Council puts off decision on chief

Rolfes suggests a more formal confirmation process.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy formally nominated Matt Haney as the island’s next chief of police at Wednesday’s council meeting.

What’s next is up to the council, which likely will undertake a more formal confirmation process than has historically been the case with nominees for senior city posts.

“The council has not been involved to date in this process. Typically, we are,” Council Chair Christine Rolfes said Friday. “The second (reason) is, the position of police chief is one that is probably the most important to have a thorough process for.”

Kordonowy had already announced her intention to nominate Haney, who has served as interim chief for the past year. He emerged as the mayor’s chief of choice after interviews of four finalists earlier this month.

Haney was nominated over Alexander Perez, a lieutenant with the Inglewood, Calif., police department; both candidates emerged as “superstars” in the interview process, one participant said.

Haney’s nomination – which drew a standing ovation from most of the full gallery in the council chambers Wednesday – followed a 90-minute closed-door session between the mayor and council.

Comments on the dais were brief, with Kordonowy introducing Haney but saying she is satisfied if the council takes more time in confirming the nomination.

“I really believe that the council needs to be as confident as I am,” Kordonowy said. “If that takes a little more time, I fully support it.”

Rolfes was the only council member to speak, saying the group was not prepared to act and would take up the matter next month.

“It’s not something we want to take lightly, and we want to set forth a process that’s fair and public,” she said.

What form that process will assume is unclear, and the council is known to be somewhat divided over what has occurred so far.

Councilman Bob Scales has questioned the mayor’s thoroughness, saying the city could have used an executive search firm to target desirable candidates.

There is also apparent disagreement over how much deference the council should show the mayor in confirming appointments.

The city code specifies that the the mayor has the power to “appoint any qualified person” to police chief, city administrator, and other senior positions specified in the code, “subject to confirmation of a majority of the city council.”

Rolfes suggested that the key issue right now is information.

“We have not had access to much of the information that the mayor used in coming to her decision,” she said.

“Because the informal part of the process did not happen, we find ourselves in a unique situation, with the need to define our own process to gather information and make a timely and responsible decision.”

Even with a formal process, Councilman Jim Llewellyn said Thursday the mayor should be given latitude to pick her staff. He does not, he said, support the idea of having the mayor offer two choices from whom the council could choose.

“I believe the mayor should have her choice of the people she wants under her, unless there’s a compelling reason (otherwise),” he said.

Councilman Nezam Tooloee has described the council’s role as “advice and consent,” and suggested that anything short of “corruption, moral turpitude or incompetence” would be unlikely to move him to oppose a mayoral hire.

Only one citizen spoke during Wednesday’s proceedings. Audrey Greenway citicized the idea that the city should have undertaken a national search; she cited problems with the city of Seattle’s last two police chiefs.

“They were deplorable,” Greenway said. “They were no good, either one of them.

“And you’ve got one here who knows the community. He’s smart, and he’s polite... I think this situation should over. He should be nominated.”

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