D.C., Snowstorms, And Graft

Oh my! Fortunately, D.C. hasn’t had much in the way of snow this year (boldface mine):

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s administration spent more than $40 million on snow removal for a single major storm last year, hiring contractors at whatever price they named and paying nearly $700,000 for hotel rooms and meals for workers in violation of federal procurement law, according to an audit….

JPMorgan Chase took the unprecedented step of shutting off the District’s line of credit until some of the card balances could be paid, as The Washington Post reported last year.

In a letter to D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who requested the audit released Wednesday, D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson wrote that the costs, combined with the violation of federal rules, raise doubts about how much the federal government might reimburse the District under a federal disaster declaration that was issued by President Obama.

The hourly rates paid for dump trucks, loaders, drivers and other support were often far in excess of past practice. They could be inconsistent. Some contractors were paid as much as 77 percent more than others for using the same type of equipment and providing the same services.

Officials at the city’s Department of Public Works “indicated that they did not seek to negotiate costs at all, and merely engaged independent contractors at the price they offered,” the audit said.

“It appears likely that the District paid substantially more than was necessary for snow removal services and the failure to set maximum prices or engage in negotiations raises the possibility that such overpayment will occur in the future,” the report said.

Patterson urged city leaders to negotiate with contractors before winter arrives and create controls on how much the contractors are paid….

The costly scramble resulted in part from the city’s having a combined 143 city-owned and contractor plows at the onset of the storm, just over half the number required under the city’s snow plan.

Of course, Mayor Bowser is true to form:

Some of the companies that received the most generous compensation have made large political donations to the mayor as well as to a now-defunct political action committee created on her behalf.

Among them was Fort Myer Construction, which was paid more than $5 million for providing dump trucks and other services. Bowser’s administration has been battling accusations that it unsuccessfully tried to steer contracts for stadium work to Fort Myer.

The company was paid $265 an hour for each of its dump trucks — $100 more than city guidelines allowed for such work in the past, and as much as $115 more an hour than the city paid to some other major contractors for the same equipment….

The audit also found that the District hired Capitol Paving — another contractor — at two different rates for identical services. The hourly rate paid to Capitol Paving for dump trucks retained during the storm was double the rate that the city had agreed to pay earlier in the year to have trucks on retainer for the job. Calls to Capitol Paving were not immediately returned Wednesday. The owners of Capitol Paving and Fort Myer Construction have family ties.

If Fort Myer Construction wanted to build a pit and sacrifice children to Moloch in it, Bowser would find the money.

Bowser’s response?

Asked about the audit, Bowser (D) said she had not yet seen it, even though her administration submitted a detailed written response to the auditor two weeks ago.

Hard to see how she is any less corrupt than Vince Gray was. Bowser just hides it better.

Democrats would do well to ensure she doesn’t try to parlay her current position into a national one.

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