- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2002

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp yesterday said Mayor Anthony A. Williams must dispel "the cloud" over Fire Chief Ronnie Few, in whom the mayor has publicly expressed disappointment over the fire department's resume scandal.
Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said she would not be comfortable signing a petition calling for Mr. Williams to fire the chief. The petition was drafted by council member Adrian M. Fenty and has been circulating among the council since Monday.
Mrs. Cropp said she is waiting to see an evaluation of Chief Few being conducted by the mayor's office. "If [Chief Few] is to be judged, it must be on substantive issues within the [fire] department," she said.
The council leaders said problems with the radio and dispatch systems, the inadequate reserve fleet of firetrucks, deteriorating facilities and delays in hazardous-materials training are the real issues.
"But even with those issues, we must consider that some of these things existed before he got here," Mrs. Cropp said. "We need to judge him on what he is doing to fix pre-existing problems and the problems that have come about on his watch."
Mr. Fenty said Chief Few comes up lacking in either case. He said the chief broke his promise to the council by hiring friends to fill key positions in the fire department and tried to deceive the Judiciary Committee about the condition of the reserve fleet.
The Ward 4 Democrat said he is upset that the chief has made no plans or appropriated any funds in the 2003 budget to renovate several of the city's crumbling firehouses.
Three other council members have signed Mr. Fenty's petition: Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat; Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat; and Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican. Mrs. Schwartz and Mrs. Ambrose were the only two council members who voted against hiring Chief Few in 2000.
"We revised our letter [Tuesday], and we will be actively pursuing more signatures from other members," Mr. Fenty said yesterday.
Mr. Graham yesterday said he was "praying the mayor would do the right thing."
Council member Kathy Patterson, whose Judiciary Committee oversees the fire department, has said she will not sign the petition. "The responsibility for the fire chief resides with the mayor and not with anyone else," the Ward 3 Democrat said.
Mrs. Patterson said she has no intention of supporting anything that would have the council doing the mayor's job for him.
"There needs to be a conclusion to this, and the mayor needs to either stand up and back this chief or replace him," she said. "I urge him to make a decision quickly."
Mr. Williams was traveling in Europe yesterday and could not be reached for comment. City government sources have said Chief Few is expected to resign.
The Washington Times first reported March 13 that Chief Few's top three appointees lied on their resumes about having held the rank of chief in their previous jobs in the East Point, Ga., Fire Department.
The resumes of Assistant Chief Gary L. Garland, Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan and Assistant Chief Marcus R. Anderson also contained false statements saying they attended Dillard University in New Orleans, which has no record of their enrollment.
City officials say Chief Few and his aides have received "appropriate disciplinary action" following a six-week investigation but have not divulged how the firefighters have been punished.

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