On Friday, DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson made an appearance at the committee he used to chair and let the current chief of the DC Fire & EMS Department have it over a half-baked idea to get more ambulances on the street. Ellerbe’s appearance in front of the City Council proved, as we told you before the hearing, the lame duck chief has no political capital after three-years in office. Zero.
Ellerbe has been such an embarrassment that even if he came up with a really good idea no one would listen. But, as usual with Ellerbe, his idea was laughably ill-conceived.
In a time when the city population is growing and the local government is not having serious financial difficulties, Ellerbe proposed closing a busy engine and truck company to put more ambulances and paramedic units on the street. Closing a fire company when you absolutely have to because there is no money is tough enough. Trying to do so, with not a shred of evidence such a drastic action is needed, is stupidity. And Phil Mendelson let the chief know it.
At a public hearing, Mendelson criticized Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe for not seeking comment from residents, unions and lawmakers before rolling out the proposal. He said the chief had failed to hire a sufficient number of paramedics, and he challenged Ellerbe to “bet your paycheck” on whether more than the current 191 paramedics would be on the payroll next year.
The debate over staffing at the fire station on New Jersey Avenue, which houses Truck 4 and Engine 6, overshadowed a goal that otherwise virtually everyone supports — more ambulances on the streets when they’re needed most. It is an effort by Ellerbe to respond to persistent problems such as slow response times, inadequate care and broken equipment. The deficiencies have drawn the wrath of residents and council members, and some have called for the chief’s ouster and labeled the department a national embarrassment.
For his part, Chief Ellerbe, who up until now, has at least been respectful to the members of the City Council, took a page out of Dennis Rubin’s notebook and gave an arrogant smart-ass reply to questioning by Mendelson. In addition, the chief tried to embarrass a young firefighter who dared to make the case that the city could have the additional ambulances and also keep open Engine 6 and Truck 4. In the story below, you will see despite his dismissal of the firefighter’s idea, the chief admitted that could be a possibility.
It has taken three years but the press, the citizens and the politicians have finally gotten wise to Kenneth Ellerbe. They are understanding the chief who failed to hire paramedics and buy and maintain fire apparatus, has not had the safety of the citizens in mind while leading the department.
Instead, Kenneth Ellerbe has used his office to settle scores and carry-out a personal agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with public safety.
Kenneth Ellerbe has nine more months to continue to inflict harm on the citizens. His performance Friday should be enough proof that it’s time for Kenneth Ellerbe to leave or at least be hidden away from public view so has not to cause further embarrassment to the city.