WTOP Radio (FM 103.5) reported that Chief Ellerbe, while living in Sarasota since August 2009, was still getting a homestead exemption - a property tax break for residents - on a home he owns in the District.
Asked about the exemption and why he had not notified the city’s Office of Tax and Revenue that the D.C. address was no longer his principal address, Chief Ellerbe said he did not know that his accountant had not done it and he would rectify the situation.
If confirmed, Chief Ellerbe will inherit a fire department rife with internal turmoil and struggling to fulfill its mission to provide emergency medical services. The department has been plagued by overspending, accusations of inconsistent discipline and racial inequality.
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and Justice, which oversees the police and fire departments, said he was “pleased” with Mr. Gray’s public-safety picks.
He said he expected that Chief Ellerbe’s departure arrangement had been examined by the mayor-elect’s staff and that the retirement arrangement and his tax status would come up during D.C. Council confirmation hearings.
Mr. Mendelson indicated that he had little concern about those issues.
“I’m interested in a good chief who understands fire suppression, is committed to improving EMS and is going to bring some much-needed management to that department in terms of overtime, discipline, race relations - and that’s what we’re getting,” Mr. Mendelson said.
Introducing Chief Lanier, Mr. Gray noted first that she had scored an 80 percent approval rating in a recent public poll. He went on to compliment the chief on “the great progress in reducing crime and violence that she and the police force have achieved.”
Under Chief Lanier, homicides in the city once widely derided as the “murder capital” of the U.S. have dropped to the lowest levels in decades.
Standing at the podium, Mr. Gray declined to discuss whether he had considered other candidates for police chief.
“The person who’s being appointed is the person behind me,” he said.
“We’re disappointed,” Mr. Baumann said, calling the decision to retain Chief Lanier “political.” Mr. Baumann, who has been a persistent critic of the chief’s, and the union were early and vocal supporters of Mr. Gray.
Mr. Baumann said that in their discussions during the mayoral campaign, Mr. Gray never committed to replacing the chief, but he said the candidate had told him he would listen to the union’s concerns and weigh them.
Mr. Baumann said he doesn’t feel that happened.View Entire Story
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Matthew Cella is The Washington Times’ Metro editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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