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D.C. audit finds unpaid parking fines for cars assigned to Fenty, Rhee

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are among city employees whose assigned vehicles have racked up unpaid parking and traffic fines, according to a new D.C. Auditor's report that found poor monitoring of the city's fleet, the employees authorized to drive city vehicles and fuel cards.

A vehicle assigned to the mayor currently has $770 in unpaid fines while a vehicle designated for Rhee has $345. "As of the date of this report, the fines had not been paid," auditor Deborah K. Nichols wrote.

In addition, the auditor's office sampled five of the city's 78 agencies and found 685 unpaid fines, totaling $71,690, since 2002. The agencies -- D.C. Public Schools, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Child and Family Services Agency, the Department of Health and the Department of Employment Services -- explained to the auditor that the fines "were not paid because the agency could not consistently identify the employee who was assigned to use the vehicle when parking and traffic fines were issued."

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Among those same five agencies, 15 vehicles not listed as being government-owned or leased received $27,395 worth of fuel in fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The auditor found that a technology used by some departments that identify vehicles being fueled could prevent such problems.

The auditor's office also looked at a fuel card assigned to Fenty, finding that a Metropolitan Police Department employee used the card on Oct. 3, 2009, in Randallstown, 47 miles away in Maryland. But since the card "did not have the vehicle identification feature, it could not be determined whether the MPD employee used the Mayor's fuel card to refuel a government owned or leased vehicle assigned to the Mayor."

In that same period, the city paid out nearly $1 million in automobile damage claims for accidents incurred by employees in those agencies and the Department of Public Works, according to the report.

One $5,000 claim involved an employee in the Department of Parks and Recreation who failed to "keep in proper lane," according to a police report. The employee was on the way to attend "Bible Study."

The employee's supervisor wrote in a report that similar accidents would be prevented because "Made sure all vehicle's mirrors are tighten and remind drivers to be extra careful."

Nichols said in her report, "Clearly an employee who failed to stay in the proper lane required defensive driver training, not a mirror adjustment or a reminder to be 'extra careful.'"

The Fleet Management Administration, a division of the Department of Public Works, is in charge of overseeing more than 2,635 vehicles, but the department does not keep a list of all city employees authorized to operate government vehicles. In fact, the city lacks uniform policies for all employees.

William O. Howland Jr., director of public works, wrote in a letter to Nichols that several departments, including the Mayor's Office, have been working on a revised "Vehicle Operator's Accountability policy."

Nichols said in an interview that she is still recommending a uniform policy for all departments based on her office's findings. Fleet management "remains decentralized and not well-managed under that operating structure," she said.

By Nikita Stewart  |  April 23, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart , transportation  
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The ticket remain unpaid because it's illegal to use government money to pay fines. let them cut a DC gov't purchase order to pay them and the balances would be swept away.

As for the parking tickets, it's a waste of time. i never understood it. Why would City meter readers ticket government cars if they are on known government business? It's stupid. It's like DC taxing itself.

Little known fact, DC government does not reimburse employees that use their own cars for mileage. They act like it is an unknown expense. yet, many DC employee drive themselves to meetings and site non-metro accessible.

Posted by: oknow1 | April 23, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Didn't ya know? Rules/Laws don't apply to fenty and Co.! I wonder how much hush money he paid to the person whose car he damaged during that midnite mash-up last year? You know, the one where different officers produced different accounts of the accident?

Lying, stealing, and cheating are the order of the day. Who knew membership in fenty's circle would have such privileges?!

Posted by: schooletal | April 23, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Fenty and his people seem to forget that they are public SERVANTS, not Royalty who are above the law. Illegal parking is inconsiderate and dangerous to other drivers.
How about using Chauffeurs? They could keep the vehicles in motion when Fenty and Rhee make short stops or visits. They have cell phones. Can't the recall driver using their phones?
Fenty has been a big disappointment.

Posted by: peterroach | April 23, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I understand why Mayor Fenty has an assigned vehicle and would even understand if it were not subject to fines like Members of Congress in D.C. when on official business. My question is why Michelle Rhee has a vehicle assigned to her at all. I don't recall Chancellors or Superintendents of other school counties or districts having vehicles paid for by their locality.

Posted by: lawstudentnyc | April 23, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

What idiot put a parking ticket on the Mayor's government car in the first place? SOme of the people working as ticket writers really have zero commonsense. I have literally seen marked DC police cars with parking tickets on them. That is a waste of time and money to have a ticket writer out meeting his or her quota by putting parking tickets on police cars.

Posted by: PepperDr | April 23, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The ticket idiots will give you a ticket regardless of whether you deserve one.

I've contested them, and then never hear back--and then see them appear as delinquencies on my credit reports!

Posted by: chunche | April 23, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Why is a government employee using a government car to go to "Bible study"?

Posted by: sheckycat | April 23, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I have defended Fenty and Rhee in the past, but this is disturbing. They seem to think the rules don't apply to them. And these are leaders and role models for children?

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | April 23, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

to lawstudentnyc: I've said the same thing before: superintendents in surrounding jurisdictions don't have cars provided them. Rhee also has a driver to go along with that car. She's in charge of schools, not Queen Elizabeth II! Buy your own car, make your own car payments and drive your own self--just like your employees do who make a lot less money!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | April 23, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

You guys didn't know. Fenty is the King of the Jews. Laws, to him, are made to be broken. For himself and his "court".

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | April 25, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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