- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2001

D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few yesterday told the D.C. Council he would continue to use a contractor whose affiliation with the chief is the subject of a city ethics investigation.
During the hearing on departmental personnel issues, Chief Few said he had never been employed by or received a paycheck from the consulting firm Carl Holmes & Associates, but told the council he "would like to use [Carl Holmes] again" if needed.
"I think that the Washington, D.C., fire department deserves good instructors to come in," Chief Few said. "I think it would be a plus for us."
But from his home in Oklahoma City yesterday, Mr. Holmes said: "I have no intention of ever coming back to the District of Columbia to work."
The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance is investigating Chief Few's ties to the contractor after The Washington Times reported this week that the chief failed to disclose his affiliation with Mr. Holmes in his financial disclosure statement. The chief awarded three no-bid contracts totaling $23,500 to Mr. Holmes' consulting company.
D.C. disclosure laws require city officials to declare their affiliations with city contractors and payments from contractors of more than $100. Filing false financial-disclosure statements can be punished by fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail, according to the D.C. Code.
Chief Few said he has no intention of resigning and has the full support of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
Chief Few described work he had done as an instructor for Mr. Holmes' Executive Development Institute in New Orleans occasionally over the past 10 years as "a way of giving back something to the fire service," saying he was honored to be asked to participate in the insitute's seminars.
He said free lodging and meals he received were nothing more than a dormitory room and cafeteria food at Dillard University.
The fire chief also denied a charge made during the testimony of Lt. Ray Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, who said Chief Few would like to use Mr. Holmes as a consultant for the D.C. fire department's 2002 promotional exam.
Mr. Holmes received $192,000 for his part in developing the 1990 promotional exam, which was criticized in a 1995 D.C. auditor's report for being filled with errors.
Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked Chief Few to explain why he hired three former colleagues from Georgia after assuring the council this spring he would not when council members gave him authority to make four non-competitive hires from outside the department.
He said his former colleagues Assistant Chief Gary Garland, Deputy Chief Bruce Cowan and Assistant Chief Marcus Anderson brought "similar mind-thinking" to his own and were qualified despite having come from a 90-member force in East Point, Ga.
"Big or little don't make a difference," Chief Few said. "I can take a 10,000-member department and make it work."
The District has about 1,600 emergency workers.
Union leaders testified that departmental problems stem from a lack of leadership.
Kenneth Lyons, president of the medics union, accused Chief Few of engaging in "preferential treatment" in his hiring practices.
"Virtually no one in [emergency services] knows what this department requires for promotion," Mr. Lyons said.
Lt. Sneed said his union is preparing legal action to undo several merit promotions Chief Few has made at the training academy and in the Fire Prevention Division.
"When you're picking and choosing based on likes and dislikes, what you're going to end up with is a lawsuit," he said.
The chief also responded to reports that D.C. firefighters tried to take gear owned by Arlington County during the rescue and recovery effort after the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, which is in Arlington County.
"I've asked everyone, and no one can tell me what's missing," the chief said.
Chief Few said that it isn't uncommon for equipment at incidents that big to go missing, and that the District lost equipment he plans to bill the federal government for.
He said he plans to meet with Arlington officials to discuss their stolen equipment next week.

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