Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is Issue Five Being Tested?

Something odd is happening in the top ranks of the Cincinnati Police Division, and it's not clear to me that anyone really has a handle on it. I also haven't seen anyone asking some important questions about how what's happening comports--or conflicts--with the City Charter.

Jane Prendergast blogs that Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher has created a new job for Assistant Chief Richard Janke. The move was made because Janke allegedly raised his voice to another assistant chief and was disrespectful towards Streicher himself.

Ordinarily, a little rearranging in the upper police ranks wouldn't be too interesting. But assistant chiefs aren't like captains or lieutenants. That's because assistant chiefs are appointed by the city manager, not the chief. That's a result of the passage of Issue 5 by city voters back in 2001. (When Chief Streicher leaves his post, he too will be replaced by the city manager.) This is spelled out in Article V, Section 5 of the Charter. (We've previously discussed Issue Five here.)

Until Chief Streicher's unilateral decision to reorganize the department, CPD had five bureaus (Patrol, Resource, Administration, Investigations, and Information Management) each headed by an assistant chief. Lt. Col. Janke previously headed the Administration Bureau, but is now being moved to something new called a "Special Projects Bureau" in an effort to limit "the necessity for him to interact with his peers and subordinates." Remember: if Chief Streicher simply demoted Janke, leaving the position in charge of the Administration Bureau vacant, his replacement would be appointed by Milton Dohoney (and perhaps "burdening" the Chief with an assistant he likes even less). Instead, the Chief has radically redefined Janke's job duties, ostensibly leaving no assistant chief vacancy.

To me, this all raises the following questions:
  • Does the Chief has the authority to change the organizational table in this way? A knee-jerk response would be "of course," but I'm not sure it's that simple. At the very least, the number of assistant chiefs is fixed by Council; we have five chiefs only because the City--not the Chief--created an additional position in 2004.
  • Assuming the Chief has this authority, at one point does he so limit the authority of an assistant chief that he's not really an "assistant chief" any longer?
  • If the Chief has, in fact, made Janke a de facto non-chief (albeit with the rank of lieutenant colonel), can the City Manager declare the creation of a vacancy and use his authority under the Charter to fill it?
  • Finally, is Janke grieving this or otherwise appealing it through civil service laws (since--I believe--he was grandfathered into his position and is not himself subject to Article V, Section 5)? Or is this a non-grievable, non-appealable decision in that it (apparently) doesn't impact Janke's rank or pay?
This could quickly become a messy, thorny thicket. The charitable part of me wants to believe that Chief Streicher, while dissatisfied with Lt. Col. Janke's work, wants to spare him (given his decades of service to CPD) the embarassment and financial cost of demotion. But my more cynical instincts suspect that the Chief has essentially ended Janke's tenure as an assistant chief, but done so in a way to deprive the City Manager of the ability to make an appointment.

Or maybe there's nothing at all going on here, and I'm just procrastinating rather than organizing my messy desk on a Saturday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be an idiot or your post will be deleted.