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

November 22, 2011 10:56:00 AM



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.