D.C. Council's Tommy Wells has a lonely political life
- Hey, guys, what about me?
D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells isn't well-liked by his fellow-councilmembers, and probably isn't friends with Chairman Kwame Brown anymore — if he ever was — and anyway Wells isn't really interested in making friends on the council, which might explain why he's always changing his mind on stuff and breaking allegiances.
That's the gist of the Post's profile of the former social worker and fierce bike advocate. The occasion, of course, is that Brown recently stripped Wells of his chairmanship of the Committee on Environment, Public Works and Transportation — in retaliation, most reasonable people believe, for Wells' investigation into Browns' picky taste in taxpayer-funded SUVs. After demoting Wells, Brown nonetheless called him a friend, and did so again to the Post. Wells agreed.
For real? 'Of course,' Wells said. Then he added: 'I can’t get bogged down worrying about who’s my friend and who's not. I try to treat everyone as a friend, and it's important that there be civility on the council. . . . It's about governing the city in a way that works for everybody. Whether we're friends or not is just not an issue.'
Ah, so they're lower-case friends — as in, friendly. It seems, from Vanessa Williams' profile, that Wells is having trouble making any friends at all on the council. (He was the only one to oppose Brown's committee-chair reshuffling. He now chairs the Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation and Planning, and remains a member of the transportation committee.)
His colleagues, who supported Brown's proposal to reconfigure several committees just before the council went on summer recess, say privately that no one stood up for Wells because he's just not very well-liked in the council chambers.
Councilman Jack Evans told the paper that he'd never seen such a reshuffling in his 20 years on the council, and that Brown did it because he was "mad at Tommy." Nonetheless, Evans voted for the reshuffling "in deference to Brown," Williams writes, while Councilmember Phil Mendelson did so "because it was Brown's prerogative to assign committees, even though Mendelson said he and 'most of the members were uncomfortable.'"
But let's get back to why Wells isn't well-liked.
Wells, who frequently bikes to work, is a champion of activists who promote walking, biking and other green-living issues. But he frustrates his colleagues as being an unreliable ally, more than once changing his mind after they thought they'd secured his support.
Fair enough. But that doesn't necessarily mean Wells is indecisive or disloyal; it could be a sign that Wells wrestles deeply with issues, and that he's unafraid to admit when he's wrong. Plus, I'd much rather a councilmember change his mind on matters of importance to our community than, say, over the color of his Lincoln Navigator's interior.
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