That Didn’t Take Long: Councilmember Thomas Comes Out Against Jellef Deal

Last week, after it was revealed that the city would pay $15 million to purchase the Jellef Branch of the Bots and Girls Club GM predicted that the expenditure was certain to come under scrutiny, if not open protest. Well, the push-back has already begun.

Carol Buckley of the Georgetown Current reports this week that Ward Five Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. considers the city’s proposed purchase of the property to be “financially irresponsible”. Thomas stated that the purchase would delay already-approved parks projects in Wards Five and Six.

Courtesy of the Washington Post

Courtesy of the Washington Post

Thomas claims that the fact the Jellef is located in affluent Georgetown doesn’t influence his position. He acknowledged that Jellef attracts children, including his own, from across the city. Nonetheless, it’s tough not to see Thomas’ objections in light of his thuggish attempt to silence a community newspaper that dared to question his ability to bring home the pork to Ward Five. He’s clearly sensitive to this line of criticism, so it would not be surprising if he choose this fight in order to silence his detractors at the Brookland Heartbeat.

That’s not to say he doesn’t make a good point. If there are other capital projects in the works that have been properly vetted and approved, why should they be delayed to let Jellef jump to the front of the queue?  Before any money is approved to purchase Jellef, the deal must be analyzed in the light of day, no matter how much many of us would hope it gets slipped in unnoticed.

According to the Current article, Councilmember Cheh is on board for the deal. Presumably Councilmember Evans is as well. Councilmember Mendelson tried to withhold the city’s contributions to the Boys and Girls Club until the organization promised to keep Jellef open. He ultimately stepped back from that proposal, but it would seem to indicate his support for the continued recreational use of the property. Add to that the Mayor himself who put the line item in the budget in the first place. Thus you can be confident that Jellef has solid support, but its supporters must navigate the waters carefully; they’ve just been put on notice by Councilmember Thomas.

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