Chauffeurs Need Not Apply
It wasn't unusual this week to see cars on side streets or in the parking lots covered with ice and snow. But you wouldn't expect to see a fancy Crown Victoria coated in sleet and ice taking up a prime space in the John A. Wilson Building VIP parking section—right next to the mayor's spot.
The vegetating Crown Vic is the car officially assigned to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, but the apparently abandoned vehicle elicited shrugs from the Wilson Building security personnel, who haven't seen the car moved since the new chairman was sworn in Jan. 2.
Gray isn't the kind of guy who wants to be driven around in style. According to his chief of staff, Dawn Slonneger, Gray has never been a passenger—much less driven—the big blue behemoth.
Shortly after he took office, Gray was handed the keys to his official car by the proper authorities and immediately handed them to Slonneger. "He said, 'I'm not gonna drive this, you keep them,'" she says. "They gave us a flashing red light, too. He thought that was pretty funny."
Gray's predecessor, Linda Cropp, put plenty of miles on the Crown Vic. It was usually parked in front of her Crestwood home. She rode shotgun during regular working hours. A member of her paid staff served as unofficial chauffeur, according to council sources.
"The Chairman has his own car and he likes it very much," says Slonneger, who adds no one on his staff carries the designated driver title.
Shortly after Gray was sworn in as the Ward 7 councilmember two years ago, he purchased a sporty 2005 BMW 3-series.
But Slonneger says Gray doesn't plan to retire the Crown Vic. The big car could come in handy if he has important visitors in town or if staff need to get around on official business. This past Saturday, Slonneger fired "Big Blue" up for the first time to get to an event. (Slonneger takes the bus to work.) "You never know when we might need that car," Slonneger says. "But I doubt you'll ever see the chairman in it."