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Deceive the public, but don’t dare mislead city manager

Post by Kim Bradford on May 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm with 5 Comments »
May 1, 2011 2:54 pm

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson says he intends his reprimand of the police chief to underscore the importance of being forthright.

He should forgive many Tacomans for inferring an entirely different message: Public deception is excusable; making the boss look bad is not.

Anderson initially found no fault with Chief Don Ramsdell for covering up the real reason it took the police department 12 hours to issue an Amber Alert after the abduction of 12-year-old Zina Linnik.

Quite the contrary. The city manager ardently defended Ramsdell, insisting the public wasn’t misled when police officials attributed the delay to necessary police work rather than confess that the officer asked to issue the alert fell asleep.

That was until Friday, when the city manager stopped making excuses for the chief.

Anderson instead charged Ramsdell with failure to meet expectations after The News Tribune’s records request revealed that the person responsible for Amber Alerts – police spokesman Mark Fulghum – was not off duty as Anderson had claimed.

“The chief knew or should have known” that Fulghum was on call the morning after Zina’s abduction, Anderson said. That Ramsdell didn’t share that information was “unacceptable.”

What changed? Anderson says he has a two-strikes policy with his department directors, and the chief made one mistake too many.

Perhaps it was the pattern that made the crime. But the about-face from apologist to disciplinarian smacks of a city leader who was far more comfortable being privy to a deceit than being misled himself.

Anderson says he learned about Fulghum’s failure to issue the Amber Alert in 2009. By the time the public discovered the lapse – by way of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Zina’s family and questioning by this newspaper’s reporters – the city manager had long known the truth.

Not so the information about Fulghum’s paid status. Anderson says he assumed the officer was off duty, and Ramsdell never corrected him. In the end, the release of Fulghum’s timecard gave the lie to not only Anderson’s characterization but also his assurances that the officer’s error warranted no further review.

Fulghum now faces – in addition to a heap of humiliation – an internal affairs investigation into whether he violated department policy by taking an over-the-counter sleep aid while he was on call.

His boss, Chief Ramsdell, has a letter of reprimand citing “a breach of trust” – Anderson didn’t specify whose trust – and can look forward to an independent review of his department’s handling of Zina’s horrific murder.

As for the city manager himself, when asked whether he would do anything differently – such as initiating a review of the police department’s cover story when he learned of it two years ago – Anderson admits no failings.

That’s alarming. Someone who doesn’t own their mistakes is bound to repeat them.

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Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Lying at every level of government and business is shredding the fabric of trust in our society. It has been going on long enough that ordinary people expect nothing but lies and deception from public figures. There is no longer any expectation, in my mind, of honesty at any level. Commerce and corporate America is a joke when it comes to being honest; big corporations and insurance companies are chiselers of epic proportion, and everyone knows that going in.

    The only antidote is to have either enough money to force someone to be honest, ie. Sue them; or be able to shame someone and, like in this case, make a PR example of someone. Police and the Justice department are suspect as well; police cover-ups like this one, and episodes of prosecutorial misconduct abound.

    If one is surprised by lying officialdom, then one is naive in the extreme.

  2. humble1 says:

    Pssst Kim, this story was broke a few articles ago…

  3. thurber says:

    Flip-flop-flip. The chain newspaper positively cleared everybody last week.

    This is just like David Brame all over again. The newspaper (David Seago) supported him to almost the very end.

    Why is the ediitorial board only listening to one side? Are they so against the victim’s family so as not to met with them?

    Flip-flop-flip. The chain newpaper will be supporting Anderson again in no time. The good old boys together again.

  4. Have they named the officer that is under investigation for DUI in TPD right now? Is there a way for the Tacoma News Tribune to access that information? Was Fulghum drug or alcohol tested after failing to be available when he was working(he gets paid to be “on-call”, just like a doctor or anybody else). Just another corrupt department, from the top down. Where is RICO when you need it? :)

  5. olympicmtn says:

    Pattern of Tacoma Police Department lies and cover-up by Tribune

    Brame and cover-up protection by David Seago, Mayor Baarsma, Ray Corpuz.

    Now the Tribune post an article claiming Julie Anderson did not know (sudden memory loss eh?)

    I recall the Tribune protecting JULIE ANDERSON whose first spouse David Alred City of Tacoma Police Officer tore down Susan Frutz door and kept her at gun point tied her up and then said “Never mind.” This was the case that cost the City of Tacoma millions from a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the judge even said” :“Surely, the citizens of Tacoma would not want to be treated in their own homes the way the jury found officers Stril, Morris and Alred treated Frunz and her guests,” Kozinski wrote. “A prompt payment of the verdict, accompanied by a letter of apology from the city fathers and mothers, might have been a more appropriate response to the jury’s collective wisdom.”

    The jury award, which the city must pay, included punitive damages against all three officers.

    And yet why did JULIE ANDERSON as a City Council Member protect her ex-husband and not that of a lawful citizen going into her own home?

    All the council members are culpable and all of a sudden they now have a MEMORY LOSS.


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