Palmer chief still on duty following council’s action
By 07/26/2007 00:00:00
Citizens still in dark about fate of police chief
PALMER - The stage was set for some drama at the Palmer city council meeting. With the room packed with citizens ready to pounce at the mention of items on the agenda concerning Palmer Police Chief Scott Lynch.
'We were unaware of any problems the chief had until we saw the city council agenda,' said Lance Wyatt, the attorney representing Lynch.
When the agenda item finally came up, after a lengthy discussion about Palmer putting in its own town water meter, Wyatt requested the discussion about the fate of Lynch be open to the citizens.
'My client expected to come in and speak to the council in person,' said Wyatt. 'But that was not the case, it just didn't happen.'
The open meetings laws concerning when a quorum can go into executive session does provide for two items which are important.
A city council can go into executive session to discuss an employee, but this cannot be done if the employee requests the discussion be done in open, which in this case it was requested.
And a city council can go into executive session to discuss items with the city's attorney, who was also on the agenda and according to the Palmer city manager, Doug Young; this was exactly what the council was doing.
Young could not discuss with the press what actually went on while in executive session, but did say the council did not break any open meetings laws which pertained to the agenda items.
When the council finally came out of executive session the decision was to take no action on the employment of police chief and again, this left the citizens at the meeting wondering what exactly was going on with the council.
Young said, 'I am not aware of any specific complaints about the police chief,' He did not know how the item got on the agenda or who had placed it on the agenda in the first place.
'I do not know who placed the item on the agenda, but the mayor did narrow the agenda down to these items,' said Young.
The main complaint from Wyatt was his client and the citizens were not being told by the council about what was going on with the police chief.
'We were not going to allow the citizens to be kept in the dark about Chief Lynch,' said Lynch. 'We wanted everything to be discussed out in the open because we did not have anything to hide.' As it appears now, the chief will still be in a position to lead the police department, but decided to take a short vacation through this week even though rumors are flying that the chief had been placed on administrative leave.
'This is not true at all, my client decided to take some vacation time,' said Wyatt.
It was unknown if or when this agenda item will go before the city council again, but one thing was sure, the discussion about what the council was doing was not over.
Many citizens have spoken about their disappointment about the events which occurred at the meeting, but the meeting did show the support Lynch has from the community.
This can only shore up Lynch's position even though no one from the council was telling anyone why the chief's position was in jeopardy in the first place.
One citizen even read a list of items of questions to the council concerning the employment of the police chief, but there were no comments from the council about those questions.