- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon yesterday said he will ask the House Appropriations subcommittee for the District to investigate the links between D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few and a friend the chief hired as a consultant on three no-bid contracts totaling $23,500.
Mr. Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Congressional Fire and Emergency Medical Service Caucus, said D.C. firefighters are lacking necessary equipment. He said hiring a consultant for Chief Few was unnecessary.
The Washington Times reported Monday that Chief Few hired Carl Holmes & Associates for $23,500 on three sole-source contracts, and that Chief Few had worked for Mr. Holmes as an instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute. Chief Few had failed to disclose his affiliation with Mr. Holmes on his financial-disclosure statement. As a result, the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance is investigating.
"It appears it is something that requires further investigation. We have to have confidence in the city's top leaders, especially the fire department," Mr. Weldon said. "There is a lack of resources for the firefighters, and I have focused on getting them additional funds. They are being shortchanged."
Chris Close, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg, said the Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District plans to wait until the Office of Campaign Finance completes its investigation before he looks into the matter.
"The congressman is going to wait until the results of the investigation are finalized before moving forward," Mr. Close said.
Mr. Weldon said Chief Few has not provided the leadership the department needs to get additional resources for firefighters. He said the chief's use of department funds to hire an old friend as a consultant shows his lack of leadership.
"I have not seen that kind of leadership," Mr. Weldon said.
The congressman also criticized Chief Few on Sept. 21 for trying to interfere with efforts by D.C. firefighters to raise money for the families of firefighters killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The firefighters raised $293,000 in two days.
Lt. Raymond Sneed, president of the D.C. Fire Fighters Association Local 36, said he warned Chief Few about Mr. Holmes' past work for the District at a meeting in Augusta, Ga., on July 4, 2000. The meeting with Chief Few prior to his taking over the department was an attempt to warn him of some of the pitfalls, Lt. Sneed said.
Lt. Sneed disputed Chief Few's contention that he was unaware Mr. Holmes helped develop a fire department promotional examination that was criticized by the D.C. auditor in 1995 for being filled with errors.
"I talked to him about the problems we had with the promotional exam and the part Carl Holmes played. I didn't realize the close relationship between the two," Lt. Sneed said.
He said people who should not have been were promoted.
"I've felt the effects of his work for quite a while. He came in here back in the '80s and is responsible for the 1990 exam where half the questions had to be rejected," Lt. Sneed said.
Chief Few said in an interview Thursday that he was unaware of the problems with the test and with the auditor's report. He said through fire department spokeswoman Lisa Bass that he would not comment on Lt. Sneed's statement because of the ongoing investigation.
The D.C. auditor found that the portion of the test developed by Mr. Holmes had numerous mistakes, including listing equipment the D.C. Fire Department did not use and establishing fire scenarios with inadequate personnel and equipment. The auditor also found that the test was filled grammatical and typographical errors.
Mr. Holmes said in an interview last week that the auditor found fault with the test because the city does not want to improve its fire service.
Mr. Holmes identifies himself as "Dr. Holmes" in the literature for the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, as does the auditor's report. But Mr. Holmes holds an honorary doctorate from a defunct Texas college
Chief Few said that he did not know Mr. Holmes did not hold a doctorate and that he has been calling him "Dr. Holmes."
Besides the relationship between Chief Few and Mr. Holmes, The Times found discrepancies in the way Mr. Holmes was hired as a consultant. The Times found that on two instances Mr. Holmes billed the fire department weeks before requisitions were begun. In justifying his costs, the fire department compared Mr. Holmes' daily fees for 13 days of work with fees charged by George Washington University.
City documents show that a $6,000 contract was for training chiefs in design and development, and a $15,000 contract was for "team building" for the department's top officials. There were no documents for the remaining $2,500.

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