- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2002

D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few yesterday told the D.C. Council that top city officials have directed him not to answer questions about whether three of his top appointees lied about their professional and educational experience in their resumes and employment applications.
"I've been asked by the city administrator not to release anything," Chief Few said in response to a question about the resumes from council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
But City Administrator John Koskinen denied having instructed Chief Few not to talk about the resumes.
"We have not asked anybody not to say anything," Mr. Koskinen told The Washington Times in a telephone interview.
Mr. Koskinen said he has formed a group to collect and examine data to verify the credentials of Chief Few's appointees, but added that Chief Few is not prohibited from discussing the issue.
The Times first reported last week that the resumes of Assistant Chief Gary L. Garland, Assistant Chief Marcus R. Anderson and Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan say they each held the rank of chief at the East Point, Ga., Fire Department. But none of them ever rose higher than the rank of lieutenant, according to East Point's city attorney and the former fire chief.
The resumes also say they attended universities that have no record of their enrollments.
Council member Adrian M. Fenty yesterday said Chief Few's failure to respond to questions about the matter was "disappointing and unsatisfying." The Ward 4 Democrat said he had several questions prompted by constituent concerns that he had planned to ask Chief Few regarding his top assistants.
"It has surprised me how many pieces of correspondence I have received on it, and it is because of statements like this that citizens want to make sure we have a government that's clean and meritorious," Mr. Fenty said.
Mrs. Patterson said she didn't want to dismiss the possibility that high-ranking officials in the fire department had lied about their credentials. "It appears to me, Chief Few, that you are being hung out to dry by your superiors," she added.
Chief Few told Mrs. Patterson that he believes Mr. Koskinen's investigation will have a "favorable outcome" and that he will brief the council on it "very soon."
Mr. Koskinen said he expects the investigation to be completed by the end of next week. He said the chiefs are not likely to lose their jobs over the discrepancies in the resumes, but added that disciplinary action is still an option, depending on what the investigation reveals.
According to a document obtained from the East Point City Attorney's Office under Georgia's open-records law, Chief Cowan was assigned as "fire marshal" in 1993 and promoted to lieutenant in 1998. Chief Garland was assigned as "training officer" in 1993 and promoted to lieutenant in 1998. Chief Anderson was assigned as "EMS coordinator" and promoted to sergeant in 1998.
Chief Cowan's resume says he was "chief fire marshal" at East Point; Chief Garland's says he was "training chief"; and Chief Anderson's says he was "chief emergency medical services division."
A consent decree governing promotion tests barred the three firefighters from applying for chief positions because they were not qualified, East Point City Attorney David Couch said. To become a chief, a firefighter first must attain the rank of captain, then pass a test to become a battalion chief.
Chief Few has said that The Times' report was false and that he appointed the three firefighters to the rank of chief when he was the head of East Point's fire department. However, he has not produced any documentation to refute the report.
Chief Few also said he did not check the credentials of his three appointees because he knew each of them.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams last week said he supports Chief Few and expressed concern about the report, saying a small group is trying to undermine the chief.
Chief Few, who was hired as the District's fire chief in 2000, appointed his three aides during the past two years under an arrangement with the D.C. Council that allowed him to make the appointments without competition.
The East Point Fire Department has about 110 workers. The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has 1,920 employees.

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