Editorial: Oversight needed by Jim Graham
Next week, one of the D.C. Council's most experienced leaders will chair an oversight hearing focused on the agencies that regulate the liquor industry in the District of Columbia. Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1), whose legal credentials are among the most impressive on the Council, will surely examine troubling questions about the actions and statements of Charles Brodsky, Chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board), the body of Mayoral appointees that sets policy and adjudicates disputes on these critical community issues.
Brodsky's appearance in December before the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission to ask for the ANC's support for the closing of Georgetown streets for The Nation's Triathalon, The Washington DC Triathalon, and Washington Sports and Events Management, Inc. -- businesses Brodsky founded and runs -- raised serious conflict of interest issues that undermine the credibility and possibly the legitimacy of ABC Board decisions.
"It's a very legitimate concern - this conflict situation," said D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson (At-Large), Chairman of the D.C. Council judiciary committee and a former ANC Commissioner. "As chair of the ABC Board who rules on matters that the ANCs bring to him, he has the power to rule against them if they don't cooperate with the requests he makes as a private business person."
Matt Watson, former D.C. Auditor and recognized expert on government ethics, agreed. “It’s clearly unethical and possibly criminal for a District official to represent a private party before a District agency.”
Graham is the most qualified member of the Council to take on this important challenge. He has taught at the law schools of Georgetown and George Washington University. His law degrees are from the University of Michigan and Georgetown.