The Cleavermobile--I want to know--does it smell like french fries? (Kansas City Star)
A report came out in the last couple days about the lease fees paid by the government to various members of Congress for their vehicles. Topping the list: Our own Missouri Fifth District House Representative Emanual Cleaver (D) with a $2,900 lease bill. He leases this converted minibus for that amount. The bus is handicap accessible, runs on vegetable oil and has enough room inside to meet around a table. More photos of the office/bus can be found at this link on heycameraman! Cleaver and his office say that he saves money with this, as the monthly cost on this plus his regular offices. An examination of his web site reveals the presence of two office addresses: 101 W 31 St in KCMO and 211 West Maple in Independence. He states in this article in the Kansas City Star that he does not lease a regular car or SVU/truck but leases this instead.
I might have bought the idea of a mobile office back in the "old days." But as a commenter on the Star article so pithily put it: "A mobile office is an assistant and a Blackberry. People in wheelchairs can just roll right up." Especially in light of there being two offices in the district, I think this is excessive and for show. "Look how accessible and ecologically friendly I am!" it shouts. I would be more impressed if he maintained regular office hours at his brick-and-mortar offices when he was in town. I would be more impressed if he made himself honestly available for interweb conferencing at regular times. I would be more impressed if he returned the phone calls from Shanin and Parks radio program on KMBZ.
There's a definite "throw the bums out!!!" feeling among people right now. The ten House members who lease expensive SUVs and Lexuses (how about an American car?) for greater than $10,000 a month are also feeling heat. I wonder if our elected officials are out of touch with the rest of us--living at a much higher level and not really understanding the pain of the common man. A House member or Senator might really have an understanding of the situation of the people, but the way they live insulates them and obscures their understanding of us and our understanding of them. I would encourage politicians to live as simply as they can, within the context of their responsibilities and real needs (e.g. security). That way, they can see us, and we can see them.