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Washington Post Again Blasts Secret Hearings in D.C. Fire Department

dcogcadmin | May 20, 2014

In a second editorial June 26 headlined, "D.C.

In a second editorial June 26 headlined, "D.C. Fire Department's Insulting Treatment of the Public," the Washington Post has again scored the troubled department for "ranking the interests of employees above those of the public."  A department trial board closed another in the series of disciplinary hearings into members' involvement in the death of a 77-year-old who died of a heart attack after nearby firefighters told bystanders seeking assistance they couldn’t do anything.  The board (which has the discretion to close the proceedings or not) explained only that it was doing so for “the fairness and safety of the participants,” a murky rationale the Post called "ludicrous and insulting to the public."  

Echoing the mission and philosophy of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, which advocates for "government in the sunshine," the paper concluded "It is difficult to feel confidence in a process conducted in the shadows, especially when the public is excluded from what is so clearly a matter of public safety."  The Post had written after the first hearing was closed (May 12) that “It’s time to lift the veil of secrecy” on the incident so that full information is available to help “make the department accountable to those it serves.” As the hearings continued, D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe resigned, effective July 2, 2014.