LL is a little sore today from getting out-FOIA’d this morning by the Post‘s Mike DeBonis. DBones nicely takes up where LL left off on the story of Council Chairman Kwame Brown‘s Lincoln Navigator costing nearly taxpayers nearly $2,000 a month.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, DeBonis finds that Brown put the city on the hook for two expensive Navigators because he was displeased that the first model the Department of Public Works provided him didn’t have the interior color he wanted. Boo-freakin’-hoo, right?
While there’s likely to be plenty of outrage directed at the hefty price tag taxpayers will shoulder because of Brown’s expensive and finicky taste in vehicles, LL hopes that at least a small sliver of that outrage is also directed at the clumsy untruths Brown’s been peddling about his new ride.
Witness Brown’s reaction when LL first asked his office about his new Navigator a month ago. Through his spokeswoman, Brown said that he was offered a the choice between a town car and an SUV, and only requested that he be given a black-on-black SUV—that’s it, just a regular old SUV with a black outside and a black inside. (The rumor mill around the Wilson Building at the time of LL’s first story was that Brown had specifically requested that his SUV look exactly like the mayor’s. Brown said the rumor was totally false.) Brown repeated basically the same thing about only requesting a black-on-black SUV last week on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt.
Now let’s look at what DeBonis wrote:
On Dec. 9, a leasing agent e-mailed District officials that she had found “the only Navigator L in inventory within a 6 state area” – for $1,769 a month. But it didn’t have the rear entertainment system that the city had requested and the interior was “stone,” or gray, not black.
A DPW official wrote back the next day to accept the vehicle, noting that “we would like the vehicle to be delivered as close to Dec 20th as possible.” [DPW Director] William Howland e-mailed Brown on Dec. 20, telling him the SUV would be ready the next day. But the exchange of vehicles did not go smoothly. Brown rejected the vehicle, he said in an interview, because of the gray interior.
The next afternoon, Nyasha Smith—a D.C. Council staff member who was the incoming council secretary, its chief administrative officer—e-mailed Howland: “We requested from Department of Public Works in October a black Navigator, black-on-black interior, GPS, power moon [roof], rear entertainment system and aluminum wheels. Notwithstanding our timely request, we were not apprised of the difficulty in procuring the requested vehicle within the time frame and only yesterday, upon the vehicle’s delivery, realized that we did not get what was requested, I am trying to get what is requested.”
Smith sent a copy of the e-mail to Allen Y. Lew, the incoming city administrator, “so we all can come to a timely resolution together.”
Howland called her back within a half-hour and then explained in an e-mail that a vehicle with an all-black interior had been found in Kansas City but would have taken two weeks to deliver—too late for Brown’s inauguration.
“Given that we were trying to deliver the vehicle as soon as possible we compromised on the color of the interior,” Howland wrote. “I take full responsibility on that issue.”
He gave Smith three choices: Keep the Navigator L with the gray interior, order the Kansas City vehicle or order another model, such as the more common standard-length Navigator, with an all-black interior. He did not mention that, in any case, the city would have to pay for the rejected SUV.
Let’s stop right there. Brown is offered a “common standard-length Navigator” with a black interior. That’s just what he says he wanted, right? (Let’s just forget for a second how stupid it is that he doesn’t accept a vehicle because it has a gray interior.) Does he take it? Roll tape…
Smith responded 15 minutes later: “Chair-Elect Brown would like to go forward with the vehicle from the midwest,” she wrote. “In the meantime we will keep the vehicle that was delivered yesterday. Just to make sure, we want black-on-black, rear entertainment system, gps, moon roof, aluminum wheels.” Howland told Lew that he would look into speeding up delivery.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s twice Brown’s staff reminds DPW that it wants an Navigator with GPS, a rear entertainment system, moonroof, and aluminum wheels. Is any reasonable person supposed to believe that the request for all those bells and whistles didn’t come from Brown personally? (Also, a “rear entertainment system” for a business car? Is that so Brown can still have movie night after a storm knocks the power out? And aluminum wheels? Are those supposed to make you a better legislator?) LL doesn’t think so, but Brown persists even in DeBonis’ article with the now debunked all-I-wanted-was-a-black-on-black-SUV line.
LL reached out to the Brown’s office for comment about his untruthful ways and got this response: “The chairman takes full responsibility and will gladly return the vehicle at the end of the lease in October.”