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Police Chief’s Hires Under Fire Temporary-Seasonal Workers Have Been Employed For Three Years

Spokane Police Chief Terry Mangan’s hiring policies are drawing fire from unions and civil service officials.

Two employees hired by Mangan as temporary-seasonal workers have been on the payroll more than three years.

One is the wife of a police department administrator, which also may violate the city’s nepotism policy.

In a memo sent last month, Chief Civil Service Examiner Harvey Harden asked Mangan to fire Linda Ingle and Cheryl Steele and fill their jobs “through the regular competitive process.”

“These aren’t seasonal employees and these aren’t temporary employees,” Harden said.

Mangan is fighting the civil service edict with a proposal to reclassify the workers.

“They’ve been temporary-seasonal employees for several years,” said Barbara Burns, an assistant city attorney and president of the city’s managerial and professional association. “That tells you they’re more than temporary.”

Mangan hired Ingle, wife of David Ingle, the police planning director, as a temporary employee in 1992 to design documents for the department’s new computer-aided dispatch system.

She works in her home, earning $15 an hour. She made about $26,400 last year.

Steele, also hired in 1992, coordinates the police department’s neighborhood substation program. City records show Steele making $7 an hour, but she said her salary jumped to $12 an hour last May. She earned about $18,300 last year.

Steele said she’s not letting the recent controversy upset her work.

“I don’t want to lose sight of doing what I’m doing,” Steele said. “I’ll let someone else worry about that.

“My mission is to keep working at the street level. I did this for years for nothing.”

Messages left at Ingle’s home were not returned.

Civil service rules say a temporaryseasonal employee can’t work more than 960 hours during a year’s time. Steele worked 1,932 hours in 1994, and Ingle worked 1,760.

Randy Withrow, a union representative for some city workers, said Mangan never asked to extend the temporary-seasonal positions past the limit, “which tells me they’re trying to hide something.”

Mangan recently asked a subgroup of the civil service commission to change the jobs to “project” positions. A project employee can work no longer than three years toward a specific goal - giving both women three more years of job security.

The committee denied the request, and Mangan appealed the decision to the full commission, which meets Tuesday.

Mangan said both employees are essential to the department, and he’s working with the city manager’s office to find a way to keep them.

Ingle’s job stretched past the 960-hour limit because of problems getting the new computer-aided dispatch system up and running, Mangan said. Her work should be done in about a year.

Steele started with the department when there were three substations. Now, there are nine on line and five more on the way. Her job has “evolved into a full-time position.” Mangan said.

“We’re trying to find the appropriate way to address (the department’s) needs to get the best bang for the taxpayer’s buck,” said Mangan.

Asked why he didn’t hire Ingle on a contract, Mangan said that would cause “old nepotism problems. It makes for a legal complication.”

Personnel policies forbid employees to hire or supervise their relatives. David Ingle doesn’t supervise his wife, but he does supervise her boss, said Jim Smith, the city’s personnel director.

“I’m still looking into it,” Smith said. “The unions have talked to me about this.”

City Attorney James Sloane said he knows of no law specifically forbidding the city from awarding contracts to relatives of employees. But a combination of state ethics laws, the city charter and the nepotism policy may make it inadvisable, he said.

Because Ingle has expertise in computer programming, there’s a “legitimate reason for having her on the job, said City Manager Roger Crum.

“I want her to finish the job she’s been hired to do,” Crum said. “After that, the image is such that she probably shouldn’t continue on.”

Chief Examiner Harden said civil service policies were designed to ensure fair hiring practices.

Prior to 1960 - the year the policies were stiffened - there were three ways to get a job, Harden said. “You had to know someone, be related to someone or campaign real hard for your commissioner.”

In recent years, some department managers have become increasingly critical of civil service, saying it limits their ability to hire the best people for specialized jobs.