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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002


Simon, Nevland face 
off over hiring

Choice of Ketchum assistant 
police chief in dispute

Express Staff Writer

In the midst of huge employee turnover at Ketchum City Hall, the resort city’s police chief and mayor are facing off over the hiring of a new assistant police chief.

Each said last week he had filled the position, each hiring a different person.

"I promoted Lt. Mike McNeil," Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland said.

"The buck has to stop with the mayor," Mayor Ed Simon said of his decision to hire Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ron Taylor.

The confrontation between Simon and Nevland is only the latest chapter in an ongoing drama. On Nov. 3, 1992, Ketchum voters removed then-council members Simon, Pam Ritzau and Larry Young from office just 10 months into their terms. The recall culminated a dispute between the city council and Nevland and involved police department officers, including Lt. McNeil.

"No. No way. It has absolutely nothing to do with ’92," Simon said, countering allegations made by Nevland that the mayor may have chosen not to promote McNeil because of past events.

But despite Nevland’s challenge, the city’s employee handbook appears clear on who has the ultimate hiring authority at city hall.

"Officers of the city…shall be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. Other city employees shall be hired by the mayor," the handbook states.

The handbook is also clear about how candidates are to be selected, and it stresses hiring internally and using department head recommendations.

"Recruitment shall be conducted first among current city employees to extend promotional opportunities to them, whenever possible…Department heads shall recommend to the mayor the hiring and termination of employees within their departments…"

Simon said the mandate isn’t as clear as it might seem.

"It really is discretionary in the eyes of the mayor," he said. "I don’t want to say whether someone’s qualified or not qualified. The question is: Who is most qualified?"

Nevland said the handbook is clearer than that.

"The whole issue here is, this person I have chosen as assistant chief has been working here for 18 years. He’s a very committed employee who has worked (as assistant chief) for a year and a half. He’s proven himself. The manual is clear about internal hiring," Nevland said.

The employee handbook, however, is not intended to be an exclusive source of rules and regulations concerning employment with the city, according to the handbook’s introduction. But local and state laws are also unclear.

Idaho code says the mayor has "superintending control of all the officers and affairs in the city," but otherwise says he or she is the chief administrative official, subject to local and state laws. Ketchum’s Appointive Officers ordinance cites only department heads and requires mayoral appointments for department heads subject to city council ratification.

The law aside, former Ketchum police officer Pete Cantor said McNeil is the clear choice for assistant police chief in Ketchum. Cantor resigned from the Ketchum police force in 1976.

"I respect Ed (Simon), but I just disagree with his decision on this matter," Cantor said. "My feeling on it is that it’s more personal or political than practical."

Cantor said promotions are employee incentives that help boost morale and employee performances.

"I can see that Mike (McNeil) does his job," Cantor said. "I know Cal (Nevland) very well, and his having the confidence to promote Mike—I trust Cal’s opinion very much."

And Nevland, who joined the Ketchum Police Department as a dogcatcher in 1973 before climbing the ranks, said Simon ignored his accumulated experience.

"I don’t think there’s anybody who has the knowledge of who is qualified for this position better than I do," Nevland said.

Simon said Taylor is scheduled to start Aug. 15, a date Nevland said he had not been informed of.

"I’m only the department head. Why would I know when my assistant is going to show up?" he said in a tone of clear sarcasm.

This is the second personnel snafu of Simon’s six-month tenure at Ketchum City Hall. Before taking office last December, Simon’s intentions to eliminate the city attorney’s position met criticism among city council members and the community.

Shortly after being sworn in, Simon said he abandoned plans to terminate the city attorney and eliminate the city attorney’s office.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.