Sunday, December 14, 2008

Std-Ex Editorial: Chief Greiner's Predicament

Dual legislative and law enforcement roles place Chief Greiner in a tight spot

The Standard-Examiner editorial board chimes in on the pending Jon Greiner Hatch Act matter this morning, predicting that the State Senator and Ogden Police Chief will prevail in his opposition to the complaint of the federal Office of Special Counsel, which seeks Greiner's removal from the office of Ogden Chief of Police:
The Hatch Act, enacted in 1939, oversees some political acts of state and local government officials. The OSC’s complaint claims that Greiner, as police chief, was responsible for managing and administrating four federal grants while competing for and winning the Senate District 18 seat.
In our opinion, the OSC charge is not accurate. We think Greiner has acted specifically within the law because Ogden city’s chief administrative officer, John Patterson, says he signs off on the federal grants received by the city’s police department.
We believe the Std-Ex is likely correct in its fact analysis and conclusions. In point of fact, it's apparent to us that Chief Greiner and Ogden City have devised a cautious Hatch Act Compliance Program, shielding Greiner from any acts which could be deemed "managing and administrating four federal grants."

Whether the Std-Ex is aware of it or not, there is also judicial precedent in this matter. In 2004, Henderson, Nevada Assistant Chief of Police and Nevada Assemblyman Richard Perkins was served a similar Office of Special Council complaint, under facts nearly identical to those in the Greiner case. The matter was adjudicated by Merit Systems Protection Board administrative law judge William G. Kocol in favor of Perkins. The Las Vegas Review Journal has a good September 14, 2005 writeup concerning that decision:
Judge rules Perkins didn't break federal law
As a matter of fact, we interviewed Chief Greiner in 2006, during the General Election ramp-up. Greiner informed us at that time that Ogden's Hatch Act Compliance program had been carefully modeled after the Henderson, Nevada program.

We'll thus cautiously join with the Std-Ex in our own prediction that Mr. Greiner will likely prevail in the pending action before the next Merit Systems Protection Board administrative law judge.. with this caveat: The decision of Judge Kocal isn't necessarily binding in a subsequent matter before any other MSPB judge, even in a case with nearly identical facts. The two cases ARE slightly distinguishable on the facts, by the way. Whereas Perkins had been the Henderson City Assistant Chief, who served as "acting chief" only from time to time, Greiner is the full time Chief of Police of Ogden City. Moreover, although the previously decided Perkins case provides precedent, we do not believe it provides binding legal precedent. Unhappily for Chief Greiner, we suspect a decision in his pending action depends as much upon the disposition of the sitting administrative law judge as the underlying facts and law in the matter.

Having said all this, we'll remind our readers that other issues have arisen with respect to this matter. The Std-Ex raises this objection to the duality ofGreiner's legislative and law enforcement management roles:
Ironically, the OSC complaint cannot force Greiner to give up his state senate seat. Even if he did so, it would not resolve the OSC action. Nevertheless, Greiner should reconsider his state senate duties, since they are restricting his ability, as Ogden police chief, to have a say on federal funds for his officers.
We want Greiner involved in all important duties as Ogden’s chief law enforcement officer.
And there remain still other and further issues. Potential conflict of interest, anyone? And what about the retirement double dipping issue? We know it's technically lawful... but is it right? And what about the argument that these Hatch Act restrictions, if rigorously applied, infringe upon Greiner's fundamental constitutional rights? Then there's the peripheral question of who exactly picks up Greiner's legal fees, whether or not Greiner prevails. Interestingly, in the Perkins case, it was Chief/Assemblyman Perkins himself (not the Office of Special Counsel OR the taxpayers of Henderson City) who eventually got stuck with the tab.

We think The Std-Ex's Calvin Grondal gets it mainly right. Right or wrong, Chief Greiner remains in a tight spot. It's a practical... as much as a legal problem, we think.

The WCF discussion floor is open. Don't let the cat get your tongues.

19 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

This makes the second good SE editorial in a row. [Yesterday's on the Huntsman budget was not half bad either.] Could it be President Elect Obama's victory has inspired even the SE editorial board to attempt uncharacteristic feats of reason and common sense?

Dare we hope?

RudiZink said...

Doug Gibson and the Std-Ex Editorial board are DEFINITELY on a roll!

disgusted said...

the city may have reassigned the management of the contract itself to patterson but it seems to me that the actual administration of the contract within the department would still have to be done by the acting police chief.

if greiner is found guilty and a fine is leveled against him i feel that he should be personally responsible for the fine and not the resident of ogden. after all he is the one who is receiving the financial compensation for having taken on both positions. if he is truely motivated by a desire to provide civic service rather than being motivated by the additional money generated by both positions then he shouldnt mind forgoing the money or in this case paying the fine. of course that is if he is truely doing this out of a desire to perform civic duty and not out of a desire for personal gain. and if it is for personal gain then the fine should be his anyway as it is he who put himself in the compromised position not the residents.

barff said...

Oh, but the City mainly Godfrey and Co are the real ones benefiting from have their puppet and chief serve in the state senate.
I have personally seen Greiner and the A team in action. It's blatant, and sickening to watch how they plot and scheme to have the Senator do their bidding, while hold Greiners sweet deal retire and still hold the postition of chief over his head.

disgusted said...

barff
differ with you suggestion that godfreys holding the chiefs current position and retirement over his head. he is already collecting two retirements and it has been suggested that he also married into money. this man is financially better off than most of the poster on this web without his current job and as for his retirement there is no way that godfrey could interfer with something that is already in place.
no one in his financial position lets anyone hold anything over their head unless they are on board with what the agenda is.

