Floating just under the penetrative waves of the political radar over the past 4 years has been a deep and abiding morale problem among New Albany’s Finest, our men and women in blue. At the senior command level, all is well, as evidenced by the active campaigning and generous campaign contributions from the chief and deputy chief. But in the ranks, there’s a nasty smell.
Personally, I believe an Indiana mayor has no business being in an adversarial relationship with the law enforcement officers he employs. However, the long-standing abdication of duty by multiple city councils has brought us to a state where our mayor is not advocating for our police officers but, rather, harshly working to diminish their job satisfaction. But that’s beside the current point.
In order to give broader coverage to their plaint, I’m republishing the text of a newspaper advertisement placed this week by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 99. And yes, I’m doing so because I believe the safety and well-being of this city depend on Jeff Gahan being retired from public office. Indeed, I am continually amused that so many feign outrage that a blog, a Facebook post, or a Tweet might contain an actual wish that the writer’s preferred candidate be elected and that the incumbent be retired. City employees and appointees and the mayor’s family members seem to think that electoral politics requires silence about the issues and deference to their chosen one.
Enough. Here is the text of the relevant open letter to the voters:
As president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 99, I have been asked to express the Lodge’s absolute and unequivocal anger at the lack of respect shown to the Officers and Members of the F.O.P. by the current Mayor Gahan. Since he took office, the mayor has gone out of his way to ignore his lawful obligations to or with us.
Mayor Gahan began by refusing to sign a contract agreed to by Mayor England, resulting in a totally unnecessary arbitration and expensive litigation for the City. Inexplicably, more recently, he failed to present an Arbitration Award rendered in May of this year to the City Council. When I talked about the Award with the City Council at its regular meeting on September 2, 2015, the members were shocked that the financial information, so necessary to its budgeting process, had been knowingly withheld from the Council. (In retrospect, this was a harbinger of things to come. The County Council has had to sue the Mayor to get financial information it believes necessary to do its job.)
It appears that the latest refusal to abide by a lawful Arbitrator’s Award, as required by local ordinance, will again result in costing the City needless litigation expenses.
The position of Mayor Gahan in ignoring his obligations under local ordinance is the most arrogant display of disrespect possible: ignore your lawful obligations then compound it by needlessly spending City revenue to defend your unlawful actions, again, with out-of-town lawyers.
This disrespect is not reserved for the F.O.P. It is visited on individual members in a variety of ways. For instance, early in his Administration, an Officer reached his mandatory retirement age. He was a Navy veteran with 40 years of service to the City. Rather than telling him well in advance that he was going to be forced into retirement, the Officer was called in at the end of his shift and told he was retired. No advance notice, no time for him to prepare for his sudden unemployment, and a practice not theretofore implemented by any other Administrator.
In a similar incident, the Mayor vehemently opposed the return to work of an Officer, and a U.S. Marine veteran. who was cleared by three separate physicians to do so, two of which were the City’s physicians. Fortunately, the Merit Commission restored the Officer to his employment.
It appears that Gahan has not learned a life lesson that people may not remember what you said to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. He has apparently made it his goal to make every Officer feel disrespected.
Each day, when a member of the New Albany Police Department put on his/her uniform and badge and walks out the door to work, they are saying to the citizens of New Albany “we’ve got your back.” The time has come for this Mayor to discontinue his campaign of disrespect. He can do that by simply abiding by all Arbitrator’s Awards for all public safety employees, as the law requires.
We appreciate the support we have had from the citizens of New Albany and wish we could get the same from Mayor Gahan.
President, Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 99