Debate rages over official's fancy SUV; Transit-oriented development urged

February 23, 2011 - 08:17 PM
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DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown may have decided to turn back the "fully loaded" Lincoln Navigator his staff was insisting upon, but the controversy surrounding his use of city funds has continued unabated.

Mayor Vince Gray was peppered with questions about Brown's demand for a high-priced SUV at his news conference today -- and by the end he told reporters he'd be quite happy for the city to return to the leasing company both the vehicle Brown is giving up (the one with the black interior) and the one he rejected, the Lincoln with the now-famous gray interior.

The dust-up comes at a time when city leaders are trying to figure out to close a half-billion dollar budget gap. It you want an indication of how this issue has resonated through the city in just a matter of days, check the media coverage of the issue. Every article, it seems, has way more reader feedback than one normally sees -- often several hundred responses. Several of Brown's colleagues have criticized the Chairman or have spoken to him about the controversy.

This was our first topic on NewsTalk today. You can see the first part of my interview with Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post and Alan Suderman of City Paper today at 8:30pm. Part two is here:

We also talked about the InterCounty Connector, which opened today in Montgomery County.

A coalition of environmental groups in Maryland is urging state leaders to adopt "smarter" development standards. They say housing and construction approvals in the future should be granted with more of an eye toward transit -- and they claim a new poll suggests the public is with them. Although they say the timing of the new survey is just a coincidence, the opening of the ICC, a traditional outer-suburb multi-lane highway, gives the issue a certain relevance.

Our replay also includes a conversation with Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland, an environmental group.

Thursday at 10am: Analysis of Mayor Gray's press conference; the impact a federal government shutdown would have locally; and the White House decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

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