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Mayor says police chief, staff frustrated

by Dennis Sharkey

Oskaloosa City Councilman John Norman thought a meeting with the city’s police department employees went well until he heard otherwise from the mayor.

Mayor Mike Paavola said at last week’s regular city council meeting that Police Chief Rick Jones and another employee came to see him at his employment after a meeting they had with Norman and new City Councilwoman Emily Malsbury.

He said the main reason Jones was upset is because Norman brought Malsbury to the meeting.

The news seemed to be an ambush to both Norman and Malsbury who had both declared earlier in the meeting that both had a productive meeting with the employees. Malsbury asked Paavola if Jones and the other employees were angry.

“Yeah,” Paavola said loudly. “The department heads are supposed to do that. You’re not over that department. So they wanted to know why you were there.”

Norman tried to explain that he brought Malsbury along so that she could meet the police staff. Norman was interrupted by an irritated Paavola.

“That’s not your place,” Paavola said. “That’s what they are upset about. There’s a chain of command and it’s not being followed.”

Norman began to say that during a part of the meeting Jones and the employees became angry but then stopped himself and changed the decription of their demeanor to concerned.

He said they were concerned about the city moving in a direction of having two city council members overseeing the department.

“It’s not moving toward it,” Paavola said. “It’s always been that way for the last 10 years.”

“But he doesn’t want two council members over the department,” Norman said while emphasizing the word want.

Earlier in the meeting during a report from the police department Norman told the council about his and Malsbury’s meeting with Jones and the other officers. He said the meeting lasted about three hours while goals were set and other things discussed.

Malsbury also expressed earlier in the meeting that it was a productive meeting and mentioned communication between the department and council members as a priority based on a recent story published in the Independent.

“Of course they want us to communicate any complaints that any of us have to them,” Malsbury said. “I think that stems from…”

“We’re all on the same page,” Norman added when closing his report.

After the disclosure from Paavola Norman said he would have never dreamed that anyone was upset after leaving the meeting.

Paavola did not argue the point that two council members need to oversee the department whether the police like it or not. He said when only one person is in charge of the police they can get close to each other and “that’s when things go out the window,” Paavola said.

Norman said that he was not out of place by bringing Malsbury to the meeting. Norman said in an angry tone that he told Jones and the employees that two council members would oversee the department.

“That way everybody would understand that the back slapping buddy thing wasn’t going to be there anymore,” Norman said.

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Posted by on Feb 15 2012. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Oskaloosa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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