Category Archives: DC

Delegate Norton fails again; barely 6,000 gun prohibition goose steppers march to hear her speak

Thousands Attend Gun Control Rally in D.C.

A “national” goose stepping of barely 6,000 (which included dozens of pro 2nd Amendment counter protestors), the day after 400,000 people marched against abortion.  And other media, from the UK Daily Mail to the local NPR affiliate WAMU simply report over a thousand, not 6,000.  I suspect the pathetically small 6,000 figure is an inflated guesstimate from the anti-self-defense/disarmament goose stepper groups.

And it was a warmer day and a weekend!

Here’s a hint for the prohibition fascists – if you had just gone the day before and found 15% of the pro-lifers who also supported gun control you could have doubled your numbers!

Local NPR affiliate WAMU interviewed one of the Bill of  Rights supporters:

Thousands of gun control advocates from across the nation rallied on the National Mall Saturday, demanding Congress and President Obama to pass gun legislation while the issue is still in the national spotlight.
Demonstrators came from across the country, including a busload of people from Newtown, Conn. One of the protesters, Eddy Sourby, is a freshman at Newtown High School.
Sourby was at the high school on Dec. 14, when, about a mile away, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 elementary school students.
“We went into lockdown for like two hours, and everybody was like really confused,” says Sourby. “Then, when it went on for too long, our teacher, he told us there was a shooting.”
Sourby came to protest in D.C. with her mom, and about 80 others from Newtown, who say they were galvanized by the tragedy.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was among the roster of local and national leaders who fired up the crowd. At one point, she asked all of the Newtown residents at the demonstration to stand up to be recognized.
“Today we join the great majority of Americans who want to move this country off of the outskirts of civilization, into the civilized world of nations who protect their children,” says Norton in a speech to the crowd.
The silent march was interrupted by a handful of counter-protestors (photo) Including Victoria Bingham, of Alexandria.
“I really believe in the second amendment because I know that living in the state of Virginia, there are so many people that do own guns, I am very safe,” says Bingham.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the rally, saying cities need federal action to stop gun violence.
“This is a city that has worked hard to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” says Gray.
The District already bans high-capacity ammunition magazines, but the city’s handgun ban was struck down in 2008.
The gun control debate will be front and center on Capitol Hill next week: on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing called “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?”

Postscript

I helped organize a small group of Bill of Rights supporters to educate these anti-self defense goose steppers.  They report far fewer than the measly 6,000 claimed by New York magazine:

bruce – i think bridget already made a correction on this – there weren’t thousands of anti gun protesters… there was maybe 500 at most…. and half of them were grandmothers and children whose parents dragged them with to hold signs…. it was rather sad to tell the truth   – can you update your blog?”

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Does DC need a clean sweep of all incumbents?

Do most of them cover for each other?  Or simply not pay attention?

LGBT activists saddened, angry over Kwame Brown resignation, criminal charge

By Lou Chibbaro Jr. on June 7, 2012 @WashingtonBlade
Eleanor Holmes Norton, David Catania, Kwame Brown, gay news, Washington Blade

