August 25, 2022
In a recent social media post, local watchdog group Pocatello For Accountable Government Entities describes what they call a “‘departure’ in practice” from the intent of Idaho Statutes in the recent hiring of a new CFO for the City of Pocatello. Their post appears below:
Pocatello, did you know . . .
the Mayor has circumvented an Idaho state statute in his 06/13/2022 hiring of the new CFO? He has not obtained Council “consent” confirming the appointment.
State law requires the CONSENT of the Council to appoint this position. Additionally, the Council has the authority to REFUSE to confirm appointments.
How do the Mayor (and the City Attorney) explain this “departure” in practice?
Semantics. They’re playing word games and have willfully manipulated the position to exclude the “Treasurer” title/responsibilities to bypass the Council. The Mayor claims he hired a CFO and not a “City Treasurer” and therefore the statute doesn’t apply. They claim the Council will decide later who the “City Treasurer” is. The facts are:
1. The position has always had a dual title. The City’s posted position description for Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer describes the singular position as “an appointed position RESPONSIBLE to the Mayor AND City Council.” And, it states: “With the joint responsibility as City Treasurer, the job manages programs and activities of city treasury operations and the investment portfolio.”
2. There aren’t two separate positions/FTE’s within the Finance Department’s budget to cover the two “responsibilities” or two titles because it’s always been one position. See the Finance FY23 Budget presentation org chart:
If it was the Mayor’s genuine intent to split the CFO and City Treasurer into two separate positions, then he would have added a new FTE to the Finance Department’s FY23 budget and update the organizational chart to reflect two separate positions. He didn’t do this – not even after hiring the current CFO.
3. The City’s own historic practice contradicts what the Mayor is now claiming. If there’s a difference between the two positions and a CFO isn’t a City Treasurer, they wouldn’t have had the Council “CONSENT” and appoint the last three CFO’s.
Look at the historic documents. This is clearly a departure from practice. The former “CFO”, Jim Krueger, was confirmed on 11/19/2020 for a start date of 01/18/21 – two months early BEFORE he started. The prior “CFO” was confirmed on 09/19/2019 for the position to be effective on 09/20/19. Before that, the “CFO” was named the interim CFO on 08/21/14 effective 08/30/14 and confirmed as permanent “CFO” on 11/20/2014 (effective 11/15/14).
50-204. APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS — OATH — BOND. The mayor, except as otherwise provided in sections 50-801 through 50-812, with the CONSENT OF THE COUNCIL, shall appoint a city clerk, a city treasurer, a city attorney and such other officers as may be deemed necessary for the efficient operation of the city.
50-205. REFUSAL TO CONFIRM APPOINTMENTS — VACANCIES. If the city council shall refuse to confirm any nomination, the mayor shall then within ten (10) days thereafter, nominate another person to fill the office and he may continue to nominate until his nominee is confirmed. If the mayor fails to make another nomination for the same office within ten (10) days after the rejection of a nominee, the city council shall appoint a suitable person to fill the office during the term. The affirmative vote of one half (1/2) plus one (1) of the members of the full council shall be required to confirm any nomination made by the mayor. Whenever a vacancy shall occur in an appointive office, the vacancy for the unexpired term shall be filled by appointment in the same manner as the original appointment.
The issue at hand isn’t the Mayor’s choice of candidate. The problem is that the Mayor has willfully CIRCUMVENTED THE STATUTORY PROCESS in order to exclude Council from its rightful oversight role and usurp its authority. He has once again demonstrated he doesn’t respect the system of checks and balances – the system of governance in place to protect citizens from an elected official from amassing too much power and acting as if king.
He also excludes the council’s involvement by not sharing resumes/applications for these appointed positions or allowing the council access to the interview process. This behavior is in stark contrast to how ethical, transparent leaders handle the statutory consent required in these appointments. Some leaders understand and respect that the Council’s “consent” isn’t just a formality.
Case in point. Caldwell City Council recently rejected their mayor’s Police Chief recommendation. These articles make it obvious these council members were allowed fair and necessary access to the candidate so they could fulfill their duty.