Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Straub Fired As Spokane Police Chief

UPDATED: The controversial leadership style Frank Straub earned as Indianapolis' Public Safety Director followed him to his new job as police chief for Spokane, Washington. Mayor David Condon (D) fired Straub today after his controversial tenure in Spokane began weighing down his re-election bid this fall. In the end, it was his relationship with a female member of his staff, in part, that sent him over the edge according to the Spokesman Review.
. . . Mayor David Condon asked for Straub’s resignation amid complaints about Straub’s leadership style and personnel moves involving two women who were transferred out of the police department . . .
And earlier this year the City of Spokane transferred Monique Cotton from her job as police spokeswoman to a higher-paying job with the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department. Yet her $90,000 salary continues to be paid from the police budget.
City Council members raised questions about the transfer, but Condon’s chief of staff, City Administrator Theresa Sanders, said Cotton’s skills were needed at the park department to “tell the story” of Riverfront Park, which is about to undergo a vast transformation after voters approved a parks bond last year.
Sanders said last month that Cotton’s $9,000 salary increase was an “enticement” to persuade her to change jobs.
However, city officials first attempted to move Cotton to the Spokane Fire Department, an effort rebuffed by fire officials.
Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said city administration officials approached him in April about transferring Cotton.
“The discussion of creating a public safety (public information officer) position and assigning Cotton in there was discussed,” Schaeffer said in an email. “We did have a meeting and decided that we would prefer to do recruitment for someone that was better fitted for fire.”
Cotton, who was hired by Straub in 2013 to lead the department’s communications and marketing strategy, was not the first to be moved while still getting a check from police.
Carly Cortright was paid her annual salary of $82,494 by the police department for 15 months after leaving her position as the police business services director in October 2013 to work as the director of the 311 project, a customer service program under the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Cortright said she was pleased with the transfer because of Straub’s “constant negative feedback and belittling.”
“I left SPD because I was offered an opportunity to be part of a project that could make a real difference in the community,” Cortright said. “I was no longer making that difference at the SPD due to the constant negative feedback and belittling I was receiving from Chief Straub.”
Since Cotton’s transfer was reported, the move has been raised as a campaign issue by Shar Lichty, who is challenging Condon in his bid for re-election . . . 
The Spokesman Review tiptoed around the rumor mill over Straub's alleged relationship with Cotton, which people speculated had led to her transfer out of the police department. Monique Cotton has responded to social media comments regarding the rumors as untrue and libelous. Her husband, a local TV station sales manager, also stated the break-up of their marriage had nothing to do with Straub.

Rumors had circulated about inappropriate relationships with female staff members he supervised while he was employed as Indianapolis' Public Safety Director. Shortly after Straub was forced out of his job here, he and Amber Myers, director of Animal Care & Control, announced their engagement to be married. Myers, who later resigned her city job and moved to Spokane to wed Straub, claimed she and Straub didn't become romantically involved until after he announced his resignation. Other people doubted Myers' claims. Straub had elevated Myers to her role as Animal Care & Control director. Myers, an attorney, now works as an administrative law judge for Spokane's Office of Administrative Hearings.

Straub's short tenure in Spokane was marked by constant turmoil and turnover in his command staff much like occurred during his tenure in Indianapolis. Police complained about emotional outbursts and profanity-laced, heated exchanges. While Straub's termination as police chief is effective immediately, he is being reassigned to another job that will last until January 1.

A local Spokane TV station, KXLY, attributes Cotton's departure to Straub's "abrasive leadership style" and provides a laundry list of complaints senior police staff had against him:
The coup de grace on Straub's tenure was fired by his own command staff, which, in a report signed by Assistant Chiefs Rick Dobrow and Selby Smith, focused on his leadership style and a series of shortcomings which included:
  • Unreasonable emotional outbursts
  • Personal attacks 
  • Threats regarding employment and position 
  • Scare tactics 
  • Retaliation 
  • Degradation of character 
  • Demeaning, condescending treatment 
  • Profane and highly inappropriate language
Prior to the command staff's letter, the Police Captains and Lieutenants Association also complained about the chief's abrasive leadership which allegedly included profanity-laced screaming at subordinates.
Additionally, the recent departure of the department's public information officer, Monique Cotton, is related to the chief's abrasive leadership style, according to KXLY sources.


