Interestingly on the day prior to the election, without fanfare, and after a concerted effort, primarily by Spokane City Councilmember Breean Beggs (Congratulations), to find a replacement for former Office of Police Ombudsman Commission Chairperson Deb Conklin the City Council confirmed the appointment of Lawyer Elizabeth Kelley to replace Conklin.
I have hopes that this very late in coming move will begin the process of being able to watch the OPOC change from the agenda driven, self-serving, behind the scenes backstabbing Conklin brought to the OPOC and move it in a direction that is in the interest of the entire Community, including Cops, and not just a few.
As I have mentioned time and time again, the mostly powerless, because of the Police Union Contracts, OPOC in order to be the least bit effective must put political ideology aside and function as a unified group of individuals who have respect for each other’s opinions and ideas specifically relating to their mission of Police Oversight, otherwise you end up with exactly what the Police Unions expected when they agreed to the union contracts.
I seriously doubt there will be much in the way of true independent oversight that will come out of Mayor Condon’s ongoing secret negotiations with the Police Unions, so what we got is what we got, despite the overwhelming Citizen’s vote to provide independent Police Oversight in the City Charter.
Along with the ouster of Conklin, soon Conklin’s side kick and informant Martha Huseman will also be gone because she was unable to pass the Civil Service Exam for the position she now holds, even though I have reported on some of Huseman’s and Conklin’s efforts to usurp the Civil Service process, I haven’t reported the entire back story and it appears there will no longer be a need to do so.
Does it concern me that Ms. Kelley is a lawyer? Not at this point, and I probably won’t be concerned as long as she doesn’t offer legal advice to the OPOC and quietly sticks to her experience as a Criminal Defense lawyer during her decision-making process. There has been far too much legal advice given to the OPOC from lawyers not under contract to the OPOC, and not members of the City Attorney’s Office, some of which is in direct conflict with legal advice given to the OPOC by those actually responsible for providing them with legal advice.
What does interest me about Ms. Kelley is that she has worked in some of the same places I have outside of the US, so we may have some of the same experiences in that regard, although I doubt she was ever made to stay in her hotel room with a couple of guards making sure she didn’t go anywhere (long story).
She might even recognize the building pictured above (someone managed to surreptitiously get a photo of for a case), and we could share a laugh or two about it someday.
I’m now faced with a challenging dilemma; exactly what direction to take given the circumstances. In December 2016 and early January 2017, I received information regarding the completely dysfunctional OPOC ala Rachael Dolezal which included a number of documents, my investigative reporting evolved into later having to do PRRs in some cases to get official copies of documents I already had in my possession because no one would step up and admit what was going on. So much to the chagrin of my friends Terri Pfister, and Lori Farnsworth once again I had to bother them just to bring transparency to the issue. The PRRs I was forced to submit because of lack of action by City Leaders remain ongoing and a challenge to complete by the understaffed, under budgeted, underpaid, City Clerk’s Office. Hell, I even made an offer both publicly and privately to pull PRRs if the City Council would do something about getting rid of the problem child, they of course chose not to do much of anything until just prior to November 6, 2017 just prior to election day. So, my dilemma is where do I go from here, and do I embarrass a bunch of folks with what I have as well as initiate another Public Records Act lawsuit against the City of Spokane…I gotta think about it for a while.
As far as other media coverage of this important issue is concerned only the Inlander covered some of the dysfunction. The Spokesman Review just doesn’t do Investigative Reporting like they have in the past with the new and supposedly improved fluff and puff philosophy, to the dismay of some of the staff I might add.
Shar A. Lichty, Mayor Condon’s opponent in the last election and Peace and Justice Action League Activist put out a call for her constituency to flood last night’s OPOC meeting with folks objecting to Conklin’s dismissal, it really didn’t amount to much and basically just demonstrated the importance of the OPOC not letting a particular agenda influence oversight one way or the other.