The Washington Post

Evans puts Gray, Brown on notice; fears ‘late-night’ jokes

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has issued a biting critique of recent controversies involving Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, telling his constituents that “everyone in the city” has been “taken aback by the events.”

In regular e-mail update titled “Jack’s Newsletter,” the chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue wrote “it has not been a good two weeks for the District.”

“At a time when the city is struggling to balance its budget and show Wall Street and the new Republican Congress that we are acting responsibly, these revelations have done nothing to bolster the District's image,” wrote Evans, who represents Shaw, Dupont Circle, Downtown, Foggy Bottom and Georgetown.

Evans details in his letter Brown’s decision to request a “fully loaded” Lincoln Navigator SUV as well as recent stories about the high salaries Gray is paying some top staffers. Evans also rehashes the Fox 5 (WTTG) story about the expensive trips being taken by Allen Sessoms, the president of the University of the District of Columbia.

After The Washington Post reported on Brown’s leased SUV, he asked the Department of Public Works to return it. But it remains unclear whether the city will be able to get out of its lease. According to the Washington Examiner, the city has already paid $17,000 on the SUV, as well as a prior car that Brown asked to be sent back because he did not like the color or its interior . 

In his e-mail, Evans challenges Brown to reimburse the city for all costs associated with the car.

“Whatever cost the city incurs must be paid by Kwame Brown and not the taxpayers,” Evans wrote. “If it means paying the city $17,000, so be it.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Brown pledged to reimburse the city for costs associated with the time he had the vehicle. But he declined to commit to paying the city $17,000, saying he wasn’t sure whether the Examiner story was true.

Last year, Evans supported former mayor Adrian M. Fenty over Gray in the mayor’s race. But Evans has maintained a cordial relationship with both Gray and Brown, even though Brown removed him as chairman pro tem of the council this year and replaced him with council member Mary M. Cheh (D).

Evans’s letter, however, signals a new, more aggressive posture in speaking out against the chairman and the mayor.

“Let's hope that the events are one time lapses in judgment and are not repeated,” Evans wrote in his concluding paragraph. “The District cannot afford to once again become the butt of late night television jokes.  It took many of us too long to undo the damage the last time this happened.”

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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