Selah's GOBsters

    Selah’s City Council meeting this week brought three pieces of good news. It also gave several troubling hints that Selah’s Good Ol’ Boys (GOB) approach to city government remains alive and well. 

    While the GOB phrase is admittedly both gender specific and age discriminatory, it seems to be the most apt term for the general “this is how we have always done it” approaches hinted at in the council meeting. 


    But first, the three pieces of good news. 


    First, The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the council authorized the mayor to hire an outside investigator to review recent decisions by City Administrator Don Wayman. 


    And, two Selah council members spoke up to say the city needs to pay attention to concerns raised by the union representing Selah police officers.  The union says officers are troubled by being caught in the middle of Selah’s chalk art fiasco. Some are thinking of leaving the force, and many are concerned about being defendants in a civil rights lawsuit if they follow an unconstitutional order to remove chalk art.  It is good news that a couple of council members are listening.


    Finally, the article quotes one of the protesters outside the council meeting as saying “The lawyers are in negotiation right now, I think.”  That is good news. While the lawyers’ fee meters are still running, successful negotiations are usually cheaper than lawsuits. 


    Now, the troubling hints that a GOB problem may still exist: 


  • The mayor says she isn’t clear what investigations are needed.  It is not encouraging that the mayor is still unclear about the issues. 


  • The city administrator labelled the process of launching an external investigation “an incredibly hostile move and unjustified.” He used a legal trigger word: “hostile.” Lawsuits over a “hostile work environment” are commonplace.  Will his bosses (the city council and Selah residents) still look for answers, regardless?   


  • Three letters to the council were not read because city attorney Rob Case claimed they violated the city’s standards.  The letters are public record under Washington law. It would be helpful if somebody did a public records request on those three letters to see exactly what they say. Anybody? 


  • Selah has already interviewed two candidates for the police chief position opening up at the end of August. 


Has this position been publicly posted? I am coming up empty-handed on a Google search and nothing is posted on the City of Selah HR site as of this morning.  






Interviewing candidates for such a critical position before wide public posting is not only unwise, it could lead to a lawsuit for discrimination, brought by interested and qualified officers who were not invited to interview. 


  • Same book, different page: The Herald-Republic reported: 


“We’re going to spread our net out and we’re going to look outside of the valley for new patrolmen and new leadership,” Wayman said, noting several officers have left their jobs in places such as Seattle, where Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement on Monday. “We look at this as an encouraging thing that we might have some opportunity to get some highly experienced officers from other municipalities.”



    Does “spread the net out” include posting the position so officers of diverse backgrounds can apply, or are officers being hand-picked for interviews? I hope I am wrong. If the positions have been widely posted and the interview and hiring process are transparent, that would be wonderful. But...  




    Somehow, I suspect the job postings will appear magically in the next few days on the Selah city website. 


    That’s how GOBs work when the lights are turned on. 


    That’s how they will continue to work until the town demands better. 


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UPDATE #1

    

     As predicted above, the Selah City HR website quickly posted a job announcement for the Police Chief position. Well, sort of...




    If you've applied for a job in...say, the last fifty years...you know we're still missing a little information here. 

Where's the job description? Where are the job qualifications? Is there a closing date on applying?  

    And how did two candidates already manage to get interviews without any of those apparently missing items?

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UPDATE #2



    The job posting is not showing up (yet) on the Washington State Employment Security job website, state or national police job listing boards, or any of the major on-line job sites.  It may take a day or two...if the posting has been submitted.

    Meanwhile, Selah city officials have to figure out how to "unring the bell." The job opening and qualifications were just posted, but the City Administrator is on record as saying the city has already interviewed two candidates that he called "highly qualified."   

    Why would a city not want to review a large number of well-qualified candidates? Two is not a large number. For a job that pays $100k a year, Selah taxpayers deserve a vigorous job search that includes as many qualified candidates as possible.