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Do We Follow Logic Or Law?

By Cheryl Steele’s standards of conflict, the political spat that now surrounds her must seem pretty tepid.

This, after all, is the woman whose exasperation with crime drove her to launch the city’s aggressive neighborhood cop shop program. Next to that, how glamorous can a civil service showdown be?

Glamorous? Maybe not. But important, anyway.

For the past three years, Steele has been a temporary, part-time employee of the Spokane Police Department, first as a clerk and most recently as coordinator of the neighborhood substation program.

You can’t do that, scolded the Spokane Civil Service Commission. Last year, Steele hauled in more than $24,000 and worked more than twice the allowable hours for a part-timer. The commission said such a job must be advertised so qualified applicants can compete for it.

Now the City Council has contracted the substation operation to newly incorporated, non-profit Spokane C.O.P.S. and recommended that Steele, who left the city payroll last week, be hired as project coordinator.

What do you think matters most here - letter-of-the-law compliance with fair-hiring procedures, or retaining the experience and demonstrated ability of someone who oversaw the program as it tripled in size and grew in stature?

I’d like to include your opinions in the next Bagpipes on Thursday. To have your thoughts considered, reply as explained below by noon Wednesday.

Bring on the fatted calf

What kind of sacrifices will be made on the altar of federal budget-tightening?

Communities in the Grand Coulee Dam area think their public safety may be. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, for years a critical component of the local fire-fighting effort, plans to end that role.

Meanwhile, the entire Northwest’s economy could take a hit if the Bonneville Power Administration raises rates; and Fairchild Air Force Base’s future in Spokane now induces anxiety on a regular basis.

If the budget-trimming zeal is real, many regions that count on federal payrolls and services will have difficult adjustments to make.

Does the government owe them a pain-dulling phase-out, or should locales that have prospered at federal taxpayers’ expense have to endure the amputation without anesthetic? What’s your solution?