The Brainerd Police Department has been without a chief long enough.
That's why Monday night's 6-1 vote to expedite the arrival of Mora Chief John Bolduc was a smart decision. Chief Frank Ball left for a job with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety more than nine months ago. Brainerd's acting chief, Capt. Lyman Dahl, has filled in admirably in a difficult situation, but the department will benefit greatly from the type of long-range planning and stability that only a permanent chief can bring.
Plans now call for Bolduc to assume control of the department on May 15. An earlier council motion called for his hiring pending the outcome of legal issues including police chief candidate Sgt. Becky Putzke's claim the selection committee illegally closed its meetings on two occasions.
Putzke has every right to pursue legal challenges to the selection process if she feels it was improper. While the committee could be penalized by the courts if it acted improperly, it's doubtful that a judge would overturn its choice for a new chief.
Once a hiring decision is made the employer can't keep the new employee hanging in limbo. Legal challenges can linger on an awful long time. (See earlier Brainerd Dispatch stories regarding mandatory fluoridation or the Brainerd International Trade Centre.)
The new chief is coming into this situation with his eyes wide open. Fortunately, good law officers are professionals who can disagree on certain issues but still work together for the public safety.
It's time for Brainerd to welcome its new chief while still responding to the related legal issues. It's time to move forward.
Televising Brainerd's city council meetings is a positive move
The Brainerd City Council also deserves a pat on the back for its decision to spend $22,000 on equipment to televise its city council meetings.
Sure it might not be riveting entertainment to watch a discussion on street improvements in northeast Brainerd or zoning issues, but it will bring city government closer to those people who want to find out what's going on. And there are times when certain issues might lead to drama that's more entertaining than what the networks or cable channels have to offer these days.
Just as C-Span has brought Congress into the nation's living rooms, so can televised council meetings get more people involved in their government.
In fact, we hope most of the region's major governmental bodies, such as Baxter City Council, Brainerd School Board and the Crow Wing County Board, will someday follow suit.
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