Fire & EMS

Ethics Investigation Timeline

Follow the timeline regarding when ethical concerns were first raised, how the KT-BOS responded (or failed to), the cumulative costs of their decision, and what could have been done differently 

Organizations

  • EMS: Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance)

  • KFC: Kennett Fire Company

  • KFERC: Kennett Fire and Emergency Services Regional Commission

  • KSQ: Borough of Kennett Square

  • KT: Kennett Township

  • KT-BOS: Kennett Township Board of Supervisors

  • LFC: Longwood Fire Company

People

  • Hoffman: Whitney Hoffman, Kennett Township Supervisor

  • Leff: Richard Leff, Kennett Township Supervisor

  • Ratliff / Mrs Ratliff : Mr. Eden Ratliff (Kennett Township Manager) and Mrs Gabrielle Ratliff 

  • Stevens: Scudder Stevens, Kennett Township Supervisor

Late 2020

Ratliff joins LFC

What happened? 

Ratliff, his wife, and his brother become LFC volunteers

Concerns? Conflict of interest

What are the CONCERNS?

Conflict of interest 

Ratliff never reveals his affiliation with LFC (it is reported by a resident after the dismantling of KFC was complete). This affiliation could have biased Ratliff's conclusions at each stage of his analyses and recommendations - for example, it could lead him to overlook concerns of an organization that he was a member of.

Ratliff admits to association with LFC

What happened? 

In response to a question at the public meeting to review the changes, Ratliff admits the he and his family became volunteers at LFC. 

Concerns? Conflict of interest

What are the CONCERNS?

Conflicts of interest

Ratliff only admitted to his association with LFC after being publicly questioned.  It is reasonable to conclude that this association predisposed Ratliff to favoring LFC in all negotiations.

Aug 2021

LFC advertises for a paid Executive Assistant

What happened? 

LFC posts a new position of Assistant to the Director that appears to have been funded through the budget increases engineered by Ratliff. The position states specific preferences that appear to be tailored to Mrs. Ratliff's qualifications  

Concerns? Misleading budgets and a possible quid pro quo

What are the CONCERNS?

Misleading budgets

All of the budget proposals presented to KT-BOS focused on increasing paid firefighters: none referenced a need to increase administrative support. 

A quid pro quo

Tailoring the job description to Mrs Ratliff's qualifications  assured that she would be the preferred candidate, thus  creating the potential opportunity for a quid pro quo for the increased funding engineered by Ratliff.

Oct 2021

Mrs. Ratliff hired as Executive Assistant at LFC

What happened? 

Mrs. Ratliff joins LFC as Executive Assistant to the Chief.. 

Concerns? Conflicts of interest

What are the CONCERNS?

Conflicts of interest

His wife's employment creates a clear and immediate conflict of interest for Ratliff that could easily lead him to favor proposals that benefit LFC. 

Nov 2021

32% increase in Fire / EMS costs proposed for 2022

What happened? 

Ratliff presents a proposed budget that includes massive increases in the emergency services budget for 2022 budget, to cover based on a very generous salary schedule for firefighters, a $250k "volunteer recruitment program, and "years of deficit spending".

Concerns? Misleading budgets

What are the CONCERNS?

Misleading budgets

The proposed budget included no details regarding how $250k for volunteer recruitment might be spent, claimed that $125k was needed for each new firefighter hired, and offer no explanation for "years of deficit spending". 

Ratliff admits the his wife has been hired by LFC

What happened? 

Following a tip from a resident, Ratliff admits to KT supervisors that his wife is working at LFC.

Concerns? Conflicts of interest

What are the CONCERNS?

Conflicts of interest

Except for stepping down as a KT representative to the KFERC, no actions appear to have been taken to investigate and correct the influence of Ratliff's conflicts of interest with regards to a reorganization of emergency services that favored the agency that just hired his wife into a position apparently tailored to her qualifications. 

Dec 2021

Tax increase for 2022 proposed to "invest in capital fund"

What happened? 

Ratliff proposes a tax increase for 2022, claiming that this will serve to increase funding for capital projects. 

Concerns? Misleading budgets

What are the CONCERNS?

Misleading budgets

The increased revenue for the proposed tax increase appears likely to be almost equivalent to the additional $180k KT would have to pay to cover the increased cost of emergency services. 

Letters sent to PA Ethics Commission and KT residents outlining the most significant concerns referenced above

What happened? 

We submitted a formal request to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission to investigate the conflicts of interest referenced above, and then sent a letter to all KT residents outlining the concerns about Fire/EMS re-organization.

What happened? Failure to supervise

Concerns?

Failure to supervise

KT supervisors knew about the most recent conflicts of interest and the request to the Ethics Commission, but declined my invitation to meet one on one to hear their concerns and questions (emails available upon request). The Commission responded immediately to the complaint, indicating that they require more specific evidence to launch an investigation, which we intend to pursue.   

KSQ requests advice from PA Attorney General regarding ethics of Ratliff's conduct

What happened? 

The KSQ Borough Council formally requested that the Attorney General rule on whether Ratliff promotion of 'funding for LFC s constitutes a conflict of interest and, if so, what steps should be taken.

What happened? Failure to supervise

Concerns?

Failure to supervise

KT supervisors could have requested such guidance when they first learned on 11/8/21 about Ratliff's new conflict of interest, and then disclosed it publicly.  It is remarkable that the request for such guidance had to come from a neighboring municipality, more than one month after the conflict was first disclosed.