At Week’s End – November 4, 2011

NEWSFLASH!!!! – The Real Story has been called to the principal’s office!!!

That’s right. At the end of Monday’s Water Cooler Talk, I signed it the “Bad Guy”, and I guess I must be! Or at least Coach Smith thinks so, because on Wednesday morning a city official emailed me to report to the principal’s office:

Joe – The Mayor has received your request concerning the above [a request to obtain media and data information] and has directed me to advise that, if you are to be included on our media notification list, you must appear at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Mayor and City Council and present this request to them for their consideration. Please let Velma or me know if and when you would like to be placed on our ‘Citizens Input Agenda’ to do so. Thanks.”

This came as a surprise. I had hand-delivered the following letter to the Mayor’s Office on October 27, 2011:

The Office of Mayor and City Council
Columbus, Mississippi
523 Main Street
Columbus, MS 39701

Gentlemen,

The Real Story Publishing Incorporated, a Mississippi C corporation, has been registered and established to publish fair and accurate information to the citizens of our community. With that mission, we dedicate ourselves to seeking reliable and honest disclosure via our blog site and printed newspaper about community issues, politics, life enriching information, sports and entertaining stories that will truly inform and vitalize our citizenry to make Columbus a better place to live and visit. Our past association forces me to believe that this objective is also a goal yours, and thus we have a common objective.

With this common objective, The Real Story hereby respectfully requests that you include the notification to our media outlet editors of any data and information that you provide to the other media outlets in our community such as The Commercial Dispatch, The Columbus Packet, and voice media such as radio/TV stations. Please also include the notifications for public meetings and other information whereby you wish to notify the public about special events. You may send the information to any of the following: The Real Story, P.O. Box 403, Columbus 39701: www.realstorypublishing.com: stjohnjb@realstorypublishing.com: Tel: 662-497-2914. We solicit your collaboration.

Thank you for your service to our community. We anticipate a long and friendly association and a mutually prosperous community wherein we live.

Yours respectfully,

Joseph St John, President
The Real Story Publishing, Inc.

cc: David Armstrong, Chief Operations Officer
Jeff Turnage, City Attorney
Selvain McQueen, Interim Chief of Police

On October 27, 2011, I had been emailed a copy of the agenda for the November 1, 2011, City Council Meeting from the Mayor’s office. Apparently, something happened after that because Coach Smith later rescinded the order to send me any media alerts!

Yes, I have been called to the principal’s office in order to explain, beg or plead that I indeed represent a legitimate official media outlet. After several email exchanges with City Hall I can now confirm that I will be heading to the “Golden Throne of Judgment of All Things Media” on November 15, 2011. Everyone is welcome to attend. This meeting is open to the public and free of charge!

After reviewing the emails with my staff, we can see several red flags.

Is there going to be a special call meeting between now and November 15 to deal with the search process for Chief of Police? Candidates and Search Committee members are dropping out at an alarming rate. The Commercial Dispatch has run three Animal House inspired editorials assuring readers that “All is Well” while chaos reigns supreme. Would my presence at such a meeting make the climate uncomfortable?

Has the criticism I voiced hit too close to home? Is this to be my punishment? Will I no longer get to “play in all the reindeer/media games?”

Who can be sure? More importantly, who cares? With or without the formal notifications, I will continue to write, tell the truth and deliver hard-hitting news to you. Although The Real Story had no access to the search-for-a-chief committee meetings, we were the ones who exposed the process for the sham that it is and made the other media outlets admit the game was rigged in favor of the interim chief. We smelled the mess that was cooking, and we know it is still a mess, although many members of the committee, the City and the media still try to paint a gloss on this disaster! 

I must advise anyone involved or watching the meeting on November 15, 2011, to be aware that I will not discuss the content of our publication. We are still in America, and the media do not, should not and I certainly will not kowtow to the Government for favors, whether they are real or imagined. I have been summoned to the principal’s office after I had already been given approval and sent my notifications. Now that they have backtracked, the questions become simple:

Is the Government of Columbus going to honor my legitimate request to receive media notifications?

Is the Government of Columbus going to honor my City Business License confirming that Real Story Publications is a newspaper?

Or, Is the Government of Columbus going to censor our media if it doesn’t like what it sees and try to ignore the First Amendment rights?

These are the only three questions that matter. They will be answered when I go to the principal’s office!

Joseph B. St. John

A/K/A “The Bad Guy”

Notes: The Chief search only gets crazier. Here is an excerpt from a letter written by one of the applicants who did not make the cut for chief:

Dear Ms. Mitchell,

As per our conversation of 24 October, I am requesting that my application for Chief of Police of the Columbus Police Department be reconsidered, and I be allowed to participate in the interview process by the City Council. I am enclosing a copy of my resume and cover letter for your convenience.

In our conversation you stated that you, Mayor Smith, and Mr. Armstrong did not feel that my military leadership experience met the qualifications required by the job description. You felt that I did not adequately emphasis in my resume or cover letter how military command responsibilities are identical to those of law enforcement commanders. You did, however, allow me the opportunity to submit a letter explaining why I feel that I am very qualified for the position. I thank you for that opportunity. In this letter I hope to show you that everything I did in my command positions in the military was the same as if I had been in a law enforcement organization. I also hope to show that my experiences have a greater scope and depth than the candidates that were selected.

The first point to emphasis is that both military units and police departments are designed to be commanded by a person within that organization who is also held accountable to the civilian leadership they serve. The highest ranking military general is still responsible to the President of the United States. The Chief of Police in Columbus is responsible for the organizing, training, equipping, and daily operations of the department, but also must be responsive to the City Council. Both must work within a structure that does not allow them complete authority to do whatever they want. They must be able to accomplish their missions within the framework established by their respective civilian authority.