Eleanor Holmes Norton & openly gay City Council member David Catania speak with Kwame Brown. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
LGBT activists joined fellow D.C. residents in expressing sadness and anger over an ongoing city corruption investigation that led to the resignation Wednesday night of D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown (D-At-Large).
Brown’s resignation came hours after federal prosecutors charged him with committing felony bank fraud. Sources familiar with the case said he was expected to plead guilty to the charge at a hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
An atmosphere of tension and uncertainty within the city government over Brown’s predicament intensified when gay D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) called on Mayor Vincent Gray to resign if he continues to refuse to publicly answer questions about a separate investigation into alleged wrong-doing in his 2010 election campaign.
In an interview with Fox 5 TV News, Catania said, “The time has come, especially in light of what we expect to happen with the chairman today, for the mayor to provide answers to the questions that people have regarding his campaign or return as a private citizen and address those issues.”
Catania appeared to express what many observers at the Wilson Building, which serves as D.C.’s City Hall, were saying privately.
“The Wilson Building has been transformed into a rumor mill and, you know, people simply speculate as to when the next shoe will drop,” he told Fox 5 News. “Enough is enough.”
Brown’s resignation came five months after D.C. Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) resigned less than a week before he was charged with embezzling $350,000 in city funds. Thomas pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced in May to 38 months in jail.
Last month, two high-level officials in Gray’s 2010 mayoral election campaign pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. The violations involved illegally diverting campaign funds to pay a minor mayoral candidate to stay in the race and harass and heckle then Mayor Adrian Fenty, Gray’s main rival in the election.
Gray has said he knew nothing about the scheme, and no evidence has surfaced to indicate he engaged in an illegal act in connection with the payoff to candidate Sulaimon Brown. But sources familiar with the case say federal prosecutors continue to investigate whether Gray and others were involved in the scheme.
On Wednesday, prosecutors with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia filed a charging document called a criminal information against Council Chair Brown accusing him of engaging in bank fraud.
The document says that between August 2005 and August 2007 Brown “knowingly and willfully devised a scheme and artifice to defraud Industrial Bank, N.A.” It says the alleged scheme involved obtaining a home equity loan from the bank to buy a boat by falsifying loan application documents that overstated his income by “tens of thousands of dollars.”
Sources familiar with the case said Brown consented to the criminal information and waived his right to have the allegation brought before a grand jury. Defendants who select the criminal information option almost always agree to an offer by the government to plead guilty in exchange for a less severe charge or a promise by the government to seek a more lenient sentence, according to court observers.
“I hereby resign my position as Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia effective immediately,” Brown said in a letter he submitted to the Council’s secretary at 4:29 p.m. Wednesday.
“I have made some very serious mistakes in judgment for which I will take full responsibility,” he said in the letter. “I have behaved in ways that I should not have. I was wrong, and I will face the consequences of that conduct,” he said.
“This is a grim day,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president for political affairs of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. “Kwame Brown was an ally of the LGBT community, if not in the top rank.”
Rosendall noted that Brown wasn’t an early supporter of same-sex marriage and he didn’t support a bill to allow gay clubs displaced by the Washington Nationals baseball stadium to move to new locations. But Rosendall said Brown “redeemed himself in recent years, including by co-introducing the marriage equality bill.”
Gay Democratic and Ward 8 activist Phil Pannell called Brown’s resignation “heart breaking,” saying he worked on all of Brown’s election campaigns. When Brown ran for the Council Chair position Pannell arranged for him to visit gay bars across the city, helping Brown build support from LGBT voters.
Pannell and Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, said Brown’s departure from the Council would not change the Council’s overall strong support for LGBT related issues.
“My immediate reaction is this won’t have an impact on our community,” Williams said in referring to LGBT support on the Council.
“It is always sad when someone people trust and respect does something to betray that,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein. “Kwame Brown will have to pay the consequences but the District is doing well and we need to focus on that and esure that whatever the result of his transgressions are they don’t impact the greater good of the people.”
Council members Phil Mendelson and Vincent Orange, both At-Large Democrats, are believed to be the two candidates in contention for the post of interim chair. Under the city’s Home Rule Charter, the Council has authority to elect an interim chair if the Council chair position becomes vacant. Under the charter, the Council’s four at-large members are the only ones eligible for the interim chair position.
The interim chair serves until a new permanent chair is chosen in a special city election. Sources familiar with the Council have said Mendelson appears to be the favorite for the interim post.
Under the Home Rule Charter, Council member Mary Cheh, who holds the position of president pro tempore of the Council, became the Council’s acting chair until the Council elects the interim chair. Cheh said she has called a special Council meeting for June 13 for the purpose of allowing the Council to elect the interim chair.
Cheh is a strong support of LGBT rights.
Like other political activists, gay Democratic activist Brad Lewis, a former Stein Club president and resident of Ward 8, said he was angered as well as saddened over the Kwame Brown resignation.
“In a short period of time we have had two elected officials resign after being charged with a felony,” Lewis said. “This doesn’t look good for us as a city. It doesn’t help us in our effort to expand home rule and obtain budget autonomy,” he said in referring to longstanding efforts by the city to end Congress’s power to give final approval to the city’s budget.
Pointing to ongoing investigations of other Council members and the mayor, Lewis added, “It seems like half of our officials are under investigation. It all stems from greed and ego. People feel they are above the law.”
D.C. gay Republican leaders Bob Kabel and Robert Turner echoed Lewis’s sentiment. Kabel is chair of the D.C. Republican Party. Turner is president of the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political group.
“Our city deserves better than this,” Kabel said in a statement. “The charges against Kwame Brown are serious and are a result of elected officials feeling entitled to benefits they don’t deserve.”
Kabel added, “Until District residents begin electing Republican officials, our city will continue to endure similar embarrassments and unethical behavior from our elected officials.”
Turner said he was troubled that two members of the City Council have resigned over corruption scandals within a period of barely six months.
“Kwame Brown says he wants to take the honorable course by resigning,” Turner said. “The honorable course is not to commit fraud in the first place…Sadly, the question on everybody’s mind is ‘who’s next?’”

