|COMMENTS WILL CONTINUE ON POLICE CHIEF SITUATION|
DATE SET FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION 6-2-10 LMS
A special Salmon City Council meeting has been set for Wednesday June 9th at 6PM for the purpose of further discussion related to issues concerning Salmon City Police Chief Jim Spain.
An emergency executive session of the Salmon City Council called by Mayor John Miller took place on May 24th after which four of the five council members in attendance voted to dismiss the Police Chief.
The meeting as well as the subsequent decision was deemed void due to not following proper notification procedures and because not all six council members were able to attend as required by city code. The dismissal vote is therefore void and Jim Spain is still the Salmon City Police Department Chief.
An executive session to discuss the dismissal issue was placed on the agenda for the June 2nd meeting of the Salmon City Council however it had to be cancelled due to the absence of one of the council members.
According to state law an executive session must be posted prior to the meeting and is not open to the public. The purpose of an executive session is to protect the privacy of personnel involved in discussions as well as information involving any ongoing litigation. The session may also be used for seeking legal advice on issues. All discussions during an executive session are to remain, by law, confidential. No official decisions can be made within the session itself, only after it has ended.
An ‘emergency’ executive session can be called without the usual notifications. At the June 2nd meeting City Attorney John McKinney said that in his opinion the May 24th session did not meet state statutes as to what constitutes an emergency. He said an emergency is defined as something regarding an imminent financial loss to the city or imminent personal danger. Miller stated that in his opinion the present issues do deal with a potential financial loss to the city.
Since the May 24th dismissal announcement a petition to recall the mayor has been circulating and public outcry both for and against the chief and the mayor has been building.
The petition states the mayor has attempted to dissuade city police from enforcing DUI laws and that the mayor’s failure to publish required notifications prior to the May 24th executive session was intentional. Prior to the meeting picketers with placards of support for the Police Department gathered in front of Salmon City Hall.
At the June 2nd council meeting the Salmon Valley Center meeting room was filled with a standing room only crowd as 31 people made statements during a public comment period. Of those, 18 spoke strongly in favor of Chief Spain. Four of the 18 speakers asked for the mayor’s resignation. 12 speakers spoke in favor of the mayor and stated their complaints against the police department.
One speaker simply asked for an explanation of exactly what is going on. It was at that point McKinney explained executive session laws. Miller said it is because of those laws details of his issues with Spain can’t be revealed.
When the comment period ended and the Administrative Business portion of the council meeting began, Councilman Jim Baker made a motion that a special council meeting be held on June 9th at 6PM. His motion establishing the meeting included an opportunity for more public comment and the potential for an executive session to discuss the police chief issues. Going into an executive session requires approval from two thirds of the council. Any administrative decision would be put to a vote in the open meeting which would resume after the executive session. Baker’s motion was passed.
Baker then moved that Police Chief Jim Spain be returned to active duty and that he be placed under the supervision of City Administrator George Ambrose until the present situation is resolved. The motion passed on a three to two vote. Baker, Leo Marshall and Jim Kluesner voted in favor, Ken Gutzman and Bud Bartlett were opposed.
McKinney, Miller and the council agreed the evening had been a perfect example of democracy in action and thanked all in attendance for their active participation and involvement.
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