Loose Lips

So, Exactly When Did Kwame Ask for the Navigator? (Updated)

Updated Below

One thing about the Navigatorgate scandal that's always nagged at LL is the fact that there's never been a clear accounting of the the initial request made by Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown or his staff for the luxury Lincoln Navigator he wound up with.

In a December email Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, an aide to Brown references an October request Team Kwame made to the Department of Public Works for a fully loaded Navigator that had a "black-on-black interior, GPS, power moon roof, rear entertainment system and aluminum wheels." But, as far as LL knows, no one's been able to find that initial October request.

At a hearing earlier this month held by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, DPW Director Bill Howland testified under oath that the initial request for a Navigator was made on Nov. 3, a day after Brown won the general election.

"When was the initial request made to DPW to procure the vehicle for the chairman?" Wells asked.

"The day after the election," Howland responded, adding that "Larry Cooper and the chairman's staff contacted my staff about the specifications for the vehicle." (Cooper is the head of the Council's Support Services Division, according to council staff.)

Later in the hearing, Wells read the aide's email that references an October request and asked Howland about the discrepancy.

"I was contacted the day after the election. I'll double check to see if my staff was contacted in advance of that, but I know that personally I received a call on the Wednesday after the election," Howland said.

Unsurprisingly, Howland's testimony that Brown asked for a Navigator within hours of winning the general election lead the next day's coverage of the hearing.

But emails LL just obtained today under his own FOIA request suggest that Howland's testimony is incorrect, and that SUV discussions might have started earlier.

On Sept. 28, a program specialist at DPW wrote his boss: "Larry Cooper called me today and put us on point that the new Council Chair (K. Brown) will need a new vehicle of his own. Currently, [Fleet Management Administration] is leasing a Chevy Tahoe for Mr. Gray. Should we consider turning in the Tahoe for a vehicle of Mr. Brown's choosing or go into another direction?"

The boss took the request to Howland, who responded in a Sept. 29 email: "Yes, go ahead and work with CM Brown on what type of vehicle he wants. We need to coordinate the return of Chairman Gray's vehicle with his new vehicle with MPD as well as vehicle for CM Brown."

LL is currently waiting for Howland to return a call seeking comment and will update if he hears back.

Worth noting: An aide to Wells, who is currently working on a final report about DPW vehicle procurement, said the councilmember's office requested all of the DPW documents, including emails, related to Brown's Navigator. But, says the aide, DPW never produced the emails LL obtained through his FOIA request.

Update: Here's DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant's reply:

Regarding the September 29 e-mail you received through FOIA, I just want to remind you that DPW is responsible for acquiring a vehicle for the Council Chairman.  In the email message of September 29, Mr. Howland acknowledges that the agency received the request to order a vehicle and directed the staff to handle the task.  In Mr. Howland’s testimony on March 17, he was referring to having learned about the specifics of the request after the General Election. As such, there was no contradiction as you are implying.

  • http://jacques.chevalier@comcast.net NativeNapper

    Why can't CM Kwame Brown just tell the truth and keep DC safe from Federal Control? Well Kwame Brown cannot spend any monye with prudence and thereby goes his credence and may the voters have no lenience for his malfeasance.

  • Rick Mangus

    I'm surprise that this arrogant prick didn't order spinning rims on his ride!

  • PearlGirl

    Uh, why doesn't the city have a standard vehicle agreement? If you're entitled to a car, you get X. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with CM Brown's choices, but why waste the resources? Shouldn't DPW be trying to get the best deal for the city?

  • Sally

    Kwame "Bullshit" Brown.

  • Southeast Resident

    Howland has been around too long! He needs to be replaced with someone who will follow the law! He is giving out gifts, perks, and favors on the taxpayers dime! He has got to go!

  • Southeast Ken

    @Southeast Resident; it's time for Bill Howland to go!

