I have learned that Mayor Condon is refusing the City Council’s request to utilize the power he has to force OUR employees to talk to the City Council’s Investigator.
You might recall that news of the Council’s request was reported here on March 12th,2016.
I did a follow-up story on March 16th, 2016.
And again on March 18th, 2016 after the Inlander ran their story.
It is somewhat fitting that Mayor Condon’s refusal has come to light now since I have just done stories covering the compelled statements, under Garrity vs New Jersey, of Cops in IA Cases.
Despite what may come from City Hall as an excuse not to invoke Garrity the facts are clear that he has the power to do so, and it is standard procedure all over the US for Cities, Towns, and Counties. Only in Spokane as the saying goes.
Can Condon’s choice be considered “Obstructionist”? Well sure it can! Does Condon’s decision establish a precedent for the City of Spokane? Hopefully only for his Administration. Should Mayor Condon force Erin Jacobson a key figure in the investigation to talk? Well of course he should.
It is important to keep in mind that the Investigation is not only looking into the conduct of City Employees but also Condon’s conduct as well. If the players involved are not forced to talk how will the truth come out?
Is it fair? I can tell you a lot of Cops don’t think it is, simply because Condon through his Chief of Police forces them to talk, but refuses to force the people close to him to talk. I haven’t talked to any Garbage Collectors, Secretaries, or Maintenance Folks, but I would assume they have the same feelings that Cops do, as the Mayor can force each and every City Employee to talk, if he wants to, and he has in the past.
So were all of Mayor Condon’s election promises of transparency, just that…election promises? Well…you be the Judge.
So what can the City Council do to overcome the obstruction? The answer is they are limited, and whatever move they make it will likely cost us more money. The City Council is relying on the subpoena power granted them by the City Charter to force OUR City Employees to talk. Will it work? I have my concerns (It ain’t my first rodeo) and here is why. The City Council has the power to issue what are referred to as Administrative or Non-Judicial Subpoenas. That means they aren’t signed by a Judge. So here is how the process works you serve the Administrative Subpoena on the person, or business, depending upon the situation, the person or business gives the subpoena to their Lawyer, the Lawyer calls the folks who issued the subpoena and says… “We ain’t going to comply!”. Then whomever issued the subpoena has to go before a Judge plead their case as to the validity of the subpoena and get a Judge to sign one. Then the person or business is again served with the Judicial Subpoena and must comply or possibly face contempt charges. What a hassle right?
There are a lot of billable hours that take place once the Judicial Subpoena is served, but what happens often in a case like this is the individual shows up with their Lawyer who has already advised them to stand on their Fifth Amendment Rights so they do. I don’t know about you folks but I would love to join George McGrath in the City Council Chambers and watch that scenario play out…the question is will it?
I think you can see how much more expedient, and cost-effective it would be if OUR Mayor simply did the right and honest thing…but this is Spokane after all!