Get our free newsletter
To: Kwame Brown
From: Washington City Paper
Subject: Your New Car
Mr. Council Chairman—
So, you’re in a wee bit of trouble over your new car. It turns out that folks don’t like to learn that their new D.C. Council chairman is paying more for his “fully loaded” ride than most people pay to rent an apartment. That goes double—literally!—when you’ve actually caused taxpayers to acquire two such rides, having rejected the first one because the interior color scheme was deemed unacceptable. And, funnily enough, people get especially mad about these shenanigans at a time when the cash-strapped city is about to slash all kinds of jobs and services that real people need.
Bad luck. At this rate, if you keep the car, every time you use it to show up at some community meeting, you’ll arrive in a rolling reminder of your financial profligacy. On the other hand, your crack automotive-acquisition team has apparently tied the city into leases it can’t just break. Which means we’re stuck for the better part of a year with your two Lincoln Navigators—and the bills that come with them. And you’re stuck with a long-term public-relations headache.
So the question is: How to deal with this situation in a way that gets you out of your political jam. Never fear! A little creative thinking could help refund the city treasury for the losses caused by your bone-headed SUV shopping spree. Here are a few suggestions:
–By-the-hour rentals. Firms like Zipcar have made a huge impact here in the District. By our calculations, the $1,963 per month that taxpayers are spending on your SUV breaks down to a little less than $3 per hour. Why not rent the ride to willing customers? That way, the city could recoup its losses—and the citizens will thank you for allowing them to avail themselves of a classier vehicle than anything Zipcar can offer. After all, it’s fully loaded!
–Free moving assistance. The looming $600 million city budget crunch may well mean layoffs for key city agencies, including the police. Many of these folks will likely relocate away from the area. What better way to help them in their hour of need than by offering, gratis, the use of your super-sized sport-ute. They’ll be able to pack their wordly posessions inside, and may well leave town with fewer hard feelings thanks to the display of municipal generosity you’ll have helped arrange. Plus, that black-on-black color scheme means the Navigator is less likely to get stained during the moving process.
–Movie night! So a bunch of good-government wonks were making fun of your demand that your Navigator come with a full rear-entertainment system. Let them laugh! When you use said system to show inspiring, highbrow fare to kids across town as part of a new “Kwame Brown’s Movie Night” series, you’ll get the last laugh. Who knows—one of those kids who clamor onboard to watch videos may yet turn into the next Federico Fellini. And when he’s accepting his Oscar down the road, he’ll have Kwame Brown to thank for it.
–Congressional bedroom. Many of the District’s fiercest Congressional antagonists come from that young class of Republican firebrands who have made a fetish out of not renting D.C. apartments. Maybe one of your rides could serve as home instead? Sure, the Navigator costs a bit more than your standard English basement on Capitol Hill. But its plush seats are more comfy than an office cot. And the goodwill you’d win by serving as real estate broker to legislative heavyweights could wind up paying dividends for the District.
-Job training. A major theme of last year’s election involved helping get lower-income residents prepared for the job market. You should donate your car to this effort. Precisely because the Navigator is so fully loaded, it can help young people learn a wide, wide variety of skills: Not just automotive maintenance, but video projection, and GPS mapping, not to mention the growing field of aluminum-wheel polishing. With this donation, you’d go from goofy legislator in an opulent car to selfless benefactor of pre-professional education.
And if none of these ideas work out, City Paper may still be able to help. Like all media organizations, we occasionally need transportation to cover events around town. And unlike some of our TV colleagues, we don’t have any vans available for that purpose, leaving us dependent on fickle and pricey taxicabs. (Or bicycles, at least until the city whacks the budget for maintaining bike lanes.) Perhaps we could cut a deal—say, $100 a month—for a fixed number of rides. It wouldn’t pay your whole tab, but it’d be a start.
Of course, we’d also need a driver, since our comparatively unsophisticated corps of reporters may not be able to handle a ride meant for a powerful titan of politics. Care to help?
Photo by Matthias93 via Wikimedia Commons