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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gary Crooks: Should the Senate hold hearings on Supreme Court pick?

The NCAA Tournament can bring an abrupt, cruel end to a long basketball season. Before Christmas, I watched my Arizona Wildcats rally to defeat Gonzaga at a raucous McCarthey Athletic Center. Four months later, the Wildcats got thumped in the first round, and the Bulldogs advanced.

Did that December game even matter? Sure seemed like it at the time. Hence, the madness of March.

Onward from basketball. This week I’d like to pose two questions. You may answer one or both. Contact information is at the end of this column.

Question No. 1: Should the U.S. Senate hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland? Include a brief explanation.

Question No. 2: Last week, the Washington State Patrol cracked down on drivers who camp out in the passing lane on Interstate 90. What should be the subject of the next emphasis patrol by traffic enforcers (any jurisdiction)?

THE PROPOSITION. Last week, I asked: “Would you rather keep the current way of hiring a police chief, or would you rather the position be subject to direct election?”

Here are the abridged versions of your replies:

“As someone who has served in law enforcement volunteer capacities, I have developed a more generalized view of how we should handle the justice system leaders, be they elected or appointed. The election of sheriffs and police chiefs is just fine if that is what the people want – but only with one major change. The entire justice system should be entirely and completely nonpartisan. … To allow party politics into the process at any stage taints it immeasurably and could permanently exclude certain individuals from their ‘day in court.’ ” – Mike Almond, Mead

“I would be in favor of electing a chief just like the Sheriff’s Department. My main reason is independence from political influence from the mayor and/or the City Council. The chief should have a set budget, say, some percent of the city general fund or a dedicated sales tax percentage that can’t be tampered with by the mayor or council. The only way to change the amount would be with the chief’s approval.” – Wayne Lythgoe, Colbert

“I have long believed Spokane would be best served by an elected police commissioner or chief. However, unlike the Spokane County sheriff, I would prefer the city’s police commissioner to be a nonpartisan position. To maintain consistency and integrity, our Police Department should not be subject to partisan party politics. Candidates would submit their resumés and philosophies to an advisory committee, which would review and recommend its top two or three choices be placed on the ballot.” – Michael D. Adams, Spokane

“Wrong subject … Should be about abolishing the strong mayor position. The entire City Council and the mayor should be choosing these appointed positions by a majority rule. We have experienced how a bad mayor can screw up a police department all by himself. Let’s see how our elected officials representing each district of the city would round out the decision-making process for leaders so critical to our well-being. They sure couldn’t do any worse than what the various mayors have done.” – Pete Powell, San Diego (formerly of Spokane)

“I would support electing a police chief. The campaign process would give voters an opportunity to directly vet candidates for the job. An elected chief would know he or she has support from a majority of voters. As an elected official, the chief would not be subjected to undue influence by the mayor or council. An independent chief seems like an attractive alternative to what we have seen over the last decade of hired guns.” – Jim Wavada, Spokane

Thanks for contributing. See you next week.

Opinion Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.