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Mendelson seeks answers on deputy fire chief

In the wake of news that a D.C. deputy fire chief remains on the city's employment rolls despite having taken the top jobs at a county fire department in Florida, a D.C. Council member says he plans to seek answers in the matter and will pursue a formal investigation if they don't come.

Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who oversees the council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, said he is convinced that Kenneth Ellerbe was given a special arrangement just to allow him to reach age 50 before retiring so he could receive pension benefits more quickly.

Mendelson said exceptions to retirement rules have been granted in the past, but only after legislation was passed.

"Here, they go around the law, around the council, around public accountability," Mendelson said.

Ellerbe, who has not returned calls for comment, was placed on leave without pay Aug. 31, a fire official said Monday, and news reports from Florida say he became Sarasota County Fire Chief in July. Questions remain on whether he was getting paychecks in both places at once for any period of time and who signed off on his arrangement.

-- Jonathan Mummolo

By Anne Bartlett  |  December 15, 2009; 6:37 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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Thank you, Councilmember Mendelson!

Posted by: DCResident22 | December 16, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

This is a possible scenario: Setting up an agreement with the Florida F.D. as an exchange of Chief Ellerbe services. These employment exchanges are done a lot, particularly from the federal governement to D.C. and vice versa. I think that the receiving agency pays the employee his salary and the sending agency carries the person on LWOP. So technically, the employee is still a D.C. goverment employee. However, these employment exchanges are supposed to be for the benefit of the agencies involved and not solely for the benefit of the individual AND, the employee is supposed to eventually return to the sending agency. The Director of Personnel would have to sign off on this, as well as an D.C. Fire/EMS Official (I hear it was Brian Lee), and the "receiving agency." Is this was done, somebody should be able to get the agreement from the fire department in Florida.

Posted by: TerryMiller | December 16, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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