- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2019

The D.C. Council is under fire and has some heavy lifting to do over the next 18 months, and for the first time since 1991, the voice of Jack Evans on fiscal affairs, redistricting matters and run-of-the-mill national Democratic Party priorities won’t be heard.

This isn’t to suggest that the council stifle his First Amendment rights. Mr. Evans has the right to speak as he pleases.

It’s just that his current credibility as a lawmaker and political influencer is under the ugliest of clouds for an elected and seated politician: influence peddling.

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Tsk, tsk, tsk.

What the future holds for Mr. Evans — indictment on federal white-collar charges, a plea bargain and/or prison — is uncertain, even following a federal raid on his home. His council colleagues have called for an investigation, and a special election could be held should he either resign or be recalled by city voters.

For the council, however, some affairs already are inked in, such as preparations for the D.C. and presidential elections, the campaigning for the elections and the prep work for redrawing the city’s political maps.

Mr. Evans — the council’s longest-serving lawmaker — sat on the past two redistricting committees, which, like the states, divvied up residents according to the results of the U.S. census. Unlike the states, though, the District didn’t witness much ideological sniping because D.C. residents have long been overwhelming Democrats, liberal or “Republicans in Name Only.”

Nonetheless, the map must be redrawn. Population shifts and economic development will lead the way.

Count on council member Charles Allen’s Ward 6 geographical share of the city to shrink. He currently represents the largest share of residents in the city, 85,011, according April data.

Ward 6 encompasses Capitol Hill, parts of Southwest, the Washington Nationals ballpark and the D.C. United soccer fields, and new residential digs.

The second-largest population — 70,385 — resides in Ward 5, home to long-established neighborhoods with block after block of single-family houses, and the Roman Catholic enclave, where thousands of university students can now register to vote at age 16.

The smallest voting bloc of 60,395 residents is Ward 8, where Democrats — not economic development — also rule.

Since the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and Washington Channel set Ward 6 apart, it’s going to be difficult for council members to massage the dynamics.

See, while Mr. Evans technically represented only Ward 2, his institutional memory is unmatched on the council dais.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced Monday that an outside law firm will probe Mr. Evans on the council’s behalf and that he will make the findings public.

But why wouldn’t results of the Evans probe be public? It’s a government contract with a private entity — just like contracts to feed and bus, and build housing and sports facilities.

Mr. Mendelson is ordinarily as cool as a crisp cucumber, but like Mr. Evans, he is under pressure as the chief, cook and bottle washer for the city’s legislature. The mayor, after all, must govern what the council mandates and legislates — not the other way around.

Redrawing the city’s eight wards whether he withstood the heat.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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