D.C. Council Argues Over Take-Home Furniture
In their first full session after the violent attack on the US Capitol, members of the DC Council spent considerable time debating whether they could take office furniture home with them.
Chairperson Phil Mendelson was the only vote to oppose the At-Large Council member’s suggestion Elissa Silverman Establish a system that allows councilors and their staff to bring home computer monitors, printers, and other office supplies. Most of the council’s staff have been working from home since March.
In a passionate argument with his colleagues, Mendelson warned that items would be damaged in transit or could never find their way back to the Wilson building.
“I think it looks bad to the council and I think there is a risk of abuse,” he told LL. “There is a high risk of damage and expense, as well as unintended consequences such as theft, and it will be difficult to make sure everything is returned.”
Right now, council offices can approve spending on inexpensive home office items like a $ 100 printer, instead of removing the fancy, expensive ones from the Wilson building, Mendelson says. Furniture is not allowed to leave the building.
Silverman says her requests to employees to take their work supplies home have been denied for months, and she volunteered during the meeting to find a solution.
“From my point of view, we’re wasting tax dollars buying some equipment for people that we can get out of the Wilson building,” she says. “[Mendelson] I made an argument for waste, fraud and abuse, and I said to the chairman, “Well, if that’s the concern, then there is a real trust issue here.”
Silverman proposes a solution whereby employees can “log off” certain devices, such as a computer monitor, but require special permission for other items, such as a desk. She distributed a memo to this effect last year that six other members had signed.
“If you have an ergonomic chair, I don’t see why you can’t bring this home,” says Silverman. “And if there is accidental damage, we will pay for it. But if you set it on fire or sell it on eBay, you have to pay. “
At its administrative meeting, the DC Council also discussed whether to move its domain from .us to .gov, allow concurrent hearings, and request a public safety brief from the mayor’s office later this week.
The three hour administrative meeting ended with no resolution to the disagreement over take-away furniture.
Now acting United States attorney for DC Michael Sherwin said at a press conference this afternoon that his office has charged more than 70 people with crimes related to the Capitol riot. Sherwin believes that number will increase and that investigators have identified at least 170 people who may have committed crimes relating to the Capitol. Possible charges range from trespassing to criminal offenses.
The existence of an FBI report warning of “war” in the Capitol was also made public today. The report, first reported by the Washington Post, was created on Jan. 5 and forwarded to other law enforcement agencies, but it wasn’t immediately clear who had received it.