Sir Hailstone said...

That a-hole just can't keep it in his pants, can he??

Paul K. Ogden said...

What blows my mind is that high level people can get job after job, despite a checkered job history that is easily discovered with a routine internet search. When Straub got the job I joked that Spokane must not have Google yet because they didn't seem to know about his troubled employment history in Indy and White Plains.

It's the same with the John Clark who ran the Indy airport and IPS chief Eugene White. Both had major problems, yet had no problem getting the Indy jobs and ones after they were pushed out the door.

These government entities do more investigation to hire a janitor than they do a police chief, a school superintendent, the head of an airport, etc.

Gary R. Welsh said...

In Straub's case, he has some powerful people in national law enforcement vouching for him when he applies for a job, which includes the FBI. That carries a lot of weight. There is an assumption that there is institutional resistance within police departments to change, which is the real source of a chief's problems. It turned out that the controversial Regional Operations Center, which Straub was forced to defend, was not of his making at all; rather, it was forced on him by Mayor Ballard for political reasons. The complaints about Straub's management style here seem to be validated by the folks in Spokane.

Anonymous said...

The damage he did in Indianapolis will take years to fix. He ruined careers and promoted buffoons. Let's hope his deconstruction of Police Departments has come to an end.

Anonymous said...

How many on this blog could have predicted this. I guessed three years. I wonder what his wife, Amber has to say about these things. A zebra doesn't change its stripes. She was just one of his conquests.

This man has such a poor self image that he has to make up for it by bring others down to his self perceived level. Inside every narcissist is a scared little boy. The current negative climate of IMPD still goes back to his influence.

Given his career path, NYPD, White Plains, Indy, Spokane, can Kokomo or Greenfield be his next stop?

Anonymous said...

The answer to these oddities is likely corruption. High placed recommendations combined with an otherwise inferior candidate who's on the lam generically makes for someone easily controlled or reliably providing distraction from other activities.

Anonymous said...

Eugene White brings to mind Dr. Dexter Suggs, a black fraud hired by IPS, on the basis of phony dissertation....in my experience with Black Doctorates in Education there is probably a LOT of that. It is to the credit of Indiana Wesleyan University that they revoked his Doctorate. But, IPS doesn't appear to be going after the refunds due them. Nor has IWU punished the laxity by which their diploma mill hands out credentials with little to no examination. I am not sure that Eugene White hired this particular Black fraud but there doe seem to be some or a lot of that Black hiring Blacks going on and without too much regard for performance or ability. Reminds of my school board days when some Michigan burg came down looking for a Black Superintendent of Schools on the belief that was what they needed. I was very relieved to not be asked for my opinion of the performance of our Black Superintendent. He left a cozy job to take on their challenge but did not last long...meaning only that he had drank of the Black kool aid.

Anonymous said...

Does not say much for Ballard's discernment of talent....a problem with those having little of such....beginning to think this applies to Mike Pence. Can anyone name an administrator he has appointed that is doing a stellar job? By taking on all of the Mitch retreads he exposed himself as someone who didn't know people in Indiana or elsewhere capable of performance, e.g. Mitch's guys did fix the license branch lines and procedures.

Anonymous said...

That a-hole East Coast style doesn't work much west of Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

Abnormally low to no air traffic today which is not explained by a pope visit to the east coast. Anyone notice?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Straub find his way here as because of a recommendation of Stephen goldsmith?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:41 - This may come as a shock, but some of us have better things to do than sit around and count airplanes. Do you work for the city or the state? Atmospheric conditions don't favor the formation of contrails today. Maybe that's it ;)

Anonymous said...

Recommended by Debby Daniels, too!
Straub's management will affect Indianapolis for years and years, and Millions and Millions of dollars,.... Good call Mayor Marine!