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Interim chief of police to be named
By Dennis Box
The Bonney Lake Police Department will have an interim police chief appointed by the end of the month, according to Mayor Bob Young.
The interim chief will replace Police Chief Bryan Jeter, who has accepted a position with the Puyallup Police Department as commander of its patrol forces.
The 38-year-old chief will officially end his four-year tenure as Bonney Lake chief Dec. 31.
Young said he is looking at three candidates, all from outside the city's department, and intends to announce his choice by Friday.
"All of them are excellent candidates," Young said. "I will work collaboratively with the police staff and if we work together we can come up with a good chief."
Once an interim chief is in place, the city will use a headhunting agency to find a permanent replacement.
The loss of Jeter has set off a wave of criticism directed at the mayor and his staff. The city has seen four department heads leave in the past year, Jeter being the last to go.
"If a manager of a business begins losing department heads, it is a problem," Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said. "The mayor has lost every single top department head. Maybe these people have had some problems, but it is a failure of the administration to deal with these people. If they have shortcomings, help them, deal with it."
The concern over the loss of Jeter and other department directors reached critical mass at the Dec. 8 City Council workshop directed at the mayor and Finance Director John Weidenfeller.
Council members have accused Young of using the finance director as a chief of staff to harass department directors, including Jeter, concerning their budgets and expenditures.
Swatman introduced a draft ordinance limiting the director's authority, stating in part, "the Finance Director position shall have no supervisory authority over other directors...."
The deputy mayor stated he drafted the resolution as a response to some council member's concerns.
"My understanding is some of the city council was looking for ways to put the finance director under the administrative services coordinator," Swatman said.
At the Nov. 30 City Council workshop, Councilman Neil Johnson suggested the city staff be realigned, placing the finance director under the administrative services coordinator.
"This grows out of the frustration of losing Jeter," Johnson said. "Just knowing how poorly the mayor manages people. We are not trying to force John (Weidenfeller) out, we are trying to force the mayor to make John to do his job. We have no authority to force anyone out, but we should make our frustrations known."
The mayor has defended his management policies and his director. He noted at the workshop the members and citizens will have a chance to express their opinions about him his actions in November of 2005, an off-hand affirmation he is planning to run for a third term.
"I put John under a directive to get this budget under control," Young said. "Things were out of control and we brought control to this city. What we have are department heads squealing to the city council members. I'm holding the finances in check. John is staying. We would have difficulty replacing him. I really struggle with some of the open disrespect for my staff. Council doesn't understand what they do."
Swatman noted the finance director ordinance would not pass at this juncture and would not be pursued.
"John does what his boss is telling him to do and he is caught in the middle," Swatman said. "In the end, this (draft ordinance) is not something the council wants to force. It gets back to a strong mayor and council. The mayor is going to do what he wants."
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.