Fight Over Fire Truck Heats Up
Two District council members are calling on Fenty administration officials to detail their travel from December through February as part of a growing inquiry into how and why surplus fire apparatus was donated to a town in the Dominican Republic.
In a letter to Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Ghandi, council members Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) ask for a "detailed accounting of every travel expenditure incurred by the Executive Office of the Mayor and every subordinate agency" during the time period.
The two have also asked the inspector general to investigate.
Surplus city equipment is often auctioned off.
But the Washington Examiner reported last week that the city turned over a fire truck, valued at $270,000, and the ambulance, valued at $70,000, to the nonprofit group Peaceoholics, which then donated the equipment to the Dominican beach town of Sosúa.
City officials have now called the equipment back.
Council members are trying to uncover the extent of the city's involvement in the transfer. In an editorial in this morning's Washington Post, Mendelson called it a "scandal that's burgeoning."
According to the council members, Deputy Chief Ronald Gill Jr. traveled to Dominican Republic related to the transfer of the equipment. Mendelson and Cheh believe other city officials were also involved based on testimony they received at a council hearing Wednesday.
Attorney General Peter J. Nickles released a report today saying that there was no wrongdoing in the donation of the equipment, outlining past donations by the city of old equipment both locally and abroad. But, Nickles added, because the donation had been the subject of significant public comment and discussion he had called back the equipment "out of an abundance of caution."
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