League urges transparency in DMPED emergency legislation

Letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson

April 25, 2016

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia (LWVDC) is concerned with the seeming lack of transparency regarding the emergency legislation on McMillan (PR21-0618 DMPED Procurement Reference Clarification Emergency Declaration Resolution) that was passed unanimously with very little public discussion on April 5th.  Although there was mention during the Council meeting of a discussion during an earlier breakfast meeting, the details of that discussion were not disclosed.

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation at all levels of government. The League further believes that governmental bodies must protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings, and making public records accessible. 

Given our commitment to ensuring good government, which requires adequate transparency, we request that members of the DC Council respond to the following questions:

  1. What was the rationale for creating an Emergency Resolution that will be in effect only 90 days?
  2. We understand the DC Auditor, in her letter to you on October 19, 2015 noted her office’s concerns about the expansion of the role and exclusive rights of the Vision McMillan Partners without following a competitive process. Was there discussion of this?  If so, what were the factors that led to the April 5th decision?
  3. The entire budget for DMPED this year is $65 million, of which more than half, $35 million, is designated for the McMillan site.  Do we know why such a big commitment was made without a competitive bid in the first place? And why continue to allow it now?

In the Council meeting the resolution was described as a singular event.  There is community concern about exemptions to requirements for competitive bids.  We hope that this truly is a singular event.

We would appreciate a prompt response.

Sincerely,

Linda Beebe, President

League of Women Voters, District of Columbia