Organizational charts for both show the same chain of command. At the top of the chart is the commander in the military, and the Chief in law enforcement. The chart then flows down to the departments under them, usually containing Operations, Support, and Administrative. This type of command lets the commander delegate responsibility to subordinates, while maintaining responsibility for the actions of everyone. It allows the commander to focus on the planning for overall accomplishment of the unit’s mission, while letting the subordinate units concentrate on the execution of that mission. The only difference between the military and law enforcement is what goal they are trying to accomplish, and on what scale.

A look at the ultimate goals for each organization shows that they are identical, and my actions in the military were no different from those of a police officer. The military is designed to be an extension of civilian policy “by other means.” They must be prepared to enforce the policies of the civilian government, sometimes through the use of violent means. Police officers are required to enforce the laws of the community they serve, and like the military, are authorized to use force to do so. Also, like the military, they are required to go through extensive training to know when force is authorized, and how to use it responsibly. Commanders in both organizations bear the responsibility of ensuring the public is kept safe through the proper application of force, and proper and equal enforcement of the law. I was used by the President of the United States to enforce international law with the goal of safeguarding the rights and freedom of Americans worldwide. By definition, a police force is a “paramilitary” organization, and except in times of war, a military is used for “Police Actions.” While in the military I was performing law enforcement on the largest scale possible.

Training received by military and law enforcement personnel is almost identical. Each takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, each must undergo rigorous specialized training, and each is required to continue to enhance their abilities through annual refresher training and selective additional training. They must also demonstrate their capabilities each year, and undergo testing to receive promotions. Both must learn to move and work as a team, wear a uniform properly, obey lawful orders, work within their chain of command, and maintain a standard of personal conduct that is far above what is required for just about any other occupation. As a professional, in the area of personal accountability and actions, there is no difference between the two except the uniform they wear, and the level of authority they answer to.

You stated that you wanted someone with ideas from outside the organization. My personal experience involves working on the international and federal level with the DEA, US Customs, ICE, the BATF, and the NSA. I worked on a state level with the North Dakota Highway Patrol. and now I work on the municipal level with the Columbus Police Department. As outlined in my resume, I have worked with foreign military units, federal, state, county, and local law enforcement units. I have helped minority students in high risk areas improve their chances for a better future by providing counseling on how to get scholarships and jobs. I have a proven record of performing under stress. I have successfully managed large budgets. And I have a long history of sound leadership at all levels, including levels that would be considered on par with the Chief of Police position.

I have one advantage over many of the candidates that I have not seen in the biographies of the other candidates. I have leadership training that most police officers don’t receive, and an effective Chief must know how to adapt his leadership style for each individual officer. The Air Force starts training their officers to be leaders from the moment they enter training. I attended the Air Force Academy where we practiced leadership even as students. The school was set up with cadets being responsible for the daily operation of the cadet wing. Every promotion I received required me to go to a leadership school for that level of command. Management skills were also taught, and the end product was a “well-rounded” officer that could lead under the stress of combat, and manage all aspects of daily operations. And as a Special Operations pilot my life, and those of my crew, depended on me being able to adapt to any situation, and come up with solutions that are not always found in the policy manual.

I believe that I have every quality and qualification that you said you wanted in a Chief, and I believe that I have a better overall “package” than the candidates that have been selected to interview. I request that you review my qualifications, and determine that my military experience is as valuable, if not more, than any experience that was gained by the other candidates. I request that I be considered for participation in the interview process where I could address any questions or misgivings any member of the council may have.

I did not include such a lengthy explanation in my resume or cover letter because it would have made for an excessively long and wordy resume. I felt that the selection committee would have people who would be able to clear up any misgivings someone might have. Finally, I felt that I would be able to personally address any misgivings the City Council may have during the interview. Since the selection committee did not receive my resume, they did not have an opportunity to weigh my military accomplishments against the accomplishments of the other candidates. I believe that if I am included in the interview process I will be able to convince you, and the other members of the council, that I am a very worthy candidate.

Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to your response to this letter.

Emphasis added by us by the way. More to the point, the candidate has received no response as of today and if this doesn’t scare you, it should: This one did not make the cut for the final 25!

Special Kudos to Ms. Cook who understands that the only way to get rid of a stinking fish is to cut bait!

JBS


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7 Comments on “At Week’s End – November 4, 2011”

  1. Ashen Says:

    If ONLY we could get that guy as the Police Chief. His accomplishments in the military alone I feel are a qualification enough. They “fixed” the requirements to let McQueen in. Why not do the same for this man?

    I still find that poll from the Commerical Dispatch sad from 10/13/11 on what is the best quality in a police chief…the “top choice” was “Strong religious faith. 29.2% (109)”. Explain to me how RELIGION makes a good police chief?! How in the HELL does religion catch crime? Sometimes I really wonder what the hell is wrong with people in this state….:/ Religion should never be the reason someone is hired/fired for/from a job. That is a PERSONAL choice and it should stay personal.

    Reply

  2. CRB Says:

    Sounds like it’s time to make a few phone calls … not to mention clearing our schedules for the next council meeting.

    Reply

  3. Street King Says:

    I can tell you that there are a lot of officers looking to go to other agencies. There are not many left there that really want to be there. As you can see by the front page of the Packet this week, they lost another lieutenant, and a good one. They’re are down to bare bones in terms of experience and leadership. I wouldn’t be suprised if there aren’t even more supervisors leave who have enough time in to retire. I know there are some who are checking with Jackson to see exactly what day they have to work to in order to qualify for retirement. It’s not a good situation at all at the CPD. When you’re having to swear in ex-chiefs and ex-investigators, that should be a huge red flag.

    Reply

  4. Street King Says:

    Wayne McLemore

    Reply

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