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City council goes down same path

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By Susan Sharp

History has a way of repeating itself.

Don’t believe me?

Then look at what happened with the recent LaFollette Police Chief selection. There were a slew of qualified candidates vying for the position. A position that will entail curtailing a meth epidemic, raising the morale of the officers and battling the city council for autonomy

Of the 10 men who wanted this job eight of them brought incredibly strong skill sets to the table. From working with Homeland Security to running departments three times larger than LaFollette, the council wasn’t hurting for qualified men to take up the torch.

Granted a few of them had pretty big asking prices, but some were also willing to accept the nominal salary being proposed by the council for the job.

But in the end the majority of the council wanted the homegrown candidate- Jimmy Jeffries.

Have we not been here before?

Less than two years ago the LaFollette City Council conducted a search for a police chief. The application process drew candidates from across the country. In fact, some of the men applied for the job both times.

During the first round the city council elected to hire a man who “had loyally served the department.” At least that was the reasoning Councilman Joe Bolinger gave when he said he wanted James Lynch as chief. But in no time, the same man the council gave its support to saw that support be pulled out from under him.

Now we all have heard the whispers around town that Lynch stood firm to his beliefs when certain members of the council attempted to dictate their wants for the LPD.

So I have to question what is the council truly looking for in a police chief?

Do they want a strong leader who will rein in the city’s escalating crime rate? Do they want a man with management experience who can lift the morale of disheartened officers? Or does the majority of the council want a man they can call pronounce their edicts to and he will carry them out?

I wish Jefferies all the luck in the world in his new job. While he may have held middle management roles in the past and battled his fair share of criminals, he is venturing into unchartered territory with this job. The person who is the LPD chief is simply an instrument of the council- we have all seen and heard that.

The council had an opportunity to move the city forward by hiring a candidate with not only a strong skill set but with connections to resources. And I don’t mean any one of them in particular- many of them brought this to the table.

It just leaves me shaking my head asking if the majority of the council truly wants what is best for the city of LaFollette?