If you were fired from your job, you'd want a legitimate reason for being let go, wouldn't you?
That's the underlying reasoning behind what some residents perceive is holding up action by the city of Bonney Lake in appointing Interim Police Chief Dana Powers to the permanent chief position.
Powers was appointed interim chief last August. According to City Council agenda documents (AB12-133), Mayor Neil Johnson intends to appoint her as regular chief. But before that happens, Powers herself requested 'bumping rights' (or reassignment back to assistant chief) should the mayor opt to install a new chief in the future.
Currently, Powers is in the civil service, which according to City Administrator Don Morrison, affords employees job protection in the sense that should they ever be fired or be subjected to any kind of disciplinary action, there needs to be 'just cause' and a procedure followed with the Civil Service Commission.
The position of police chief, however, is a civil service-exempt position, meaning that should city leadership ever deem to install a chief, the old chief could be removed 'at will,' said Morrison.
City leaders are considering an acceptable alternative, which is to 'grandfather' her civil service status in ahead of her appointment as chief.
This is not an unheard of action in surrounding cities, according to Morrison. The cities of Sumner and Puyallup have “grandfathered” their latest chiefs into their civil service system. In Bonney Lake itself, it was done in 2000 for Bryan Jeter as well, as according to The Courier-Herald, the city's policy at that time was already to exempt the chief position.
According to The Courier-Herald, the Council was split 3-3 when it last discussed the matter at its Oct. 2 workshop.
Some councilmembers work in the private sector where such protections aren't afforded, said Morrison, so that was why a vote on the issue was tabled during the Oct. 9 meeting for further consideration.
The Council is expected to vote on this ordinance, however, at its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 23. It applies only when the mayor proposes to hire someone from within that's already in the civil service, said Morrison.
What do you think? Is the police chief position unique to those of other department heads that are considered 'at will' employees? Tell us in the comments.