Pride? Are DC political groups defending corrupt political leaders who fund them?

D.C. Mayor Gray calls Catania remarks ‘nonsense’

By Phil Reese on June 7, 2012 @WashingtonBlade.com 

Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the Pride week LGBT town hall on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray took a shot at gay Council member David Catania during a Pride town hall event Thursday.
A day earlier, Catania said in a televised interview that Gray should resign if he fails to tell all he knows about allegations of improprieties in his 2010 mayoral campaign.
He told Fox 5 news, ”The time has come … for the mayor to provide answers to the questions that people have regarding his campaign or return as a private citizen and address those issues,” said Catania.
“I don’t want to respond to that kind of nonsense,” the mayor said when asked by the Blade’s Lou Chibbaro Jr. about Catania’s remarks. ”David Catania makes comments at times that are ridiculous.”
The reception and town hall, which took place at the Charles Sumner School in Washington, D.C., also saw the swearing in of members of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Committee. The event was sponsored by Capital Pride, the Washington Blade, the Victory Fund and the Crew Club.
“We want to get them sworn in tonight,” Mayor Gray said in announcing the new members of the committee after an introduction by the mayor’s GLBT liaison, Jeffrey Richardson. “Because we want them to take this seriously. This is serious work.”
“People can step back for a minute,” the mayor said in response to a question about the resignation and indictment of City Council Chair Kwame Brown. “The city is doing extremely well.”
The mayor said he was shocked and saddened by the resignation but said the scandal would not impact city services. He rattled off a list of accomplishments during his tenure as mayor, including posting a budget surplus, lower unemployment and a reduced number of homicides.
“We are a resilient city,” the mayor said, saying the District is adding 1,000 new residents each month. “Our city is in great shape.”
“I was stunned and I was sad to learn what was revealed,” the mayor said of the resignation of his longtime friend, but assured residents the city was on the right track.
The mayor also answered questions from the Blade about President Obama’s support of marriage equality as well as the impending Maryland referendum on same-sex marriage.
The mayor also spoke extensively of his pride over the District playing host to the International AIDS Conference, being held in the United States for the first time in two decades. He also said he was not prepared to make any statements about running for mayor again in 2014.
“We will be able to showcase what we are doing in the District of Columbia itself,” the mayor said, saying the conference will be an opportunity for AIDS/HIV researchers and advocates to advance the science of HIV prevention and care. “We are doing a lot.”
The comments came after a line of questioning about the rising HIV rates among gay men in the District of Columbia.
During an audience question and answer session immediately following the interview, trans advocate Ruby Corado thanked the mayor for his support.
“Since you’ve been mayor a lot of LGBT activists can sleep a little better,” said Corado, whose Casa Ruby recently opened catering to the Latino LGBT community. “As a trans activist, I certainly sleep a lot better.”
The members of the committee sworn in Thursday night are:
  • Andrew Barnett – Executive Director Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League
  • Gregory A. Cendana – Executive Director of Asian American Labor Alliance
  • Wesley D. Thomas – Dentist, U.S. Department of Defense & board member, Whitman-Walker Health
  • Brittany E. Walsh – Program Manager, LIFT-DC
  • Ryan C. Wilson – Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
  • Lester Johnson – President, Team DC Executive Council
  • Kareem Murphy – Partner, Ferguson Group & Member, Metropolitan Community Church Public Policy Team
  • Megan Wallace – Principal, Wallace Law, LLC,
  • Matthew Leblanc – Program Coordinator, LGBTQ Resource Center, Georgetown University
  • Savanna Wanzer – Founder of Capital Trans Pride 2007 & Board member Whitman Walker Health
  • Iden McCollum – Founder and Executive Director of the Ida Mae Campbell Foundation
  • Ronald L. Swanda – Aging Advocate
  • Dr. Imani Woody – Chair, SAGE Metro DC
  • Khadijah Tribble – Director of Operations for the Not-for-Profit Hospital Corporation’s Infectious Diseases Care Center & Principal, of Trifecta Consulting Group
  • Julius Agers – Two-Spirited American Indian and Transgender Advocate
  • Courtney Snowden – Principal, Raben Group
  • David Perez – President, Board of the Latino GLBT History Project & Director of Development for the League of United Latin American Citizens
  • June Crenshaw – Chair of the Board of Rainbow Response Coalition (RRC)
  • Barbara Ann Helmick – Deputy Chief of Staff for Citizen Outreach for The Public Interest Network (appointed as Vice Chair of Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee)
  • Earl Fowlkes – President/CEO of the International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP) – Appointed as Chair of Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown is charged with bank fraud and is making plans to resign

