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On the Clock 

The city council gives Mayor Condon a police-chief timeline; plus, Jones runs afoul of Equal Rights Washington in race for state superintendent

click to enlarge The saga continues in Mayor Condon's effort to find a police chief for Spokane. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The saga continues in Mayor Condon's effort to find a police chief for Spokane.

HAIL TO THE ...

The Spokane City Council is giving Mayor David Condon about one month to produce his pick for SPOKANE'S NEXT POLICE CHIEF.

Councilmembers signed a letter early this week asking for a final nomination from the mayor by Sept. 30 — a little more than one year after former Chief Frank Straub was forced out amid accusations of an abusive and manipulative regime.

The letter comes after Condon bypassed a public vetting process that produced two outside candidates for the chief's job, instead selecting Capt. Craig Meidl, a 22-year SPD veteran.

Meidl did not apply for the job, and his appointment sparked outrage among those who contributed to the initial search.

Hours ahead of when councilmembers were set to vote to confirm or reject Meidl last week, Condon agreed to restart the process and allow Meidl to go through interviews similar to those who initially applied for the job.

The letter from the city council members lays out a timeline:

• Week of Aug. 29: reach out to community leaders to again participate in interview panels of finalists.

• By Sept. 15: An 11-member selection committee will review answers from all semifinalists and will vote for up to four finalists. Members of the committee include councilmembers Lori Kinnear and Breean Beggs; City Administrator Theresa Sanders; former interim Chief Rick Dobrow; Pastor Shon Davis; interim ombudsman Bart Logue; Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, the city's Director of Multicultural Affairs; Ken Hohenberg, chief of the Kennewick Police Department; and Gabe Cabellero of Spokane's Police Leadership Advisory Committee.

• Week of Sept. 19: Panelists will interview top candidates, followed by a public forum in the evening.

• Sept. 30: Condon's deadline to send his selection to the city council for approval. (MITCH RYALS)

STEEP LEARNING CURVE

While it remains to be seen who will be elected the next Washington state superintendent of public instruction, whoever assumes the post will almost certainly have to grapple with the contentious issue of the CIVIL RIGHTS of gay, lesbian and transgender students. Equal Rights Washington, an LGBT advocacy organization, says that one candidate clearly understands the issues surrounding these students, while the other faces a steep learning curve.

ERW has endorsed Democratic state Rep. Chris Reykdal for superintendent, writing in a statement that he "demonstrates a consistent commitment to being an ally regardless of who he is speaking to." Monisha Harrell, chair of ERW's board, says that while Erin Jones, an educator and former assistant state superintendent who is also running for the position, is willing to learn more about the issues, she doesn't display the same level of understanding as Reykdal.

But the big deal-breaker, says Harrell, was a written statement that Jones gave to SWWEducation.org, a conservative education blog, that asked for candidates' stances on "teaching transgenderism." Jones responded by stating she did "not want 4th grade students to feel additional pressure to 'choose an orientation.'"

Harrell says that ERW took issue with the statement because it enforces the idea that sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice.

"It just trivializes the identity of the of LGBT individual," says Harrell. "This is someone who is going to be leading education who doesn't understand this very basic premise, that this is who you are. It's not a choice. It's not something you can catch from an early exposure."

Jones didn't respond to a request for comment, but in the same statement to SWWEducation.org, she cited her long history of being an "advocate for the LGBTQ community." (JAKE THOMAS)

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