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Commissioners turned blind eyes

Matt Westerhold • Oct 24, 2012 at 9:52 AM

There was ample evidence several candidates selected by a city commission committee for the open police chief job did not meet the requirements of the city charter. Despite the obvious, five city commissioners turned a blind eye and voted to spend another $13,000 to assess the pool. The assessment came back and the assessors also turned a blind eye to the language of the law. The cost -- so far -- is topping $28,000, and the committee decided on Monday to re-start the search. 

City commissioner Diedre Cole hoped an attorney's report would vindicate her after her collegues pilloried her for raising concerns. Indeed, the report declares the committee's work dead on arrival, but the commissioners who voted to spend taxpayer money to continue the charade likely won't cut back the Cole smackdown. Ignoring the obvious and keeping difficult topics off the public radar are primary driving forces for five out of seven commissioners.

Commissioner Jeff Smith, an ardent defender of the search commitee and harsh critic of Cole's, and commissioners Julie Farrar, John Hamilton, Keith Grohe and Brown, it seems, were content with the problematic process that led to a diminished choice for the city's next top cop. They showed that with their vote to spend taxpayer dollars vetting candidates who could not be lawfully selected for the job.

Cole and commissioner Wes Poole both voted against the additional spending and attempted to reason with the majority coalition. 

It's ironic Smith, who wants to be the "drug czar" commissioner, told commissioners Monday he wants commission to form a new city committee to study violent crime and suggest solutions to problems. It might be better, less expensive and more simple, to just get the chief search committee back on track and select a leader for the police department. Smith would serve residents better if he stopped grandstanding and found a way to set aside his personal animosity for Cole and Poole.

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