Posted on Friday, January 18 2008 by Heather Brandon
James Morton (pictured last spring, with Governor Deval Patrick and former Taunton Mayor Robert Nunes), a member of the Springfield Finance Control Board, is chairing the city’s search committee for a new police commissioner. At yesterday’s board meeting, he delivered a brief update on the status of the search, indicating that an “openly transparent” process will characterize it, including public interviews of finalists during the week of March 10.
“We’ve established the process for the selection of a police commissioner,” he reported during the meeting. “As many of you know, the deadline for applications is January 21. We begin our review of those resumés on the twenty-second, and we’ll begin to score those resumés by committee, and we’ll have a tabulation of that scoring by February 6.”
Thereafter, Morton said, the search committee will begin to vet each of the candidates, with plans to conduct preliminary interviews during the week of February 25, two weeks prior to the week of public interviews.
“The finalist interviews will be public interviews,” Morton ended, “and those will take place so that the process is openly transparent to the public, as well as to those who are stakeholders in this process.”
In related news, the Springfield Republican called for Mayor Domenic Sarno to recuse himself from the search committee in an editorial today, based on his well-publicized advance decision that Acting Police Commissioner William Fitchet should have the job permanently. The editorial calls such statements “blatant disregard for ethics.” From the piece:
Sarno says he won’t have any problem being objective when the names of the commissioner finalists come before the Finance Control Board, which he joined on the day of his inauguration. Such a statement is either wishful thinking or blind ambition, but neither is commendable.
We would have a little more confidence in Sarno’s ability to be objective if the most memorable line out of his campaign had been “Time for change” rather than “Billy Fitchet is my man.”
In response, blogger Bill Dusty wrote in a post today, regarding the police commissioner search, “Sarno’s opinion was perfectly clear to everyone when the [control board] made its decision to conduct a search. …If Sarno pretended not to have an opinion, and had made a behind-the-scenes decision to set up a job for an unqualified candidate, then that would be business as usual for the City.”
Whatever the bias, the ethical violation or the outcome, at least now the public can be a witness to a piece of the selection process for the last stage of the game, as long as the public is alerted to the fact the interviews are taking place, where and when, and the media gives a helping hand.