OgdenLover said...

While the law seems to say otherwise, I agree with Disgusted that if a fine were levied, Greiner should be the one paying it, although I'm sure the citizens would foot the bill. This is similar to Janet Jackson's Superbowl fine. It was her breast so unless CBS knew about the incident ahead of time, why shouldn't she be the one fined?

According to current logic, if I worked in Rudi's house and committed a crime there, he should be held accountable and I should get a free pass.

Jason W. said...

This "editorial" and its accompanying praise is shameful; Chief Greiner was told long ago his candidacy violated the Hatch Act. He chose to ignore it; now the chickens are coming home to roost. He was warned not to run. He did anyway. I call bullshit on the sophomoric conjecture that Fatboy will be absolved because he had asshole elf Patterson sign his papers. We will owe $215K because of hubris, Little Matty's or that boiler guy. Then write an editorial, Lee Carter, you goddamn Gondola Freak.

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Jason W. said...
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danny said...

I agree with everyone here except for Curm and Rudi, that latter of whom I have to assume is simply baiting us with his position.

Let's look at this quote again from the typically vacuous SE editorial.

"In our opinion, the OSC charge is not accurate. We think Greiner has acted specifically within the law because Ogden city’s chief administrative officer, John Patterson, says he signs off on the federal grants received by the city’s police department. Nevertheless, Greiner should reconsider his state senate duties, since they are restricting his ability, as Ogden police chief, to have a say on federal funds for his officers.
We want Greiner involved in all important duties as Ogden’s chief law enforcement officer."

Oh now you GOTTA BE KIDDING!!!

Like Greiner ISN'T running the show, including the grant money??? Like having Patterson "sign off" means anything? This is pure Godfreyism - i.e. a transparently fraudulent scheme to circumvent something Godfrey and his underlings don't like.

Thankfully the Feds will see through this sham, and impose the fines that the law requires. And Greiner should pay them. He did the crime, now he should pay the fine.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

The part of the editorial I liked in particular was the part pointing out that, whether Greiner violated a provision of the Hatch act or not, he should not have run for the Senate post because Ogden does not need a part time police chief, and a part time police chief is what we got when Greiner became a senator. The SE editorial was exactly right in pointing out that Greiner's reassigning some of his responsibilities to Paterson in order to squirm past the Hatch Act is proof beyond arguing that he's not doing all he was hired to do, and is therefor only a part-time chief of police.

As for his violating the Hatch Act: I don't know if he'll win on appeal or not. Probably should. It seems a very close call to me. [Note that it took the Justice Department two years to decide, finally, that he had violated the act. If it was that close a call for the JD, hard to argue, seems to me, that the violation was and should have been obvious from the beginning.]

As for the fine, if there is one: it's the city's to pay. Godfrey kept Greiner on after he was elected to the Senate and after he was notified, by the JD initially, that Greiner was in violation of the Hatch Act. It's the city's bill if it has to be paid. It resulted from Hizzonah's decision to keep his pet police chief and state senator on staff even after he, the Mayor, became aware of the Hatch Act problem.

[I can understand why Hizzonah thought it important to keep Greiner on as Police Chief. After all, next time Hizzonah gets the urge to play Junior G-man and to follow a city empolyee's wife around downtown and phones in the license of the car she's driving to find out who her husband is, who's he gonna call if Greiner's not there?]

touche said...

Very nice post Curm. I agree with you 100%

disgusted said...

curm
your logic for your argument as for why we the residents of ogden should pay for geiners actions should they be deemed illegal is nuts.
geiner put himself in the potentially compromised position not godfrey or the residents of ogden. only greiner did that and if there is financial gain i.e. salary or loss i.e. fine to be had for those actions then it squarely belongs to geiner.

Curmudgeon said...

Disgusted:

Sorry, D., but we disagree. Chief Greiner works for the city at the Mayor's pleasure, and only so long as the Mayor chooses to retain him. When Greiner announced he was running for the Senate, the Mayor retained him in office. When the Justice Department indicated that Greiner could not be both police chief of Ogden City and a state Senator under the Hatch Act, the Mayor still retained him in office. The law apparently provides for a fine to the city [if Greiner loses his appeal and keeps both offices], and properly so. The people of Ogden elected Godfrey mayor, and so the city is responsible for the financial consequences of the decisions he makes in his capacity as mayor, one of which was to keep Greiner on staff after he ran for the senate and won.

disgusted said...

curm
who is responsible for greiners decision to run for the senate seat. greiner or godfrey.

Curmudgeon said...

disgusted:

Greiner was perfectly free to run for the seat. It was his right as a citizen and resident of the district. The relevant question is, who choose to keep him on as Police Chief when he won the senate seat and when the Hatch Act problem became known? The duly elected Mayor of Ogden did. And so the financial consequences of that decision, if any, fall to the City to deal with.

no one cares said...

It is so interesting that, When Rep. Hansen worked for the city and {he was not in management}, How he had to choose between working to the city or for the state and It looked like he put the taxpayers first. not himself. So as for griener he put himself first and then the taxpayer, who will now have to pay this fine. Way to go greiner. I wish you would not be so selfish with how you run things.

alice said...
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alyysa said...
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stella said...
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