Article Comment 

Our View: What if we gave a party and no one came?




What if there were four guests invited to this party, and three of them had to travel long distances at their own expense? Not to run this analogy into the ground, but what if only one of the guests can be assured of having a good time at this party? 


We are down to four candidates in the search for a Columbus police chief. 


And unless some community agency or a group of concerned citizens offers to foot the bill for getting the out-of-state candidates here, we could be down to one. 


Interim Police Chief Selvain McQueen, who will only have to walk down the hall to his interview, will be at the party, regardless of who else shows. Talk about a home-field advantage. 


Meanwhile, Nathaniel Clark has about six-hour drive from Albany, Ga., or a more than $400 round-trip plane ticket. Curtis Brame of North Chicago, Ill., can get a plane ticket for about $550 or drive 12 hours. And Robert Spinks of Sequim, Wash., is looking at a cost of more than $625 for a plane ticket. It's the best part of a week's drive. 


The city, by law, can't pay their way to Columbus. 


And if one or all of the out-of-town competitors were to say "never mind" because of it, who could blame them? 


It's an investment of time and money for the possibility of getting a job in an unfamiliar city hundreds, (thousands for Spinks) of miles away from home. 


A paid trip at least means they don't lose anything by coming for an interview. Asking them to pay their own way, we stand to lose quality applicants. 


That would defeat the purpose of casting a wide net, and it puts us right back where we started. 


If we do end up starting this process over, we should learn from our missteps and engage a search firm to help. 


A group of even the most civic-minded community members can't do as thorough a job as paid professionals. 


A firm could conduct a comprehensive search and ask tough questions the council might shy away from in a public forum. More qualified candidates could participate without fear of their candidacy being publicized prematurely.  


Regardless the type of party we throw (or who throws it), we need to be gracious hosts. Thus far, we've been anything but.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment thom geiger commented at 11/22/2011 12:29:00 PM:

According to the calculator app on my phone, the total of the printed numbers is $1,575. Adding a little extra to account for the "more than" buffer, somewhere around $1750. Split among five people, $350 each. Could someone please double check my numbers? I'm getting old you know.
In our blue collar family, like others, money is an extremely limited resource, but this is important to me. I couldn't afford to pay the entire bill, but feeling that if I, as one of the most vocal critics of this entire process from the beginning, didn't do something, well that doesn't sit well with me. Split five ways, my figures show its around $350 per person. I'd make that sacrifice, now, today, just so I would get to see and hear what each of these people have to say, what they can offer us. We'd get to see and hear them IF the interviews were going to be carried out on TV and in public, as previous ones were.
I know the money isn't much and there are people who carry around ten times that amount in their pockets, but it's an effort by a working stiff to help keep things level on a titled table. Now, if only four more of the most vocal of us would pony up, we could get 'er done. How about it raider?


Article Comment kat commented at 11/22/2011 12:50:00 PM:

Every job that I have interviewed for over the years has paid my expenses when we got down to the last two or three candidates. It is a common practice in most large companies. I find it very low class and cheesy that the city of Columbus would not offer this to potential employees. Certainly with it being such an important position they can fund this!


Article Comment watcher commented at 11/22/2011 1:01:00 PM:

I am so disgusted by this article and the articles like it regarding this whole biased (I know I said the dirty word) process. What disgusts me is that the writer and most likely people like Birney Imes have already made up their minds for these other applicants. This whole process is a joke because no matter what, when it all comes down to the end it will be decided that it is best just to give the position to McQueen regardless of the fact that he is unqualified. Going back to the study that was conducted some years ago which recommended not getting a local person seems to continually be ignored in favor of finding a puppet or a lapdog like McQueen or Joe Johnson just to appease one section of the community. Another issue that really just tweeks me is the bias of the media. Now don't misunderstand because I recognize like most thinking adults that it is impossible to be unbiased, but what really chaps me is the fact that the media like Birney Imes and his ilk can't man up and admit it, but would rather out right lie and make the claim that the media is unbiased (I really mean the liberal media).


