September 30, 2008 in City

Council considers ombudsman rules

Committee role concerns Rush
Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer
 

The Spokane City Council will vote next week on an ordinance to create an ombudsman for the Police Department, but one council member warned he’s not sure he can support it.

A public hearing at Monday’s council meeting ended with Councilman Richard Rush expressing skepticism over the ordinance. Specifically, he’s concerned with the requirement that the ombudsman be chosen from three candidates selected by a five-person committee made up of two city representatives, two police representatives and a person to be appointed by the first four. The language is part of the ordinance negotiated by the city and the police union, and council members have been told not to adjust it.

Council approved several changes to the ordinance pitched by Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, including changing how often the ombudsman issues reports from quarterly to monthly and nixing a sentence that would have required candidates to be from Spokane.

Rush said mandating that the council select a candidate pitched by an unelected committee bothers him.

“That removes the political accountability piece for this office from the mayor and puts it on an unaccountable committee,” Rush said.

“The only people that would be accountable if this committee gets formed via this legislation is the City Council.”


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