Friday, August 6, 2004

Hall opts to stay on City Council

Mayor calls decision to decline city job ?disgraceful?

Express Staff Writer

Randy Hall

Ketchum City Council President Randy Hall will not resign from his elected office.

In a decision that shocked some city leaders, Hall this week declined a full-time paramedic job with the Ketchum Fire Department, a position that?if accepted?could have forced him to give up his council seat.

Hall informed Ketchum Fire Chief Greg Schwab Wednesday, Aug. 4 that he would not accept the engineer-paramedic job offered to him two weeks ago on July 23.

Hall said Wednesday that the primary factor in his decision was his desire to retain his seat on the City Council, to which he was re-elected last November to serve a four-year term.

?I made a commitment six months ago to do this job and I need to follow through on my commitments,? he said. ?It was an emotional, moral and ethical decision.?

If Hall had taken the city job, he likely would have been asked to re-sign from his elected office pursuant to a case-law legal precedent that declared City Council positions and city-employee positions are incompatible offices.

Hall said he ?felt completely out of balance? with the thought of leaving the City Council.

The councilman said he will continue to pursue a paramedic career in Twin Falls, where he currently holds a one-day-per-week paramedic position with Magic Valley Regional Medical Center. He will also retain his paid, part-time, on-call position with the Ketchum Fire Department.

Mayor Ed Simon, who issued final approval of the Ketchum job offer, was highly critical of Hall?s decision, calling it ?unusual? and ?disgraceful.?

?I?m disappointed because he has taken a lot of public funding to complete his training and now we will not get the benefit of that in Blaine County,? Simon said.

The mayor added: ?To me, quite frankly, it?s selfish ? To take the funds and decline the position is disgraceful.?

Simon and Hall are political rivals of sorts, often finding themselves in sharp disagreement over how many city matters are handled.

If Hall had accepted the city job and resigned from the City Council, Simon would have been given the opportunity to nominate someone to the four-person legislative body who could have served as more of a political ally.

Instead, the equation is quite different. When asked if he might challenge for the mayor?s office in the November 2005 city election, Hall said he has not ruled out that possi-bility.

?There has been some thought that if I took a job with the Fire Department it would limit my options to run for political office,? he said.

Hall has served on the Ketchum City Council since May 1998. In January, he was sworn in to serve a four-year term that will not expire until the end of 2007.

He said the decision to decline the full-time Ketchum job was extremely difficult, particularly because he is pursuing a full-time career as an emergency paramedic.

In June, he completed a rigorous paramedic-certification program that required months of study and active training, much of which was com-pleted through Magic Valley Regional Medical Center.

Hall said Magic Valley Regional Medical Center has offered him an opportunity to start this summer a 90-day intensive paramedic field-training course, something he believes is critical to his development as an emer-gency responder.

?I?m disappointed because I feel I worked really hard in the last year,? Hall said. ?But the reality is ? I still get to be on the City Council, I still get to be on the Ketchum Fire Department and I get to keep my Magic Valley job.?

The timing of the Ketchum job opening appeared to be very fortuitous for Hall, who saw the paramedic position posted shortly after he was certified. After Hall was selected over a short list of applicants, Simon extended an official job offer.

The current 2003-2004 Ketchum budget calls for the city to hire a new captain to its full-time Fire Department staff. Schwab said he planned to hire Hall as an entry-level employee and then promote an existing staff member to the captain?s position.

The decision on whether to accept the Ketchum position was delayed in part, Hall said, by a debate over whether he would be allowed to retain his one-day post in Twin Falls and complete the 90-day training course.

After hearing of Hall?s decision, Schwab said he is unsure how he will proceed, noting that he is not certain the paramedic-engineer position will be immediately advertised.

Hall said he would consider a future job opportunity with the Ketchum Fire Department if one arises.

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