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Mayor says he will pick a chief

By Staff | Dec 25, 2011

Mayor Rob Hammond Jr.

Blue Earth Mayor Rob Hammond Jr. says he will be the one to appoint a new police chief and outlined the way he will determine the final candidate at Monday’s regular council meeting.

Hammond says the notice for applications will be an internal posting for the current Blue Earth police officers only.

Then, a committee composed of the mayor, city administrator and county sheriff will conduct the interview process.

Finally, the mayor says he will select the final candidate himself.

“The city’s charter gives me the authority to do this,” the mayor told the council. “You (the council) then vote to confirm my appointment – or not.”

Several councilmen voiced concerns over the process, but the mayor remained firm in his intent to follow his hiring plan.

“Maybe the personnel committee could be involved in this interview process,” Councilman John Huisman said. “We need more involvement by the council – more involvement by a public component, people who live in Blue Earth.”

Councilman Glenn Gaylord, however, noted that the mayor was correct.

“According to the charter, the mayor has the right to appoint whoever he wants,” Gaylord says. “And we have the right to say yes or no.”

Hammond responded that he understood the direction Huisman was trying to go, but that the charter was clear in giving the mayor the authority to appoint a police chief.

“So now I am going to do it this way,” Hammond says. “The previous chief was appointed this same way the last time, by the mayor. My intention is to follow this charter process.”

Hammond added it was his intention to have a new chief named in January.

“I will invite the person to the January council meeting,” Hammond says. “You (the council) can ask themany questions you want before you vote.”

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the interviews would be open to the public, so council members could attend them, without participating.

City Attorney David Frundt was asked about the charter language.

“The charter does give the mayor the authority to appoint ‘subordinate officers’ of the city,” Frundt explained. “That would include police and fire chief and the city administrator, attorney and engineer as well.”

Some council members questioned whether the charter gives the mayor the authority to determine the method which would be used to determine who he would appoint.

“I think the charter and state law gives me broad authority to arrive at the appointment,” the mayor says. “I determine it (appointment procedure).”

The council also took note that the annual meeting of the Charter Commission was scheduled for Dec. 21.

When asked if he thought the issue of the procedure for selecting a police chief should be added to the commission’s agenda, Councilman Huisman responded, “Absolutely.”