Kwame Brown: The Aftermath

Barrington M. Salmon | 6/15/2012, 11:09 a.m.

Customarily, a candidate is on his or her way if the political establishment buys in to that person. Then the party machine will burnish that person, give them the exposure they need and the financial lubricant for any race.

"Good political grooming involves giving a candidate an ethical wash, not just polishing the veneer of outward appearances," she explained.

But it is clear the system isn't working.

"The political machinery is in bad shape and needs reinventing," said Brown "Good people seldom make it especially if they don't kiss the right rings, move in the right circles and choose not to be beholden to the machine. The patronage system consists of self-seekers and slaves to the machine."

"We need more people who lead with independence and irreverence like the late John Wilson and Tommy Wells."

But as a result of the scandals and ethical lapses Gray and the council continue to lurch through, Brown said she expects changes.

"I think there'll be some fundamental changes to the political machine. The influence of those pipelines will be diminished."

Thies said it's significant that none of D.C.'s white elected officials was born or raised in the District of Columbia.

"And none of them was raised here in the '70s and '80s," he explained. "Kwame Brown and Harry Thomas are children of long-term city politicians. Their sense of entitlement may have been developed in the environment in which they were raised."

Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, said she is most concerned about the corrosive effects of the scandals on the city's image and the distractions they are causing.

"With all the attention lately on indictments and plea deals of a few of D.C.'s elected leaders, it is difficult, but important, to focus on the important work that there is to be done in this city," she said in a blog. "I cannot mince words here - I am extremely disappointed with Chairman Brown's activities, and overall I find the lapses in personal judgment amongst our elected officials extremely disturbing. These are the people we have chosen to lead and manage our city; that they should be trustworthy shouldn't even need to be said."

"... I am calling for ... all elected officials to redouble their efforts to regain and restore the public trust. I've expressed my outrage over the ethical missteps made by other members of this government. This is a serious issue, affecting the economic health as well as reputation of our city. We cannot continue to have our leaders in the spotlight for one indiscretion after another."

At the end of the day, said Brown - who has been an ANC for 10 years - D.C. will ultimately ride out this storm.

"This is politics. It's not unique to D.C., it's everywhere," she said. "It isn't cataclysmic. This is not the end of the world. But we have to do better and make better choices. Voters have to be more discerning, more discriminating."

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