Budget shortfall. Procuring a luxury SUV. Should a city suffering from the former do the latter? Too late– we already did. Twice. As mentioned in our morning roundup a few weeks ago, our Council Chair Kwame Brown– or someone acting on his behalf– required a top-of-the-line Lincoln SUV, complete with 600-watt sound system and DVD-entertainment, and it had to be here before the beginning of the year.
In the Sunday Post, Mike DeBonis outlines exactly how a city with budget woes purchased one luxurious Lincoln for Brown, only to have it rejected for the trifling flaw of having a gray interior vs. the requested black one. A dealer from Coldwater, Michigan drove a second, more suitable SUV to D.C. to deliver it in time for Brown’s inauguration. Did I mention that the city isn’t exactly flush with cash right now?
…when he was asked on television why taxpayers should foot the $1,900-a-month lease payments, Brown (D) said he had merely requested a black sport-utility vehicle and was driving the vehicle that the District had procured for him.
E-mails written by members of his staff and city officials – and obtained by The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act – tell a different story, beginning with a Department of Public Works solicitation in November for a 2011 Lincoln Navigator L series, an extended-wheelbase version of the Navigator. The e-mail specified “Fully Loaded Required” and indicated that the vehicle was being sought at Brown’s request…
Is the Chair of the D.C. council unaware of expensive requests being made on his behalf? One hopes not!
As it happened, the District was stuck paying for two Lincoln Navigator L’s after the first arrived with a gray interior and Brown insisted on the black-on-black color scheme, touching off a scramble for the model he wanted. A car dealer ended up driving Brown’s Lincoln from Coldwater, Mich., to the District on Dec. 29 – for an additional $1,500. The District cannot return the one with the gray interior until October.
According to the Post article, Kwame Brown says he “regrets the whole affair”. Brown also claims that if he had known how expensive the SUV was, he wouldn’t have accepted it. So if he didn’t ask for a luxurious Lincoln with very specific features, who did? Perhaps it was someone with champagne tastes, unaware of the city’s beer budget.