Our new city council members recently received this unsolicited e-mail from former City Manager Chris Meyer:
Council Members, you might want to consider the attached article from Oakland on police commissions/ oversight, before you decide how you want to proceed. It is very instructive on the challenges you may face. Since the procedures for disciplinary action for police officers are embodied in their labor contract (which is subject the collective bargaining process under MMB, PERB; and other State laws, as well as long established city policy), and since the current contract with the optional extension, doesn’t expire until 2014, an oversight commission would be a ineffective, and generally useless until a new contract was mutually agreed upon, or imposed unilaterally on the POA.
Instead, you may want to focus on appointing a permanent Chief of Police for the time being, and see if the problems can be resolved that way. As to the Council appointing a Chief of Police, go ahead and give it a try. It will be interesting to see how the Chief interfaces with the Council, and implements both your individual, and collective agendas. You might want to ask Shawn, Sharon, or Pam what the closed session discussion was like when the most recent Chief was selected. You will note that in the City Manager Ordinance, that the CM is required to consult with the Council on the selection of the Chief. That means that at least three Council Members need to concur with the CM’s recommendation in order for it to happen, unless of course the CM is planning on looking for a new job. For all practical purposes at least four members of the Council need to concur, as no Chief candidate will take a job on a 3/2 vote.The Council also interviews the final three candidates for the job, and can direct the appointment. Generally the CM can work with any of the top three, so the selection is responsive to the Councils direction, and desires. Finally, ask yourself this question? Do you want to be responsible for the Chief’s actions. Remember that will require you to fall on your collective swords, as well as the Chief, if something like Kelly happens again. And, just a reminder, the Chief gets POBAR protection, and presumptive clause protection for medical conditions related to the incident, or the job, so you would be gone long before he, or she would, as you would bear the ultimate responsibility.
City Manager, Retired
The part I love is the former City Manager trying to scare the new council members into the same craven cowardliness that tanked the last crew. Do you want to be responsible for the Chief’s actions?
Well, hell yes!!
Leaders lead. The poor, brainless bastards that just got recalled failed to lead. They let “the system” take charge; the result was a disaster. Comically, the otiose Meyer derives his entire screed on the premise that “things just happen.” But Meyer fails to grasp one basic truth: things just happen when nobody is in charge.
Typically, Meyer omits to remind the new council that he was in charge as the Fullerton Police Department slid down the greasy slope of corruption. Typical? Yes, indeed. The old, corrupt regime never took responsibility for its actions. And a bloated pustule like Meyer could make $200,000 a year coaching his three sawdust-brained puppets to dodge the accountability they were elected to assume.