The two District of Columbia City Council reports released late last week looking into a controversial, aborted deal to donate a fire engine and ambulance to a resort town in the Dominican Republic have reporters taking a second look at the April 1, 2009 testimony of Chief Dennis Rubin. While the testimony thrust Chief Rubin into the limelight early on, making him the face of the growing controversy (not that anyone else was taking responsibility for the mess), in the end, the role of the DC Fire & EMS Department was almost secondary and not the main issue for those critical of the arrangement to use a non-profit group as a middle-man to broker the deal.
But, that doesn’t mean the role of Chief Rubin didn’t raise a few eyebrows once the reports were released. The reports include emails and other information showing that Rubin was aware and involved in the various forms of the planned donation going back to November, 2007. Eighteen months later, the chief told Committee for Public Safety and the Judiciary Chairman Phil Mendelson that he knew very little about the deal and was “clueless”.
That testimony had some very heated and pointed exchanges between Mendelson and Rubin. You may also recall during that hearing Chief Rubin said a number of times “I take full responsibility”, but Mendelson was skeptical and ultimately correct that the responsibility for the deal actually belonged elsewhere in the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Two reporters who have covered this controversy from the start, have taken a closer look at the fire chief’s testimony in light of the council reports and wondered if the chief failed to tell the truth under oath. Each article was published Friday.
Fire Chief Dennis Rubin was directly involved in the District’s donation of emergency vehicles to the Dominican Republic, newly released e-mails show, but the chief claimed under oath to know very little days after the deal fell apart.
DeBonis, who writes the column Loose Lips (LL), further dissects the exchanges during the April 1 testimony and how they relate to the emails provided in the report. His conclusion:
… from what LL sees, there’s nothing that would indicate the Rubin ever intentionally lied to Phil Mendelson’s public safety and judiciary committee.
As for Phil Mendelson’s take, he tells DeBonis, it’s not clear cut:
The at-large councilmember passed on the question of whether Rubin lied under oath, calling it “not clear-cut.” Mendelson said he’d reviewed the tape in the course of his committee’s investigation but did so some time ago.
“I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I don’t have an answer,” he says. “It is a good question.”
Also on STATter911 …
- Dennis Rubin sues DC over retirement. Councilmember Mendelson scoffs at The Rube wanting more money. – December 7, 2011
- DC update: Is Chief Ellerbe fire proof? Watch hearing live. Relatives of patients in high-profile cases scheduled to testify. – March 28, 2013
- Video: Citizen who lost son praises EMS response but blasts DC firefighters. Tells hearing they are ‘terrorists’ trying to make Chief Ellerbe look bad. – April 1, 2013
- The latest from your Nation’s Capital: Mayor backs fire chief after article on sexual harassment claims. $70,000 in shirts that are safer for firefighters but have the wrong logo sit in warehouse. – March 8, 2012
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