  • Annoymous2

    What no one seems to be getting is howland is just protecting his contracting staff. Someone needs to look into their qualifications and background

  • Anothernative

    @Southeast Resident, I agree with you on that one but you can bet that he'll try to throw someone under the bus before it get's to him.

  • Wonder Woman

    Instead of monitoring how these politicians piss away tax payer dollars, Howland's staff is going into alleys giving these same taxpayers fines for $75 and up for having their trash cans in the wrong position...I say so long Howland, and don't ya come back, no more, more!

  • Really?

    So....Al? the point is what? You find out when and then what? This shit is getting old.

    @Wonder Women...I thought that my neighborhood ally was the only one that received those bullshit tickets.

    Agree it's time for Howard to GO!!!!

  • Wendy Washington

    @Wonder Woman -- I must agree. In fact, I know of an instance (on Capitol Hill) where one neighbor put their trash out and the next door neighbor was ticketed in error. I know rowhouses are close together, but if DPW cannot discern which resident put the can in the wrong place, do not ticket. Where did they come up the ridiculous sum of $75? That is about three times as high as parking tickets or moving violations.

  • james

    Tommy Wells office says that they do not have the email exchanges between Howland and his staff in September 2010 as reported here even though they requested all documents and correspondences related to the subject. What are the reasons for Howland to keep them away from Tommy? Was he under oath when he testified recently?

  • Southeast Ken

    Some heads should roll and William Howland should be one of them. Kwame Brown is old news. The guy is an ignorant fool.

  • TheAngryVoter

    Maybe Kwame can shake every dc residents hand, and wear a "I take full responsibility" t-shirt wherever he goes to get back into good graces.

    Didn't I hear somewhere that he is taking classes up at Georgetown for something? Wouldn't be surprised if that is on the taxpayers bucket list for him either.

    He sure as hell made everyone who voted for him last September look like a fool. Glad I didn't!

  • TheAngryVoter


  • Manor Park Man

    Well, while Kwame is clearly a child living grownup dreams have having a driver and bling, it is the fault of the people who voted him into office. You should all decide to kick his ass out of office. He brings shame to the African-American class.

  • SEis4ME

    Alan? Hunh?

    Before I read the update, I even wondered the same thing. The September e-mails read that Brown will need a new vehicle, questioned whether he should get the Tahoe (Like Gray) and ended that they will allow Brown to choose his vehicle.

    So what is the insinuation here? You still said nothing about Brown making a request prior to the time as testified by Howland. Do you realize that you've called Howland and lie and did not prove such?

  • DovesCry

    Is Kwame's Father on Sekou Biddle's payroll? I just heard that from another person today.

  • Really

    Seis4Me...this shit has become personal for Al.

    Was I disappointed in a choice that Brown made during a time when the city is in a fiscal mess? Yes, but I'm willing to give him another chance.

    I'm happy with my choice to vote out the person who blew a billion dollar buget.

    And For crying out loud even if "Kwame's father" is on Benedict biddles pay roll....so what! What difference does this make? The man has been making a living doing campaigns for a couple of decades now.

    Oh and Al...I would start to put an ear to the ground. Word on the street is that Tommy Boy is up next. Seems like Friends of Tommy have benifited nicely too.

  • Rake

    Marshall Brown is indeed on Sekou's payroll.

  • Concernedaboutdc

    Marshall Brown is Sekou's campaign manager, so I am told.

  • Really

    @ Rake...and? The point is what?

  • Really

    Concerned his campaign manager is/was Mike Price then is a current shuffle and trust me it aint Marshall.

  • TheAngryVoter

    Interesting....I heard that the Ward 7 Forum last weekend was suppose to be an endorsement forum, but the Ward 7 Dems Executive board said it wasn't. Heard the motion was on the table for it to be a write-in endorsement poll under the Education Board poll, and the Executive Board rejected the motion (never in my 47yrs on earth have I heard of something like that). Goes to show you how many strings they are pulling for the puppet Biddle.


  • Rake

    @ Really, DovesCry asked if Marshall Brown was on Sekou's payroll. The answer is yes. I provided that answer. Is that so hard to figure out?

