Last Thursday, D.C. Council members grilled city officials about just what kind of vehicle the council’s chairman ought to have — if any.

“It is my firm belief that, with the exception of the mayor, no one [in city government] needs a car,” said Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). The hearing also took up the issue of whether, if you allow that the chairman should have a car, it might be an SUV, which are allowed under District law only for “security, emergency, rescue” or snow removal uses.

All this, of course, was prompted by revelations that city officials ordered Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) not one but two “fully loaded” Lincoln Navigators.

Turns out this is not a new debate. In fact, questions over the chairman’s automobile date back to mere weeks after the District’s first home rule government was seated.

On Feb. 7, 1975, Mayor Walter E. Washington issued Mayor’s Order 75-25, which held that the council chairman — Sterling Tucker, at the time — was entitled to a city car, in recognition of the “special character, duties, and responsibilities of the position of Chairman of the Council ... as well as the fact that the Chairman of the Council has critical public safety responsibilities which require him to be available at all times, thus necessitating emergency communication capability.”

“The Chairman of the Council is on call 24 hours, 7 days a week,” the order continued. Hence, “These duties and the other vital responsibilities of the office require the assignment of a vehicle for his full time-use.”

So there you have it, Mr. Chairman — your “vital responsibilities” would appear to entitle you to an SUV. Political reality, however, might have other demands.

District of Columbia Mayor’s Order 75-25