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Magazine editor Harry Jaffe of Washington, D.C., says city's political climate has historical context

11:05 PM, Jun 6, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C.  (WUSA) --- The national political editor of Washingtonian magazine, Harry Jaffe, says misbehavior by city officials like outgoing City Council Chairman Kwame Brown has roots stretching back decades.

"I don't think it's in the water and i don't think its in the genes of the political culture, at all. I think you have some individuals who didn't learn the basics, who don't have respect for where the money comes from and where it should go.

"They live too large, and they don't mind taking it from where they can find it, that's the problem," said Harry Jaffe in a 9News Now interview Wednesday.

Given the long history of DC officials caught acting in an improper way, is it possible DC residents are no longer outraged by misconduct?

"If you look at Marion Barry (The former mayor and current DC Council member), there is quite a deep reservoir of allowance for misbehavior.

I mean, Marion is the one who has not only spent time in jail, but has not paid his taxes, gave some contracts to his girlfriend, so he sets a very low bar. The fact that he keeps getting elected does send a certain sense and a certain message.

"And keep in mind that these two young council members who have run afoul both Kwame Brown and Harry Thomas, Jr. ( who resigned this year to be imprisoned for the personal use of public funds) do have connections to Marion Barry.

"I mean, they were his kids. They looked up to Marion Barry, so I think there is a certain connection that I think needs to be busted and broken up," Jaffe said.

Does he blame Marion Barry?

"I am saying that allowing Marion Barry to persist and not throw him out allows his culture, and the way he conducts business, to continue to be somewhat of a standard," Jaffe said.

Jaffe's view is certainly not one that is universally shared, but is reminiscent of the Thomas Jefferson observation that "The government you elect is the government you deserve."

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