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Council Launches New Probe Into Fire Truck

Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) have launched an official investigation into the saga over how and why a District fire truck and ambulance was donated, and subsequently returned, to a small town in the Dominican Republic.

In a statement, the two members described the Fenty administration's decision to give away the emergency equipment as an "evolving scandal" that now requires its third investigation in less than a month.

"The bizarre circumstances surrounding these events and the peculiar lack of candor on the part of the Executive demand close scrutiny," Cheh said. "We are compelled to take this step."

The investigation, which will be conducted by the Government Operations and the Environment and Public Safety and Judiciary committees, will enable the council to subpoena testimony from key actors in the decision to transfer the equipment.

The investigation follows an effort earlier this week by Cheh, the chairwoman of the operations committee, and Mendelson, chair of the public safety committee, to extract answers from the Office of Contracting Procurement.

Council members believe Wilbur Giles, the chief of staff at the contracting office, authorized an emergency rule change to facilitate the transfer of the equipment to the nonprofit group Peaceoholics, which then sent the fire truck and ambulance on its way to the Dominican Republic.

But Giles, acting under advice from the Attorney General Peter J. Nickles, refused to testify, citing an ongoing Inspector Generals Office probe into the matter.

In the resolution authorizing the Council's probe, the council noted that Fire chief Denis Rubin had previously testified that the fire truck had about 197,000 miles on it when it when it was donated. But Mendelson went to look at the truck after it was returned to the city and found, he claims, it had only 55,000 miles on it.

Last week, Mendelson and Cheh pressed for an Inspector General's investigation after they were unsatisfied with a report issued by Nickles that found no wrongdoing.

Mendelson said today he thought it was appropriate for the Council to also investigate the matter because
"this is not a criminal matter."

"There is nothing we can interfere with by asking questions," Mendelson said.

By Tim Craig  |  April 9, 2009; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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It appears the unanimity under Democratic Party banner is wearing a thinner weave when the Mayor reflects obvious contempt for fair play, integrity, and, self respect.

Time has long come for the D.C. City Council to take on a mantle of responsible government, and this may be a contentious ripple in the crumbling D.C. government which under the Mayor and several other Council members are an example pf its small ship afloat in a large body of water slowly sinking, leaks unprepared, taking on water to the decks edge.

It did not take long, but Mayor Fenty's leadership leaves a fowl, fowl odor, disorderly agencies, and, a leaky administration comprised of a disingenuous education Chancellor, inept dishonest Property Management, a stealing Technology Agency, Child and Family Services heading to receivorship where mothers are murdering the children, and, non the less than others, a Department of Youth Services which seldom detain convicted murders but put them back on the street to roam and murder more to create a havoc and disrespect for the communities already suffering from loosing $50 million dollars and more under Fenty's Administrative CFO Natwar Gandhi, need not say more.

It is a good beginning for the City Council to start to take responsible action for another D.C. Mayor and his Corporation Counsel gone a stray.

Posted by: eglobegus | April 9, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

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