‘The fire chief needs to be careful in his personnel actions’. Advice from DC Council Chairman after ruling that Chief Kenneth Ellerbe retaliated against union president.

 DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe at a hearing before Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

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Washington Times reporter Andrea Noble gathered reaction to a recent arbitrator’s ruling that DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe retaliated against IAFF Local 36 president Ed Smith by transferring Smith from Rescue Squad 1 to Engine 7 in July 2011. The man whose committee has oversight of the department, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told Noble the ruling was “sobering” and “not good for the department”. Here’s more from Mendelson and others:

“I have not read the decision, so I can’t speak to the reasoning there,” he said. “But the fact that the arbitrator did conclude that the transfer was improper, I think is sobering and suggests that the fire chief needs to be careful in his personnel actions.”

Others see the ruling as an indication of lingering issues that can bring more harm to the department if government officials from outside the agency do not step in.

“It hurts public confidence when arbitrators make these type of findings,” said Terry Lynch, an activist who heads the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. “I think the mayor and his team, they all need to step back, take a deep breath and just be fully engaged in civic services. It’s possible we need a change at the top of some of these agencies.”

Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, said Wednesday that the administration had no definitive reaction or plans to take action as a result of the arbitrator’s findings.

“It’s really a personnel matter with the FEMS,” he said. “It’s something the chief needs to address.” 

Read the entire article from The Washington Times 

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