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Editorial: Mayor should talk to Chuck and say bye-bye

It is time for Mayor Vincent Gray to demand that Charles Brodsky, chairman of the powerful Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board resign -- now -- because Mr. Brodsky has lost the public trust. Mr. Brodsky not only has a long record of actions and statements hostile to community groups and their legitimate worries, but published reports this week have pulled back the curtain on apparent actions by Mr. Brodsky that were so blatantly wrong that one ABC Board member, Mital Gandhi, resigned in protest. Gandhi’s departure is the latest example of disturbing conduct by Mr. Brodsky, in this case, pushing through a reversal of a longstanding requirement for a major alcohol distributor, Washington Wholesale Liquors LLC, a member of one of the nation’s largest distributors of alcohol in markets across the country, to store its liquor in the District because of financial and regulatory concerns. This major change in policy was approved in executive session without a fact-finding hearing. The implications of the decision—which have been overshadowed by the uproar over Brodsky's apparent malfeasance and Gandhi's resignation—include serious revenue and job loss for the cash-strapped District. As reported on WTOP and the Washington Examiner, the ABC chairman apparently told Mr. Gandhi that Washington Wholesale was a possible supporter of The Nation’s Triathlon, a business owned by Mr. Brodsky, as well as a possible future backer for a Brodsky campaign for a seat on the D.C. Council. Mr. Brodsky is charged with sending inappropriate text messages to Washington Wholesale's lawyer during a hearing before the board. Mr. Brodsky has engaged in other conduct that has been called “unethical and possibly criminal” by some of the District's most trusted ethics counsels. As first reported in The Georgetown Dish, Mr. Brodsky, while chair of the ABRA Board, violated basic conflict of interest standards when he appeared before Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission in November to ask for approval of road closures for The Nation's Triathlon. Also reported in The Dish, Mr. Brodsky has displayed an unhealthy hostility to residents’ use of legally recognized Voluntary Agreements to live in harmony with liquor-serving bars and restaurants—in Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, Logan Circle and elsewhere. This problem is not new to the Mayor. When he was still Mayor-elect Gray, Dupont Circle Citizens Association President Robin Diener told Gray that Mr. Brodsky had said he did not know how to “value” a family’s sleep “over the revenue that would be generated” by a liquor-serving business. The Mayor-elect responded with incredulity: “He actually said that? Our residents are the heart of our city….I don’t support attacks [on voluntary agreements].” As the latest revelations have tumbled forth, Mayor Gray said yesterday that he would not reappoint Brodsky when his term ends over a year from now, in May 2012. But one year is a very long time for communities and the District to put up with continued "shenanigans," as Councilmember Jack Evans has said, at the alcohol control board. Allowing Mr. Brodsky to remain will further erode the public trust. Mr. Gray or a designated official in his administration must ask for Mr. Brodsky’s resignation—now. There is an important political rationale for a decisive move against Mr. Brodsky. Not only would the Mayor replace an unpopular Fenty appointee with his own choice, he would bolster his own credentials in the ethics arena. Given the recent battering his reputation has taken over the Sulaimon Brown charges, this is another good reason for the Mayor to ask Brodsky to leave.