    No comment on Marshall. Well, other than I wish his son had half a brain - actually, even a quarter of a brain.

  • Charlie

    If I read this right a staffer asked if when a new car was selected by the incoming Council if they should get one that is specified by the incoming chair or if something else should be done (such as getting one chosen by government employees or even that they don't provide one). Howland replies that they should work with the incoming Councilchair Brown. I don't see that any request has been made by Brown prior to his election, but just that staff were anticipating the need to provide a new vehicle.

    While there has been a lot of discussion on things such as the vehicle they got was too expensive and also why doesn't the new Chair drive their own car, the response by Howland is that they should do what has been done in the past, provide a vehicle chosen by the Council Chair. Am I reading this wrong?

  • Really

    @ Rake and the point is what? He's not his campaign manager. Don't fight me on this! Has he done some consultant work...ummm..maybe. But he has done consultant work on many campaigns.

  • TheAngryVoter

    @Really get serious dude, this is just a retarded attempt by Biddle to pull a veil over voters to get it.

    1.Biddle was endorsed by Mayor Gray & Kwame Brown
    2.Scandals happen now Biddle wants to claim independance.
    3.Brown has not voiced support for Biddle since but all his butt buddies on the council endorsed him
    4. He "challenges" Brown to pay $30,000 back to the city
    5.Catania, who no one on the council likes at this point, and has took pleasure in dragging others through the mud, has endorsed Biddle
    6.Kwame's Father is a "consultant" for his campaign

    the sequence of events are by far the most retarded, corrupt, and foolish moves anyone could involve themselves in for an election. Clearly Biddle is the guy Kwame asked "Hey, I need you to get maintain this seat, I'll endorse you, have the State Committee vote for you, and keep you into office so when we give Mayor Gray the boot, I can become Mayor, and have another support system on the council"

    This really grinds my gears that this fool Biddle is even in the same breath of DC Politics, because he sucks! Point Blank

    The ONLY way this guy can go from "Who The Hell Is He? Does He Even Know What Politics Means" to "At-Large Councilmember" is by someone putting his ass in that position.

    If he wanted to prove he wasn't apart of the establishment, he should run for Ward 4 Councilmember and get rid of Bowsers sorry self.

    No way in hell Biddle has the credentials or the knowledge on the issues to handle the current problems of the city. He is in a position and contributes no Substance. A Bird Brain, Empty Tank, He Wets The Bed & Asks his Daddy Kwame to clean it for him.

    No way im voting for a 2 & 1/2 month old political rookie. Hell Weaver has more knowledge than Biddle Fiddle Faddle, and would probably do better as a rookie than what Biddle can.

    Never thought I would see the day where there was a bunch of jokes to vote for and Orange was the only candidate out of the bunch that could help the city. DAMN YOU DC


  • Rake

    To be fair, The Angry Voter, all of the below (your words) can also be said of our incompetent council chair himself...I mean think about it.

    "No way in hell Biddle has the credentials or the knowledge on the issues to handle the current problems of the city. He is in a position and contributes no Substance. A Bird Brain, Empty Tank...."

    And thanks for explaining why folks may have raised eyebrows at Marshall Brown's involvement with the Biddle campaign. Really must just love the feeling of baby-soft wool covering his/her eyes.

  • Really

    Really dust off hat.

    Frist Kwame didn't ask Benedict Biddle to join nothing. He's been waiting in the wings like a girl waiting to jump in as the double dutch rope turns.

    Second there are a couple of things you must understand before entering politics. One, it's a contact sport and two you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.— Congressman William Clay, Sr.

    I say that to mean that VO set himself up for that. Therefore Benedict Biddle was the logical choice.

    Third, Sad but true I agree with you. Never liked the dude and thought Bowser's seat would have been better seat for him. He posses such a Fetyesque quality that he would have fit in. I also don't think that he has the credentials. I almost laughed when I read Catania's endoresement and this “Sekou's campaign has been gaining momentum with a string of endorsements and national recognition for his education reform efforts”

    My first thought was what reform?

