Loose Lips

Wilson Building Carsharing Spaces No More (Update)

Update below — When the topic of Navigatorgate came up at this week's second-most awkward mayoral press briefing, Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis had a helpful question/suggestion for Mayor Vince Gray: Why not expand the District government's carsharing program known as "DC Fleet Share"? Sounds good, right? Save money while potentially avoiding embarrassing scandals like the one that's rocked District government this week.

“Is that something we can expand on here. Why does any one person need to have car when we can have a shared pool?” DeBonis asked.

Gray responded: "I’m sure we’ll look at lots of options, Mike, I don’t have an answer to that at this stage."

But if the Gray administration is interested in expanding Fleet Share usage by employees at the Wilson Building, there's a slight problem: Fleet Share vehicles are no longer available at the Wilson Building.

Here's an e-mail Fleet Share participants received last month:

Dear DC Fleet Share Participants:

We wanted to inform you that effective today, January 14th, the DC Fleet Share Program will no longer have vehicles located at the John A Wilson Building. We understand that many of you have come to rely upon DC Fleet Share for your work-related transportation needs, and we apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause.

The Department of Public Works is in the process of exploring alternate parking solutions to reinstate DC Fleet Share vehicles in the area surrounding the Wilson Building. Please check the DC Fleet Share website (http://dcfleetshare.fastfleet.net) for updated location information.

We appreciate your patience and your continued participation in the DC Fleet Share Program.

The DC Fleet Share Team

LL's been trying for a couple days to find details about Fleet Share at the Wilson Building and why this move was made. Apparently, the council staff has its own small motor pool separate from Fleet Share. LL is waiting to hear back from Linda Grant, the spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, which operates Fleet Share.

While we wait, LL will share one perfectly reasonable theory he's heard about last month's e-mail: There are more people in the Gray administration who drive to work than there were in the Fenty administration. Which isn't a big deal, but would indicate—on some level, at least—the priorities of at least one decision-maker in the Wilson Building.

Update: So much for that theory. Grant gets back to LL with this tidbit: "The Council asked us to remove the Fleet Share vehicles." That's all Grant wrote. LL is trying to determine whether this was Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's decision or someone else's. And did it, just maybe, have anything to do with ...

  • cbr

    Having FleetShare cars AT the JWB is not nearly as important has having open spaces for FleetShare cars from other agencies available to use. I have to go to JWB all the time and, due to my agency's distance from the Metro, have to take a cab, which is then reimbursed to me by my agency. We have FleetShare cars on site, but there's no place to park them at the JWB.

  • DCDem

    @cbr: I understand that space is the greatest challenge for the fleet share program. Unlike Zipp Cars that are mostly parked in designated spots on the streets, fleet vehicles tend to be parked in centralized lots near where there are large populations of government workers.

    I believe that the Wilson Building employees would be served well by a daily shuttle bus that moves from one government location to another throughout the day. It could also be reserved for special trips. It is not the most luxurious way to get around and it doesn't venture into the neighborhoods, but it is an option that would serve the basic needs of many and requires no more than 1-2 parking spaces.

  • TK

    @DCDem: There were only two Fleet Share parking spaces at JAWB to begin with, and I don't see the cost benefit of having a tax payer funded shuttle that may not be as utilized as you would think. Since this administration is all about taking its sweet as time, er, placing an emphasis on deliberative process, there should be plenty of time for people to Metro/bus/cab over to JAWB when they need to. Now, if DPW would actually enforce the government vehicle parking only areas near the building, there would be plenty of parking.

  • John

    What a joke. So lets round this week up.

    1. We have a council Chair who broke the law. We have a mayor who may get away with the security loophole, but still got excessive luxury models. After all this we still have the SUVs, just shuffled around the motorpool.

    2. The Mayor is minimizing the most efficient way of handling city autos.

    3. Two Councilmen propose a law requiring Council, who's Chair broke the existing law, and the Mayor, who's tooling around in his own sweet rides to review and approve future leases. They do not propose to close loopholes. This is an obvious "Hey, we're doing something (until you stop paying attention)" gambit which should be reported as "people not following existing laws propose new law to monitor future following of existing laws", but folks are already reporting it as a "tightening up".

    4. The Mayor doing questionable Nepotism hires.

    But the Mayor did throw some poor fluny to the mob, so it's all god. Unh. Just unh.

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  • drez

    The WB does have a shuttle. It's inefficient in that 1)it must be requested in advance so there is a great lag time and 2) it can only be in one place at one time so can only serve one person/group at one time and 3) it requires a paid chauffeur.

  • trulee pist

    Sulaimon Brown rode his bike to work...on his LAST day of work. Just sayin'

  • GaGaGooGoo

    @John - nice end of week roundup. Let's not forget the monthly bout of unseemly whining over free seats at the Verizon Center and Mr. Graham's outright demand for his free Lady Gaga box seat.

  • urghh

    and where is Mary "Guard of the Law" when all of this is happening?!!

    Mary Cheh maybe getting a ride to GWU from the fake trips orchestrated by Gray...that's why she is so quiet.

    This is sickening.

  • ateditor

    at urghh

    Mary Cheh is nowhere to be found now, She supported Gray and should be held accountable for looking the other way at this procurement tragedy.

    Why nobody talks about HArry Thomas scandal now?

  • Ward 5

    What is Harry Thomas driving? What is Allen Lew driving?
    and don't compare to Fenty's administration. We elected Gray, the Fenty era is over.

  • John

    Ward5: Outside of that, a lot of us on the Fenty said of last election pretty much said the one thing we didn't like was the cronyism, etc... We just expected Gray to do the same thing so discounted that as a measure given the choices...and lo and behold we were right.

  • DCDem

    I thought council members and cabinet members had drivers detailed to them who, along with their regular job, transport them where then need to go in standard government vehicles. Has that practice ended?

  • Boney

    Ward 5,

    Allen Lew has a driver that drives him around in a black Chevy Tahoe

  • bobbly!

    this happened under gray as chair. you should ask ron collins and cynthia brock-smith about it. they constantly complained about these vehicles taking up spaces on 13 1/2 street. they need room to park - they are from maryland.

  • Terry Miller

    District law on nepotism allows family members to work in the D.C. government. They just should not be in the same chain of command, have hiring/promotion authority, etc. In DPW, Fire/EMS, MPD, etc, there are lots of cousins, son, daughters, wives, etc., who work for the same agency.

    In truth, Gray has not engaged in nepotism, because there haven't been any allegations that he hired any of his own relatives. The allegations have been that the administration has hired the children of high ranking officials.

    Maybe people are confusing nepotism with cronyism? Cronyism means that the appointing official hires people who are unqualified for the job and with him whom the appointing official has a social relationship. The expectation is that the "crony" will be a yes person.
    Now of all the people appointed by Gray, who qualifies as a crony? I think that questions should be asked. It appears to me that Gray has appointed a lot of people who he has worked with in the past and with whom he has a professional relationship. In his 60's and a lifelong resident of D.C., you would expect that Gray would have a depth of experiences with people and would know people with a wide variety of work experience, including federal and district government, non-profits, all of which are reflected in his appointments.

  • Somebody

    bobbly, Cynthia Brock Smith lives in Ward 7 and is very capable at what she does for the residents of the District of Columbia, as is Ron Collins.

  • Somebody

    Isn't the Intrim Chancellor still riding in her hand-me down SUV with driver included? The last time I saw the news clips of her, she was exiting a black SUV from the back seat - same as Miserable Rhee. Come on now! And that chick started out in a sedan. What happened to it? Let's keep it real. This all got started under you know - AMF maybe.