, you better find a way to get him off his behavior without making him look bad, or have a electorate engaged enough and organized enough and smart enough to give you enough cover to blow the whistle. None of that happened here. Such is life. Most of you don’t seem cynical enough to accept the reality of municipal politics.

  • anon

    kind of off topic but commenting on a comment in the op — Just because you drive and commute doesn’t make you a suburbanite. I live in DC – downtown – and paid more than my fair share of taxes last year, and yeah, i commute to virginia. the reflexive “bikes are pro dc” and “cars are for marylanders” is wrong.

  • Monster Cow

    As a Ward 6 resident I emailed Brown and Cheh to express my displeasure.

    However, what I am really hoping for is an expedited investigation and conviction of Brown, Gray and Harry Thomas Jr by the Feds.

    The no talent corrupt clowns on the City Council need to be afraid of something, and they are obviously not afraid of the voting public.

    • DCster

      I wouldn’t hold my breath. Apparently Kwame Brown got the Board of Elections to hold off on issuing any fines for election financing violations until the Federal investigation investigated (who knows when that will be finished) – thus basically kicking the can down the road. Apparently, based on what I remember from the Post article, there are also limits to what punishments the Feds can issue in these circumstances. So it seems Brown is so far avoiding any consequences, and counting on the public to have a short attention span.
      The Council was operating 100 times better when Gray was Chair – it’s a shame it’s gone so far downhill.

      • this sucks

        Great. So Kwame Brown isn’t held accountable for corruption and wasting taxpayer money on a luxury SUV (not to mention the 2nd SUV we also pay for that he can’t deign to use because the interior’s the wrong color). But Tommy Wells is held accountable for being honest. Great incentives here.

  • RH

    Hey kwame!! Meet your challenger for city council chair in 2012, Mr. Tommy Wells!!

    • LT


  • Dave C.

    Fuck Kwame Brown. Worst #1 draft choice EVER!

  • Mr. Poon

    Brown ought to be deposed and thrown into the river. One party rule has broken down into two informal coalitions akin to optimates and populares.

    Long live the DC optimates.

  • rabble

    if we didn’t have bike lanes, where would delivery drivers and the slothly park?

  • yellowjacket

    Looks like Kwame and company are pulling out all the stops.

    There will be no end. They want you to leave and they don’t care how it happens.

    This is why you never ever ever ever act entitled around the older residents who’ve endured DC govt while remaining in opposition to such governing. This is actually the old way of Barry.

  • ha


  • Anonymous

    Kwame Brown is most likely going to be in Jail after they finish investigating his 08′ campaign finances, Tommy Wells is a PC Nazi who appeases his nimby friends on Cap Hill by putting ward 6 parking only all around CITY PARKS and saying its the stadium! the stadium! This council is terrible! Lets get rid of them all!


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