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D.C. Council Scrutinizes 'Fully-Loaded' SUVs

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Several weeks after Kwame R. Brown was elected D.C. Council chairman in November, city officials were asked to order for him a "fully-loaded" Lincoln Navigator L.
Patrick Madden
Several weeks after Kwame R. Brown was elected D.C. Council chairman in November, city officials were asked to order for him a "fully-loaded" Lincoln Navigator L.

There was uproar earlier this year when it was reported the city council chairman had leased not one, but two expensive, "fully-loaded" Lincoln Navigators.

Bill Howland, the head of the city's Department of Public Works, testified Thursday before the city council that he should have questioned some of the luxury options requested: the entertainment system, the aluminum wheels, etc.

But Howland defended giving Council Chairman Kwame Brown an SUV, even though the law says those vehicles should only be leased for security reasons or other special circumstances.

"In the event that the mayor becomes incapacitated, that he is the second leading official, he would become the mayor. If necessary, he would need an emergency vehicle, I made the determination that an SUV was warranted," says Howland.

Howland also says the two Navigators have been returned. But it's unclear how much it's going to cost to break the leases.

D.C. has paid one leasing company $17,000, and that company is refusing to give any money back.

And the other one has filed for $12,000 in damages against the city for breaking the lease.

A spokesperson for Brown says the chairman will pay for one month's use of Navigator he was driving.

CORRECTION: This story originally stated that Bill Howland testified before the council today. He testified Thursday.

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