Oh, come on. You can’t fire a police chief and expect people to be satisfied with no explanation whatsoever.
The Hitchcock City Commission on Monday fired Police Chief Clay Kennelly “for job performance and loss of confidence.”
What was that about?
Obviously, with a split vote, there’s debate about whether the firing was justified.
The refusal to comment because of legal reasons is just a complete abdication of responsibility — elected officials have a responsibility to keep voters and taxpayers informed.
Of course it’s a legal problem if you get into the intimate details of a personnel file. But when a person holds a position of public trust, such as the position of police chief, questions about what led to a “loss of confidence” are completely fair.
And if elected representatives refuse to answer fair questions, how can you pretend to have accountability in government?
Left completely in the dark, residents of Hitchcock are going to wonder about the recent controversy over the proposed mass gathering ordinance, which would have required permits for large gatherings.
And, if that wasn’t what got Kennelly in trouble, Hitchcock residents might wonder about the proliferation of game rooms in the community. And they might wonder about the fact that the Hitchcock Police Department was not notified in advance when the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement officers conducted a raid aimed at curtailing illegal gambling.
Residents of Hitchcock deserve more of an explanation than they were given. If they don’t demand it, they are going to have to learn to live in the dark.
Kennelly was the second public official who has left office under less than clear circumstances within a month.
Barbara Derrick, the superintendent of the Hitchcock school district, departed mysteriously with a settlement of $120,000.
The school board approved the agreement, but no one said why Derrick left. The only explanation the public got was a statement that said Derrick’s employment situation was “resolved to all parties’ mutual satisfaction.”
At a glance
The Hitchcock City Commission voted, 3-2, to fire Police Chief Clay Kennelly.
FOR: Lee Sander, Fard Abdullah and Glen Manis
AGAINST: Mayor Anthony Matranga and Randy Stricklind
Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.