Civil Service Commission returns to business

The city's Civil Service Commission held its first meeting Tuesday as the newest version of the independent body since it was vacated and had its structure modified last year.

During the informational meeting, commissioners William Foster, Robert Killian, Steve Lakich, Linda McMaken and Bruce Weiland were introduced to each other and members of the city administration, including Senior Executive Secretary Kate Brown, who serves as the commission's secretary chief examiner.

For much of the meeting commissioners had a primer on various aspects of the police department.

One item of official business was addressed when Weiland was voted in as the commission's chair and Killian the vice chair — both by a unanimous voted. The commission also took time to address any conflicts of interest that commissioners may have, but found none.

McMaken did note that she serves on the board of the Bainbridge Island Sportsmen's Club with Chief Jon Fehlman, but said that she felt it doesn't present a conflict of interest.

City Attorney William Patton, Fehlman and John Walters from Public Safety Testing gave overviews of their jobs and relationships to the commission. Public Safety Testing is a company that provides testing services for incoming police officers. Walters grew up on the island and is a former Winslow police officer.

Fehlman brought the commission up-to-date on matters regarding the police department. Currently, the department is down two officers and the chief would like to seek lateral officers—officers with experience elsewhere.

The CSC handles personnel matters, applicant testing for police positions and sometimes disciplinary matters. It was formerly a three-member commission, but was expanded to five members after controversy arose late last year over the commission's alleged violation of the state's Open Public Meetings Act.

With only three members, it was difficult for the commission to meet or communicate without constituting a quorum and it was discovered that commissioners may have been unintentionally meeting without public notice.

The issue of the OPMA violations was pressed by former secretary chief examiner Kim Hendrickson, whose contract was terminated in August. Hendrickson then filed an ethics complaint regarding commissioners and their meeting practices.

The matter resulted in all members of the CSC resigning and months of public debate over the proper structure and independence of the commission. Eventually a structural change of the commission was passed in October that raised the number of commissioners to five and staggered their terms.

Killian is familiar with the CSC's former trials having served on the city's Ethics Board and was involved with the ethics complaint filed by the former S/CE.


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