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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 August 7 - 13, 2002

News

Mayorís assistant chief pick blocked from office


"This is a warning shot. Iím firing across the bow (of Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon). Iím not generally politically motivated, but when I see BS, I know it."

ó STEVE LINDEN, Ketchum resident who is checking into the cityís recall procedures


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

A long-simmering dispute between Ketchumís mayor and police chief entered the courtroom last week following several months of uncertainty surrounding the hiring of an assistant chief of police.

"This is a dispute between the mayor and the chief of police over who has the power to appoint the assistant chief of police," said Attorney Cynthia Woolley, who is representing Ketchum Police Lt. Mike McNeil and Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland.

McNeil and Nevland filed a lawsuit Aug. 1 citing the city of Ketchum and Mayor Ed Simon as defendants. Later that day, a visiting district judge granted the plaintiffsí request for an injunction against Simon that prohibited the mayorís appointment of Lt. Ron Taylor of the Blaine County Sheriffís Office from taking effect as Ketchumís assistant police chief.

The court will reconvene Aug. 28 in Hailey at 9 a.m. to consider extending the injunction during the case and to hear briefs from both sides. Twin Falls Judge Roger Burdick will take over from 5th District Judge James May, who recused himself from the case.

Meanwhile, the Ketchum City Council has met in at least one executive session with McNeil, Nevland and Wolley to entertain a grievance McNeil filed with the city. The mayor did not participate in that discussion, and resolution has not yet been reached at that level.

Both state law and city code are somewhat muddy on whether the mayor or police chief has the authority to hire and fire within the police department. However, City Attorney Margaret Simms said she believes the cityís employee handbook and state law give authority to Simon.

Meanwhile, some Ketchum citizens are beginning to get riled by the dispute.

Steve Linden, a10-year Ketchum resident, went to Ketchum City Hall Monday morning to ask the cityís staff about recall procedures.

"Somebody needs to step forward and start applying pressure from the electorate," Linden said. "Iím dissatisfied with the way the mayor is doing things. I think itís important that the public watches this, the micro-management that goes on constantly."

Linden said a recall is a very divisive thing he hopes never to participate in. But he said that he believes there are enough upset Ketchum citizens to at least get the ball rolling.

"This is a warning shot," he said. "Iím firing across the bow (of Simon). Iím not generally politically motivated, but when I see BS, I know it."

Ironically, perhaps, talk about a recall is nothing new to Simon. In 1992, he and two other former Ketchum City Council members were recalled after they voted to fire Nevland.

Nevland contended that Taylorís appointment was the latest move in a long-standing grudge, which stemmed from the 1992 recall election. Simon insists the appointment has no connection to those events, and that Taylor is simply the more qualified of the two candidates.

McNeil, however, contended that Taylor "doesnít know our department." He also said the appointment has discouraged Ketchum officers who assumed they could be promoted as positions became available.

"This is not a decision that affects just me," he 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."

For his part, Nevland said he just wants to see quick resolution.

"Iíd like to see this put to rest," he said. "The sooner the better for the individuals involved and for the community."

Despite the injunction, which at least temporarily prevents Taylor from reporting to work, Ketchum began paying him Aug. 1, the day the mayor set for him to report to work.

 

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