Bishop City Council Meets in Special Session
by Arnie Palu
Three Bishop Police Department items were on the agenda for today’s special meeting of the Bishop City Council. The City Council took action to approve former Chief Chris Carter as short term interim chief. City Administrator Jim Tatum noted that Carter will serve as interim police chief on an as needed basis at a rate of $54.52 per hour. The short term agreement has Carter on board through the month of October. Tatum noted that the department is hoping to have a Lieutenant in place October 26th. Tatum indicated that the new Lieutenant would then serve as interim chief while the 4 to 5 month search for a Police Chief is finalized.
The firm completing that search had their revised contract approved today. The City Council voted 4-0 approving a professional services agreement with Ralph Andersen and Associates for the recruitment of a police chief. The agreement notes the recruitment firm will be paid an amount not to exceed $26,000.
Prior to the third action being addressed, Councilman Joe Pecsi and City Administrator Jim Tatum excused themselves from the council chambers. The third item up for action today centered on the council naming a firm to investigate the claims of a letter signed by 7 members of the Bishop Police Department. The “Letter of No Confidence in Police Chief Chris Carter” was delivered to local media and the city council on September 17th. The letter included accusations against City Administrator Jim Tatum, City Councilman Joe Pecsi, and then Police Chief Chris Carter. Accusations to be included in the investigation will include, but not be limited to, misconduct, violation of established policies, conflict of interest, compliance with a formally negotiated memorandum of understanding, misuse of government resources and violations of the Police Officers Bill of Rights. Following a short discussion the three remaining council members, Karen Schwartz, Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Smith and Mayor Patricia Gardner voted to approve the professional services agreement with Norman Traub Associates. The agreement indicates that the city of Bishop will pay the investigators from Yorba Linda $200 per hour plus expenses. Also, in the event the investigator is required to provide testimony at a post-investigation hearing, deposition or trial, the fee is $250 per hour plus expenses.
Council member Schwartz raised concerns about the expense with Acting Legal Council Peter Tracy indicating the investigation could take months to finalize. Mayor Pro-Tem Smith acknowledged the expense saying however, “This needs to be done”. Mayor Gardner commented, “We have to look into all the allegations”. The agreement was approved on a 3-0 vote.
There were zero members of the public at Tuesdays 11am special meeting.
Ted Carleton of the Sheet and myself were the only two in attendance.
Councilman Jim Ellis was absent and excused.
The Bishop City Council will next meet on Tuesday, October 13.