Decorum on Agenda at Not-So-Secret Meeting

Well, so much for trying to keep a secret meeting from reporters.

Embattled D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown sent out a private message this week to his 12 colleagues saying he wanted to have a meeting Thursday at 1:30 p.m. 

Although the superficial purpose of the private meeting was to discuss personnel matters -- exempting the members from the open meetings law -- that was not the reason for the meeting.

The chairman has been losing control of the council’s public meetings, with members openly and aggressively challenging him or other members. And in their early breakfast meetings, some members are even cursing each other. It’s gotten so bad that Washington Post reporter Tim Craig wrote a front page article and used some of the same language the council members have used. (You won’t see those words on this website.)

When the meeting convened Thursday, the members were a bit stunned to see reporters present.  Brown read the superficial reason for the meeting -- personnel matters -- and then called for a vote to close it. 

Reporters wouldn’t leave, so the chairman had the police called, and reporters left only after clearly stating objections to the private meeting.

But there’s a bit more to the story.

Was it really a meeting to discuss private “personnel matters?”


And how do we know?

A cell phone picture of the chairman’s agenda sheet clearly showed that the number one item on the agenda was “decorum” at both the council meetings and the breakfast sessions, and Brown also had scribbled the word “profanity” next to the agenda item. 

Whether the council’s private meeting violated the city’s open meetings law is for the lawyers to decide, but at least now you know about it.

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