WAMU 88.5 : News

D.C. Council Approves Controversial Parking Meter Contract

On Tuesday the D.C. Council approved a contract for the maintenance of the city's parking meters, but it did not happen without controversy.
On Tuesday the D.C. Council approved a contract for the maintenance of the city's parking meters, but it did not happen without controversy.

On Tuesday the D.C. Council approved a $33 million parking meter contract, setting aside a debate that had exposed what some critics say is the pervasive "pay-to-play" political culture in D.C.

The contract for the maintenance of the meters was awarded to Xerox in 2012, but protested by the losing bidder, Rockville-based WorldWide Parking. After an appeals board backed the city's decision to award the contract to Xerox, the debate became more political, with Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) coming to WorldWide Parking's defense.

In letters to city officials and at a hearing earlier this week, Orange insisted that he was only concerned about money: WorldWide Parking's bid was substantially cheaper than Xerox's, he argued, and those savings could be funneled into important social programs.

But critics pointed to something else: the $42,500 in bundled campaign contributions Orange had received from the company since 2010, $20,000 of which came within the last month and were destined for his mayoral campaign.

The Council recently banned the bundling of campaign contributions — when separate entities located at the same address and largely controlled by the same person give money — but the change does not take effect until 2015.

At a legislative session on Tuesday, Orange continued to insist that he was merely looking out for the city's best financial interests, an argument that convinced only Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who joined Orange in voting against the contract. The Council's 11 other members, though, voted for it, including Council member David Grosso (I-At Large), who up until this point has abstained on votes on contracts over concerns that the practice breeds corruption.

During the session, Orange rejected claims that he could "be bought for contributions" and blamed the media for focusing solely on the campaign donations, which he called a “sexy” issue.


Marlon James Wins Man Booker Prize

James is the first Jamaican author to win the prestigious literary award, for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. It's based on a real 1976 assassination attempt on reggae star Bob Marley.
WAMU 88.5

Behind America's Seasonal Crush On Pumpkin

This year, a national shortage of the orange squash threatens to derail America's favorite seasonal obsession.

WAMU 88.5

Ta-Nehisi Coates On Race, Justice And Finding A Voice In Local D.C.

Few writers and public intellectuals command an audience like one currently following Ta-Nehisi Coates. But long before Coates' thoughts shaped nationwide conversations about race, justice and the black experience in America, he found his voice as a young writer in local D.C. and in the city where he grew up, Baltimore.


Twitter's Suspension of Sports Media Revives Debate Over Fair Use

Twitter is going after news media that share highlights of U.S. football games without sports organizations' permission. The move shines a spotlight on the notion of fair use of copyrighted content.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.