Article Comment commonsenseincolumbus commented at 11/22/2011 1:59:00 PM:

@watcher What article are you reading? The whole purpose of this article is to stress the importance of getting all of the candidates here. If the agenda is to ensure McQueen gets the job, why would the paper even run this? Come to think of it, why would the city even go through this big production. They don't have to, you know. Can you actually base your claims on any facts or is this just another baseless conspiracy theory. Sheesh.
Concerning the story, we are not talking about a lot of money here. Surely someone will step forward to get these candidates here.


Article Comment birney commented at 11/22/2011 2:11:00 PM:

Birney Imes replies: "watcher," Throughout this process I've been amazed by the number of people who know what I am thinking and are absolutely certain that the outcome of this search is a foregone conclusion. I think that is far from the case, though the way the search was handled offers ample reason to believe otherwise. This editorial makes the obvious point that the playing field is uneven if three candidates have to pay to play and one doesn't. I believe the process is compromised if all four candidates can’t come to Columbus for interviews. In the editorial we urge the city to be open to the idea of engaging a search firm if this process doesn't work out. Whether I've made up my mind or not is immaterial. The mayor and city council are who will make the decision.


Article Comment road king commented at 11/22/2011 3:17:00 PM:

Just my humble opinion but I feel the decision has been made. As a HR professional for 22+ years I know that when you lower quals (as I have been told has been done) on a position you do it for two main reasons: 1) The position is "hard-to-fill" with the current qualifications, and you will not be able to get a sound applicant pool. 2) You "tailor" the job for someone who does not have the higher qualifications needed for hiring consideration.....just sayin'


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/22/2011 4:01:00 PM:

Okay, lets see, the "interview" is a process by which a person or group of people ask questions of the individual or individuals seeking the job. Why does it have to be done in person? Currently, LEGAL COURTS allow people to TESTIFY by phone, parenting palns allow for parental BONDING through web cams, so why not do the interviews in one of THOSE manners?


Article Comment raider commented at 11/22/2011 4:05:00 PM:

Hey Thom, thanks for the invite. But let me say this about this process. This process was born out of the ideal that we need to let the public have a say in who we are hiring. That all sounds well and good but, you are almost always going to end up with a boondoggle. I bet the mayor really thought he had a great idea that would take the politics out of the hiring process and give the community a say in the process. There's only one problem, the detractors and political enemies will always find a way to sabotage and attack whatever process is used. I am of the mind that getting the public intimately involved in the hiring process is a recipe for disaster. It may work once or twice but over the long haul, it's a losing proposition. This public hiring process has probably tainted Columbus for a long time. I have to believe that many quality applicants will pass up opportunities to apply for jobs in Columbus once the gossip about this fiasco is passed around.

The city pays people to perform the human resource functions for the city. So, let them do their job. There should have never been any committee to come up with the best five candidates. Once HR determined all the candidates that was qualified according to the publish qualification standards, the city council and the mayor should have sat down and performed the duties of their offices. They could have come up with a final group of 5 before they began interviews. There would have been people that complained about that process but it would have been the same ones that are complaining now. You will never satisfy all the people.

However, we have already headed down this bumpy road and the question is how do we reach the end. I would suggest that we abandon the dumb ideal of having people come from all over the country for a sit down interview. Why not take advantage of technology and do video-conferencing. The mayor and CC would still be able to ask each candidate questions live and see the candidate respond. And, the interviews could be taped and played on television for the public's consumption. By using video-conferencing, you could level the playing field by also requiring that McQueen's interview be via video. Would that be an acceptable solution? How bout it Thom?

I have more that I want to say on this topic but I believe it would pollute the topic so, I will wait until later to address the subject.


Article Comment plutten commented at 11/22/2011 4:20:00 PM:



Article Comment kj commented at 11/22/2011 4:27:00 PM:

Sounds like an ideal project for kickstarter. I'd throw in a few bucks even though it's a little ridiculous that the city would have a policy like this in place.

