- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson said yesterday that metropolitan fire officials must explain why they are paying a deputy chief $105,000 a year to do little more than count radios.
"If, in fact, he is still counting radios … anybody making more than $100,000 needs to be doing important work," said Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mrs. Patterson comments follow a Washington Times story yesterday that said Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan, who was disciplined for lying on his resume, is being paid $105,000 a year despite being moved from fire marshal to a non-supervisory job in the department's radio shop.
Employee including the District's fire and emergency medical services departments said Chief Cowan, a friend and appointee of former Fire Chief Ronnie Few, is "counting radios."
As a result, Mrs. Patterson said she wants an audit of District salaries exceeding $100,000 to become part of February's budget review.
Chief Cowan's salary has upset some firefighters because acting Chief Adrian Thompson has said that excessive overtime has forced him to cut services.
Chief Thompson has not returned phone calls and could not be reached for comment. Mr. Cowan has declined to comment.
Council members Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, and Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, also questioned why Chief Cowan remains on the payroll.
"I think they need to evaluate exactly what everybody is doing, who is making more than $100,000," Mrs. Ambrose said. "They need to evaluate whether there is a genuine contribution."
Mr. Fenty said that Chief Cowan is an appointee who serves at the pleasure of Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Chief Thompson, and whose job could be terminated at any time.
"We don't have the funds to give anybody a payoff position," Mr. Fenty said. "If we are trying to get rid of him, we should just get rid of him."
Firefighters voiced similar sentiments.
"Every day this guy stays will make it more difficult to get rid of him," a firefighter said. "We're in a fiscal crisis, and he is there counting radios. We could get someone else to do that job."
Lt. Ray Sneed, president of D.C. Fire Fighters Local 36, said that Chief Few created other positions such as grant writer, public information officer and executive secretary that Chief Thompson should evaluate before cutting services.
Chief Cowan is the last holdover from Chief Few, who resigned in July after a Times story that revealed a pattern of mismanagement and cronyism in his administration.
"We cannot look the other way," Lt. Sneed said. "It is not going to go away."
Few appointee Assistant Chief Gary L. Garland resigned in May, and Few appointee Assistant Chief Marcus R. Anderson resigned in July with Chief Few.
Chiefs Anderson, Cowan and Garland were disciplined for falsely stating on their resumes that they were chiefs for Chief Few in East Point, Ga., as reported March 13 by The Times.
Chief Cowan was a chief while acting as the city's fire marshal, but it was a title rather than a rank.

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