    But when do credentials matter? We elected a Mayor who was a failed lawyer and stole money from old people.

    And that comes to my last point. Whether ya'll like the man on not Marshall has been doing the political game for decades and has done well both locally and nationally.

    So it's not like he isn't qulaified. Again to the question about Marshall working..consultating...and? What's the point?

  • Flabbergasted

    I'm not sure why no one is looking to the OCFO to explain why they approved of all of these expenditures (cars, salaries exceeding the legal limit, stints in the W Hotel)in the first place. If the OCFO does not approve payment, the expenditure cannot be made. Simple as that.

  • Really

    Oh and Angry Voter....ummmm

    So it was ok for Fenty to set-up the system. With Bower? He already had Evans, Catania, and Graham.

    Does anyone recall Victor Vandell? memba him? Yeah he was apart of the Friends of Fenty (FOB) Crew. Google "Fenty Allies Take Over Ward 7 Campaign" Jerome Brocks VV's
    former campaign manager resigned over FOB's involvement.

    My point is that the tactics aren't unusal...it is what it is.

  • http://deleted Etta

    Every body should get a Ford Fiesta. The Mayor is the only one who should get a special car because he has police protection.Every on else should get economy cars nothing that is expensive.

  • Really

    On number 3 "Brown has not voiced support for Biddle since but all his butt buddies on the council endorsed him"

    Well he hasn't thrown him under the bus...I see Kwame still has Benedict Biddle sign in his yard.

  • Richard notRich

    Hey Really

    dont you mean thrown him under the Brown-igator? whats with these council people and cars? and next time anyone discusses former mayor fenty's signature on a field in columbia heights, ....


  • WhataJoke

    Suderman or Debonis while you are investigating Richard notRich suggestions, please aske the council why they recently approved $4.1 million for an underground parking lot at Janney Elementary school in Ward 3?

    Here's the link to Cheh's website announcing the council's continued misuse of our fu$*king tax dollars (see para #4 ) !!!


  • Wendy Washington


    Thanks for the link, at the risk of sounding cynical, the first sentence tells you why: "As one of the District’s premier public schools, Janney Elementary School in Tenleytown..."

    It is an elementary school, so why do they need additional parking? Only the teachers and staff need parking --underground parking at that. I guess Janney did not lose too many staff when Attila the Rhee made all those cutbacks.

  • TheAngryVoter

    @Really the fact that Marshall himself is assiting in a campaign isn't the problem. Its what's behind that support that is.

    The Apple doesn't fall to far from the tree, and the simple fact that your SON, is a bird brain and is making these poor choices does not put it past me one bit that Marshall had influence over those decisions.

    The years that Kwame is in question about the campaign finances, Marshall also assisted him in the campaign.

    What you have to realize is that there is a theme behind every campaign season. It just so happens that this theme is about people in office swinging their weight around when our schools are in bad shape, our financial stability is shot, and we are involved in scandals that in return affect the residents.

  • TheAngryVoter

    @Really I hear what your saying, you raise some good points. All I am saying is that politicians need to use their brains when they think of these tactics.

    Atleast Barry did everything that jeproadized Barry himself and not so much the residents ahahaha. He wasn't spending taxpayers money on crack, or having his supporters try it with him, he HIMSELF absorbed those crazy actions.

    I understand everyone isn't perfect, thats a given. But if its situations that present themselves time and time again, you obviously dont give a damn about the law, or the people you talk with everyday are so enthusiastic about having favors that they will lick the dirt off your hands only to progress themselves ahahaha. Silly DC I tell ya

  • TheAngryVoter

    DC is in shambles and they make budget cuts & raise taxes


  • anonymous

    why is the dpw director portecting the procurment guy. i heard that lorraine green's son works for Howland under the procurement manager? and he has hired several fenty croonies who are still on the payroll, but do not show up!! sadd.