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) was charged Wednesday with bank fraud, according to documents released this afternoon, and he has told other council members he plans to resign.
Brown has been the subject of a long-running corruption investigation.
Past coverage

Timeline: The investigation so far

Timeline: The investigation so far

Catch up on the state of the long-running federal investigation into Kwame Brown.

‘If you ever fall, you get back up’

‘If you ever fall, you get back up’

FROM ARCHVIES | Kwame Brown said he’s relying on father’s advice to stay upbeat amid federal probe.

Brown: ‘I’m not worried one bit’

Brown: ‘I’m not worried one bit’

FROM ARCHIVES | Chairman says he’s saying upbeat and putting in 15-hour days.
The charges were filed in the District’s federal court in a “criminal information,” a document that can only be filed with the defendant’s consent and signals a plea deal is near, the officials said. Brown did not immediately return phone calls. His attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., did not respond to numerous phone calls and e-mails Wednesday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bill Miller, declined to comment.
Brown has apologized to the council and said he will be speaking to reporters in the next day or so to resign, according to three council members in the room, who spoke on condition of anonymity to allow Brown to make the announcement himself.
“He was very somber and you can tell this is just a weight,” one member said.
The three-page charging document says that Brown provided Industrial Bank of Washington “falsified documents” that overstated his income by “tens of thousands of dollars” to allow him to obtain a home equity loan and to purchase a boat. Prosecutors wrote that the two-year scam started in August 2005.
Bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, but Brown is sure to be exposed to far more lenient punishment under federal sentencing guidelines.
The City Council met in an emergency session on Wednesday afternoon. The panel voted unanimously to close the meeting to press and public, saying they were meeting about a personnel matter. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the president pro tempore of the body, is overseeing the meeting. Brown was not in the room while reporters were in there.
Brown has sent texts to friends and associates indicating that he would resign, but the messages did not put a timetable on any possible resignation.
Still, it appeared the resignation would happen soon. Council members were talking openly about the possibility.
Council Member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) called Brown’s pending resignation “an opportunity, an opportunity for real change.”
Almost immediately after the news of the possibility of charges broke this morning, Brown staffers locked all the doors to the chairman’s wing of offices in the John A. Wilson Building.
From behind locked doors, Brown spokeswoman Karen Sibert told reporters Brown was having a staff meeting, which included the city council secretary and general counsel.
At one point, Brown approached the glass door and made joking hand signals and facial gestures with a reporter. But a few minutes later, Brown staffers could be seen hugging one another through the glass door.
Around 2 p.m., Brown summoned Cheh to his office. If Brown resigns, Cheh would become the temporary chairman and oversee the the naming of an interim chairman. The council would then select an interim chairman from among sitting at-large members.