Fenty Learned of Emergency Vehicle Donations Through Media

Council members consider formal investigation

WASHINGTON -- D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty learned of the donation of a surplus fire truck and ambulance through the media, he revealed Tuesday, a day after sources said the deal was initiated by lawyers in his office. 

Those lawyers requested the D.C. Office of Contracting Procurement's special rule that allowed the city to donate surplus supplies to Peaceoholics so that the anti-youth violence organization could donate the vehicles originally worth $340,000 to a beach town in the Dominican Republic, sources said. Chief Procurement Officer David Gragan knew little about the donation of surplus property, he said, but Nancy Hapemen, the general counsel for surplus property, said lawyers in Mayor Adrian Fenty's office made the donation request.

Last week, Attorney General Peter Nickles said the donation was not improper -- head Peaceoholic Ron Moten echoed the sentiment Monday --  but it continues to raise questions -- and ire -- among some D.C. Council members.

"Whether or not that was a good idea, it certainly doesn't appear to have been illegal in any way," Fenty said.

Council Judiciary Committee Chairman Phil Mendelson inquired about the donation last week but wasn't satisfied. He and Government Operations Chair Mary Cheh drafted letters demanding that the inspector general investigate and that the investigation includes three months of travel records in the mayor's office.

Cheh and Mendelson are considering a special investigative committee with subpoena power to answer their questions about the deal.

The 10-year-old vehicles were decommissioned as surplus and worth a fraction of their original value. Usually, they'd go to auction, but instead, they were donated to the small beach town of Sosua.

Nickles ordered the gift canceled, and the vehicles are back in D.C.

Mendelson tracked down the vehicles Monday and noticed the truck had about 55,000 miles on it, not 197,000 as he had previously been told. He traveled to Southwest but learned the vehicles were moved to a Northeast lot, so he tracked them down there.

"I don't know how much they're worth," Fenty said Tuesday. "I don't know how much mileage is on them. I do know that they're in the possession of the District of Columbia government."

In February, a Dominican Republic newspaper highlighted the gift and showed some D.C. Fire officials visiting. The story said District workers would also be coming later to show how to use the equipment.

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