Council Disturbed That Promotions Were Made Without Previous Discussion

13 November 2010 41 views No Comment

From: The Northern Valley Suburbanite, November 12, 2010 by Mike Curley, Staff Writer

ENGLEWOOD — Mayor Frank Huttle and council members conveyed their disappointment Tuesday night about not being informed prior to the city manager’s decision to approve promotions for several police officers.

Mayor Frank Huttle and Council President Scott Reddin at the council’s reorganization meeting. Huttle suggested that the council may have discussed the police promotions in a private meeting, a claim that Reddin refuted.

Huttle also clashed briefly with Council President Scott Reddin over comments made to The Record earlier in the week.

The previous week, City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick authorized several police officers to be promoted, after receiving a letter of request from Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe dated Oct. 15.

The promotions, O’Keefe said, were made to fill positions needed for the proper supervision of the police force, and were driven by a concern for public safety.

Huttle and other members of the council said they were displeased that the promotions had taken place without being discussed among the whole council.

Fitzpatrick apologized for this, saying he had followed the proper legal and procedural protocols for the promotions. Going forward, Fitzpatrick said he would inform the governing body weekly about any personnel action.

Fitzpatrick said that the promotions shouldn’t be seen as “a reward,” but were necessary to fill positions, and represented a larger burden on those being promoted. The police department, he said, will be more efficient.

Huttle said he appreciated Fitzpatrick’s comments and apology.

However, the mayor’s objection wasn’t to the actual promotions, but that it was another case where a decision was made without proper information.

Huttle referred to an ordinance concerning the structure of the Police Department he had vetoed earlier in the year. For that ordinance, he said, he could find no record of discussion in any council meeting. As a result, the mayor concluded that either the council discussed it in private, or not at all, echoing comments he had made in The Record.

With respect to the promotions in particular, Huttle said he respects O’Keefe, and believes that respect to be mutual. He said he considers public safety to be his number one concern, but the impact of all decisions needs to be known, and information has to be disseminated for discussion.

He said he did not like learning about the promotions through phone calls to him after the fact from other sources.

“There’s something wrong when I’m getting my information from The Record,” he said, adding there should not be a discussion about it in the newspaper when the council was unaware of the move. He called it a “crying shame,” that something as important as police promotions wasn’t discussed with the entire council.

Councilwoman Lynne Algrant echoed his sentiments, saying the controversy has unfortunately taken away from the proud congratulations that the officers should expect on promotion.

Like Huttle, she said she appreciated the city manager’s comments, adding the council needs as much information as possible, because, “Well-discussed decisions are always better.”

Reddin said he was “dismayed” at the accusation that the council members have been meeting in private, adding there was no truth to such allegations.

Huttle responded that his comments in the paper were not an accusation. He restated that because he could find no record of a discussion on the vetoed ordinance, he could conclude either that there was private discussion, or “you voted blind.”

Several members of the public also commented on the promotions, with some focusing more on the financial implications of the promotions. One resident said while he is sure the officers deserve the promotions, the current economic times should be considered. He questioned whether the council could afford the promotions.

O’Keefe, reached after the meeting, said the positions had been budgeted for, and were necessary to correct “an absence of supervision” in the police chain of command.

Another resident said the promotions should have been held off, as they represent pay raises for the officers in question. Upcoming negotiations with the police department at the end of their current contracts will likely result in another pay increase, he said.

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