Fired Chief

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Something stinks in Port Arthur tonight and it’s not the smell of a refinery. The Port Arthur fire chief has been fired by the city manager, and he believes it’s retaliation for helping us expose the Acadian Ambulance Service.

“You think you’re being paid back for blowing the whistle,” asked Wayne Dolcefino.

 “Yes. I think its retaliation and also, it’s unfair and unethical,” expressed Greg Benson

Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson helped us prove the city’s ambulance company was cheating taxpayers.

“A lot of what they had been providing the city was inaccurate,” said Benson.

“Or downright false,” added Dolcefino.

“Yeah,” replied Benson.

His reward…

He got fired.

“You think this stinks,” asked Dolcefino.

“Oh yeah,” expressed Benson.

So do we.

“You think you’re getting paid back for exposing Acadian,” asked Dolcefino.

“Yeah. Yeah,” said Benson.

We first met the fire chief for the very first time early this year for an on-camera interview. His candor was refreshing.

Without our knowledge, the interview was recorded by a hidden security system.

You know who was curious about what we talked about that day? The former fire chief had supposedly retired.

Chief Benson thought it spoke volumes about the Port Arthur fire department he first inherited three years ago.

“The organization is highly toxic and a hostile culture,” expressed Benson.

“No operations in Port Arthur fire including EMS; they were not meeting EMS standards and I brought that up,” said Benson.

Research he did showed him folks in Port Arthur were calling for ambulances more than other cities the same size.

Acadian had the lock on ambulance service in Port Arthur for more than a decade, a virtual monopoly throughout the Golden Triangle.

And Chief Benson was warned the relationships may have been corrupted.

“What is the suspect,” asked Dolcefino.

“Acadian had it had paid for some trips and stuff like that. I had multiple people tell me that’s what they did,” said Benson.

“Pay for trips,” asked Dolcefino. Benson clarified, “yes.”

That’s for the district attorney to find out, but there was clearly friction with Roberts Havens. The deputy fire chief who was passed over when Port Arthur hired Benson.

And Benson says that wasn’t the only source of friction and leveled a pretty serious charge.

“You think havens has been protecting Acadian,” asked Dolcefino.

“Yes, he has been,” said Benson.

So, Benson made enemies when he moved to bring in a second ambulance service.

City Ambulance was offering what Acadian never would, dedicated ambulances inside the city.

The city was cut in half so both could operate in smaller areas to response time. Acadian didn’t want to play.

“They wanted the whole enchilada, or they wanted none of it,” said Benson.

Acadian Ambulance may have quit Port Arthur, but before they left Benson noticed irregularities.

Repeated times when Acadian had no ambulance available in Port Arthur.

And response times that simply were unbelievable. Just seconds in many cases, distorting their required reporting.

Further investigation uncovered false response times were put in the documents to hide horrible response times, you saw the grief.

“I am the epitome of transparency,” claimed Ronald Burton.

Port Arthur’s self-proclaimed transparent city manager is Ronald Burton. Another old timer.

“There are officials here who are covering for Acadian,” asked Dolcefino.

 “Oh no. Absolutely not,” replied Burton.

“Do you think the city manager is carrying water for them,” asked Dolcefino.

“I have a feeling he might be and I think at this point the actions the things he said and done,” said Benson.

Benson says the city manager all but ignored repeated warnings about Acadian and the city manager promised us there would a full investigation of what was going on.

“I will leave no stone unturned to make sure that we get to the bottom of that,” said Burton.

That was nearly three months ago.

Why haven’t Acadian officials been called to the grand jury? Why hasn’t the city manager presented a report to city council?

“I don’t think they want to do an investigation if you will,” said Benson.

“Do you think the district attorney’s office in Jefferson County should widen its so called investigation of Acadian to include an examination of trips or other gratuities it gave city officials in Port Arthur,” asked Dolcefino.

“Yeah, I think that would be an appropriate thing,” said Benson.

To hear the mayor tell it; there was tension in the ranks, but it looks like the mayor has a bit of egg on his face. He told local tv the fire union had voted no confidence on the chief.

Just one problem, the union president says that’s not true.

“The vote of no confidence, it never occurred,” said Sean Johnson.

There should be a full investigation by city council because something doesn’t smell right.

Listen to the city manager earlier this month at the rotary club.

“Chief we’re just recognizing you as our city employee. we are able to achieve a lot in the city of Port Arthur because we have great staff exceptional staff, exceptional staff like Greg Benson,” said Burton in a speech.

Guess the city manager just lied to the rotary club. You brag about the guy and then fire him? For what?

Ambulance response times improved since Acadian left.

Just a few weeks before Benson got fired, there had been a formal complaint made by the City Ambulance service boss.

That Deputy Chief Havens was still letting Acadian pick up private patients even though they don’t had a permit to do so.

“So, here is a formal complaint that was submitted. Nothing was done and now they made him the interim fire chief,” said Benson.

Benson calls it the revenge of Acadian….

“You expect there is going to be a move to bring Acadian back,” asked Dolcefino.  

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” stated Benson.

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