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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.
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For the week of July 31 - August 6, 2002

News

Mayor-police dispute may head to court


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

A long-simmering dispute between Ketchum’s mayor and police chief could be on its way to the legal arena.

Ketchum Police Lt. Mike McNeil said Tuesday he would file "a formal grievance against the city" this week over the appointment of a Blaine County Sheriff’s deputy as Ketchum’s assistant police chief.

Two people have been named to the position, which has been open for about a year. In late June, Mayor Ed Simon appointed sheriff’s Lt. Ron Taylor, but Police Chief Cal Nevland announced he had promoted McNeil.

A combination of state law and city code is somewhat muddy on which of the two has the authority to make the decision, although City Attorney Margaret Simms said she believes the city’s employee handbook gives it to Simon. McNeil’s claim, presumably, will clarify that.

McNeil said he will finalize the nature of his claim today with his attorney.

Taylor’s appointment is scheduled to take effect Thursday. Simms said McNeil’s claim should not change that.

Nevland has contended that Taylor’s appointment was the latest move in a long-standing grudge held against the department by Simon. In a 1992 recall election, Ketchum voters removed then-council members Simon, Pam Ritzau and Larry Young over an issue involving the police department. Simon insists the appointment has no connection to the events of 1992, and that Taylor is simply the more qualified of the two candidates.

McNeil, however, contended that Taylor "doesn’t know our department." He also said the appointment has discouraged Ketchum officers who assumed they would be promoted as positions became available.

"This is not a decision that affects just me," McNeil said. "It affects other members of the department. Ed did more to ruin the morale in this department in six months than I could begin to tell you."

Under the state’s tort claims law, the city has 90 days to rule on McNeil’s claim. If the claim is denied, he can file a lawsuit in 5th District Court.

The long-standing dispute, McNeil said, "is far from over."

 

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