Raider has pretty much nailed the problems with this process. It shouldn't have been a public process to begin with. The council is elected to hire and fire, there are firms who specialize in this type of search. Allowing the public to assassinate the character of applicants via the web is a guarantee that applicants of quality will walk away or not even apply. Because if they wanted to go through that they would just run for office someplace.

The City Council needs to grow a collective pair, declare this process a failure, approve new qualifications and hire a professional search firm. Announce a new chief when they've hired one and then explain to malcontents that they're welcome to join them on the next ballot.


Article Comment bob commented at 11/22/2011 4:38:00 PM:

I don't remember this being an issue when Chief Saint John and others from out of town were being interviewed a few years back. Can you please refresh my memory as to why. Also, you can go from Midway Airport in Chicago to Birmingham non -stop for $89 each way on a Wednesday. He could come in early in the morning on a non-stop and return later in the afternoon. The Ga candidates' ride would be cut by over 2 hours. A hotel or airport meeting room could be arranged for about $100. There are practical solutions to your dilemna. I'm sure it would be easier and cheaper for the WA candidate as well to go to B'ham vs. Columbus. The job interview can easily be done there.


Article Comment dude commented at 11/22/2011 5:11:00 PM:

I know that Raider and Birney are just thinking of what's best for the community (wow that almost made me barf), but we all know how so many like Birney and the Mayor have over the years have constantly reaffirmed their desire to put Joe Johnson in the position, even going to great lengths to run off J.D. Sanders. From what I understand from someone who has not only met but also looked at the qualifications of one of the applicants, it sounds to me like not only is this particular applicant more capable of clearly expressing himself but apparently his qualifications make McQueen look like he did not get out of elementary school.


Article Comment birney commented at 11/22/2011 5:38:00 PM:

Birney Imes replies: Excuse me, "dude," but what evidence have you that I supported Joe Johnson's candidacy or went to "great lengths" to run off J.D. Sanders? We're hiding behind pseudonyms, so we just make stuff up? Is that how it works? In the meantime, the question is, where do we go from here? What do we do if the four finalists don't all choose to participate? As other posters have said, involving the public is a good idea; to what degree and how is the question. In the process that produced Chief St. John, the other candidates were from relatively nearby, Atlanta, Jackson and here.


Article Comment thom geiger commented at 11/22/2011 6:05:00 PM:

I guess no one took my offer seriously. Strange. What better way to give the public a chance to be involved than to contribute to seeing that each candidate gets an equal opportunity to press the flesh and look the mayor and council in the eye?
Again, maybe one of the infrequent posters could check my math and verify that only four more contributions of $350 each would get the job done. The regulars seem to be having a problem with helping me out with the arithmetic.
What am I missing? A public press article about a problem and at least one citizen is willing to contribute to helping solve it. I would have thought that was a positive thing.


Article Comment devin golden commented at 11/22/2011 7:43:00 PM:

$350 x 5 equals $1750.


Article Comment thom geiger commented at 11/22/2011 8:15:00 PM:

My thanks to one of the younger gentler generation.


Article Comment raider commented at 11/22/2011 10:04:00 PM:

Thom, it's not that no one took your offer serious. I just felt it made more sense to use video at this point. As far as paying for the candidates to come to Columbus...NO, I will not pay for that. if they want the job, they will make the investment.


Article Comment thom geiger commented at 11/22/2011 10:25:00 PM:

Well, I thought I would give it a try. One down and twenty-three thousand plus possible donations to go with mine. We still only need four more at $350 apiece. Surely an old washed up wannabe political pretender isn't the only person in the city willing to try to help solve this problem?
Oh, and I'm all about technology or haven't you seen my signs? Still, I feel McQueen shouldn't have the advantage. His being the hometown favorite (and having two already admitted votes) doesn't pass the smell test. Yes, video conferencing sounds great, but I say we save money and level the field at the same time. I say we bar the mayor and council from any contact with McQueen until after the decision is made and take contributions to send McQueen to Texas, Oklahoma or somewhere out of state and let him use video conferencing for his interview, just like the other candidates. Buying one ticket beats buying three. How about that?


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