Cheh, Mendo Request Investigation Into Fire Truck Controversy
On Friday, Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Phil Mendelson sent a letter to CFO Dr. Natwar M. Gandhi seeking an accounting of "every travel expenditure incurred by the Executive Office of the Mayor and every subordinate agency during the months of December 2008, January 2009, and February 2009."
The reason: the fishy fire truck donation to the Dominican Republic.
The two councilmembers have also requested an "immediate" investigation by the Office of the Inspector General into the fire truck issue including the involvement of Peaceoholics Inc.'s Ron Moten. They note that the donation had been contemplated within dc.gov since June 2008. You can read their letter to the IG's office here.
The two also note that AG Peter Nickles is said to be investigating the matter. But they say Nickles had to be involved in the issue—i.e. he may have worked with Moten—and is tainted; the two contest that his investigation would at least appear to present a conflict of interest.
The Examiner reported last week on the latest twists and turns in this fire truck saga: "Peaceoholics Inc., a nonprofit anti-youth violence organization, claims to have organized the gift of vehicles, which were transported as far south as Miami this [past] week before being ordered turned around. The donation was authorized through an emergency rule quietly published in the D.C. Register on March 20 — 44 days after Gill returned from the island."
On Friday as well, Nickles leaked a letter to the press claiming that his investigation showed that the transaction was proper and reasonable–the fire equipment was not going to be used by the District employees, and that Moten and District employees were operating with "the very best of intentions."
Perhaps if the District government was upfront and transparent about the donation then the good people of the Dominican Republic would have been able to get their much-needed fire supplies. Or say, if Mayor Fenty was upfront about his outside travel, this little excursion wouldn't have been such a big deal. After all, it's just donation of a bunch of old fire equipment, right?
Nickles: Next time why not post a press release about the whole thing before the controversy breaks? You know, own the story, wrap it in a shiny bow. Instead, we get Fire Chief Rubin before the council last week declaring that he was "clueless" about the whole thing.
The councilmembers' letters and call for an investigation means this truck issue will not end soon. And shouldn't.