DC vehicles returned with less mileage than reported; Fire officials ordered not to testify

Dave Statter

WASHINGTON — A lot of developments on Monday in the ongoing story of a fire engine and ambulance that almost made it to a beach resort in the Dominican Republic. Both are back in the District of Columbia, but as council member Phil Mendelson discovered, one thing isn't quite as he had been told at a hearing last week.

On Wednesday, DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin testified the 11-year-old (1998) Seagrave pumper "has more than 197,000 miles" (Click here and go to 9:23 on the video).

Mendelson personally inspected the fire engine and ambulance on Monday at a city lot on Adams Street, NE. According to reporter Michael Neibauer with the DC Examiner, Mendelson found that the odometer on the pumper showed only 55,000 miles. So far there is no explanation for the discrepancy.

As STATter911.com first reported on Friday, testimony by Chief Rubin and Assistant Chief Alfred Jeffery has also come into conflict with the three-page report released by DC Attorney General Peter Nickles. While Jeffery clearly indicated employees from other city government agencies accompanied Deputy Chief Ronald Gill Jr. to Sosua at the end of January, the report only makes mention of a DC Fire & EMS Department employee making the trip.

Nickles report also found that everything was legal and proper with the donation. Chief Rubin expressed his regrets over how the matter was handled. On Friday, STATter911.com contacted spokespersons for Chief Rubin and the city in an unsuccessful effort to learn more about the apparent conflicts between the testimony and the report.

More testimony on this matter from fire department officials and other top city government workers isn't likely to happen anytime soon. After testimony by procurement officials on Monday that linked two members of Mayor Adrian Fenty's inner circle to the donation, Attorney General Nickles advised there would be no further testimony from city officials. Nickles cited the ongoing investigation by the IG's office.

Here's how Neibauer begins his article:

Two members of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s inner circle asked the District’s contracting office to outline the process for donating a surplus firetruck and an ambulance to a beach town in the Dominican Republic, officials said Monday.

Chip Richardson, Fenty’s acting general counsel, and Thorn Pozen, the mayor’s special counsel, both contacted the Office of Contracting and Procurement about organizing the donation to the tourist enclave Sosua, Nancy Hapeman, OCP’s general counsel, told a D.C. Council committee Monday.

She said the District lawyers sought to use the District-based Peaceoholics as an intermediary.

And from an article by Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig in The Washington Post:

Nickles told officials from the fire department and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer that their testimony before the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment could interfere with investigations.

"It's clear that they are circling the wagons and shutting down the accountability process," said council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).

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