Today’s “You Can’t Fix Stupid” award goes to members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who – due to their collective desire to keep the public out of the selection process for a new chief of police – have stepped in major doo-doo.
Media reports ferreted out what the supervisors declined to acknowledge (if they even knew) – that the new police chief, when an officer in Prince George’s County, had a couple of incidents on his record that led to payouts to the public.
The real issue here is not the specific incidents (although they certainly are worthy of serious scrutiny), but why either the new chief, or the supervisors, thought they could get away with not disclosing them to the community. To paraphrase Howard Baker: Who knew what, and when, and who decided to cover it up?
A statement by the Fairfax County NAACP and ACLU People Power Fairfax summed it up succinctly: “We are confident that the ‘surprise’ revelations could have been avoided if the community members had been privy to who was under consideration.”
As this is being typed, the new chief and the supervisors appear trying to bull through and ride out this tempest. We’ll see if that works. Regardless, it makes the Fairfax supervisors, who like to portray themselves one step above the typical local-government officials across the region, seem somewhere between obtuse and shady.
AND BY THE WAY: You think this would be a lesson in neighboring Arlington, where the county manager is getting ready to pick a police chief and where, like Fairfax, groups, like the NAACP, have been warning that the lack of public participation and vetting could be a ticking time bomb.
Arlington officials, like those in Fairfax, will proclaim that they’ve done a copious amount of community outreach. It’s mostly a sham, but it makes for a good press release.
SAY HEY! Happy 90th birthday today to Willie Mays, one of the greats of all time.
- Scott McCaffrey