'DC Council begins debate over acting Chair to replace Kwame Brown, Orange and Barry trying to block resolution by Cheh' (@brucejohnson9 via Twitter)
@brucejohnson9 via Twitter:
Phil Mendelson takes seat as acting chair.
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- A week after Kwame Brown resigned as DC Council chairman, the council unanimously voted to make at-large council member Phil Mendelson the interim chairman. He will lead the council until Election Day in November.
According to city charter, the at-large council members are eligible for the interim position. The top two vying for the job were Phil Mendelson and Vincent Orange. The men distanced themselves from their former colleague Kwame Brown, saying they are honest and are not under investigation. But many say the council must repair the scandal-ridden D.C. government, which involves an ongoing investigation into the mayor's campaign and that into Jeffery Thompson, a long-time campaign contributor who gave money orders to Vincent Orange that even he admitted looked "suspicious and questionable."
Wednesday morning, the DC council members began their debate over an acting chair to replace Brown, and 9News Now's Bruce Johnson reported that Vincent Orange and Marion Barry were trying to block a resolution by Mary Cheh.
Notes from Bruce Johnson via Twitter (@brucejohnson9):
Phil Mendelson accepted the chairman nomination and threw his support behind Michael Brown for pro tem. Barry supported Orange for chair pro tem.
Barry then told the other council members that "some people want us all to resign" and that "two of our members convicted more on the way probably."
David Catania weighed in, saying that says every person was supporting someone based on what's in it for him or her.
Jim Graham said that he wanted to separate the vote for Mendelson and Brown, and the council voted to do that. Then, Orange supported Mendelson and himself for chair and pro tem. Orange added that the Democrats should stick together, not support independent Brown.
Muriel Bowser said despite difficult days, the council and government are moving ahead and spoke in support of Mendelson. Graham wanted Mendelson to have a unanimous vote for acting chair. Jack Evans, Barry and Brown then follow with their support of Mendelson before a roll call vote.
Then, in a unanimous vote, Phil Mendelson was voted acting DC Council Chair. Tommy Wells supported Orange as pro tem, adding that there is a crisis of ethics in government.
Mendelson speaks for Brown and asks other council members to support Brown as pro tem. Barry speaks adamantly against Brown, saying he should withdraw.
As for Brown, he said, "We have enough external pressures outside this room" and while trying to bring 7 votes home stated that "all my issues have been vetted and voters have elected me. " Brown admits to past mistakes.
Catania spoke in support of Brown, saying it was Mendelson's working relationship with Brown that sold him. He mentioned that Orange and Mendelson likely will square off for Chairman in November.
But the vote to name Orange pro tem failed on Wednesday.
The resolution to have Mendelson as acting chair and Brown as pro tem was on the floor and Yvette Alexander made an emotional statement, including the words "tomorrow some of us might be in handcuffs" and crying before saying " we work hard for this city."
Kenyan McDuffie, the newcomer to the council, told the others that vote was important to him before throwing his support behind Mendelson and Brown.
Eventually, Orange threw in towel and accepted Mendelson and Brown. But he said that he can't support the resolution. During the roll call on Mendelson and Brown, Orange says no while Barry votes yes.
Councilmember Michael A. Brown issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"I believe Chairman Mendelson brings the needed stability and honest leadership the city deserves during this troubling episode of governance and I am honored to work alongside him, and my colleagues, to restore the Legislature's focus towards the needs of the people."
Councilmember David Catania also issued a statement:
"I fully support today's vote to name my At-Large colleague Acting Chair. Mr. Mendelson is an honorable person and is honest to the core. Though we have disagreed on certain issues through our 14 years of service together, I respect him and the work that he has done."
"At this time of upheaval and crisis for the District, where residents are seeking real unity and stability in their government, the behavior of some of my colleagues today was an embarrassment. The fact that some members made decisions on who to support in today's vote based on their personal ambitions is a shameful abdication of their oath of office and a disgraceful disservice to the people of the District."
"To the citizens of the District, I would like to say that we face many months of acrimony and uncertainty ahead. In the coming weeks, I urge residents to reach out to their elected leaders to remind them why they hold office. People want and deserve to be represented by ethical and diligent individuals who hold their obligations to their constituents and fidelity to their oath above personal ambition or sense of entitlement."