Councilmember Thomas Resigns; Swamp a Little Shallower

The views below are mine alone and are not intended to speak for the entire ANC 2F.

So Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has resigned.

Good.

I blogged about this a couple of months ago.  However, I didn’t call for Thomas’s resignation.  Yes, it was the right thing to do, but as a resident of Ward 2, I felt the opinions of his own constituents and his colleagues were more important than mine.

What is surprising and disappointing is that prior to today, only one-quarter of Thomas’s fellow councilmembers had publicly called on him to resign.

While everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence, there is nothing different about today’s announcement of criminal charges than what we already knew this past summer.  The District’s attorney general made the same allegations in June, yet other councilmembers didn’t add their names to the “resign now” list until news about a pending plea bargain and Thomas’s offer to resign were already well known.

The Council failed to seize this golden opportunity to bolster its integrity and to regain the public trust.  In short, it was a failure of courage.

My blogging lately has focused on both this issue and the pressing need to revoke the liquor license of Mood Lounge.  Ethics and regulation of liquor licensees might seem unrelated, but for me, a common thread runs through them both.  I moved into the District from the ‘burbs because I was proud of and impressed by the progress DC was making toward good governance, lower crime and economic development.

But the current ethical climate, and the blight Mood Lounge has brought to my neighborhood, are both examples of “two steps forward and one step back”–maybe even one step forward and two steps back.

I don’t want Washington to return to the bad ol’ days.  We have come way too far to go back there.

While I’m at it, why on earth are DC councilmembers allowed to continue serving in office even after a felony conviction (albeit, not while in prison)?  Under federal law, if you commit a felony, you lose your right to own a gun.

In other words, if you commit a felony, the government wants to ensure that you won’t threaten your neighbor with physical violence at the barrel of a firearm.

But if you’re a member of the Council of the District of Columbia and you commit a felony, your government will still allow you to threaten 600,000 people with corruption, malfeasance and gross abdication of your oath of office.

Am I alone in thinking that any councilmember who takes up this cause could almost write the ticket for his or her own reelection?

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