Editorial: Speaking your mind shouldn’t cost you a job
It’s not often that a public official will take a firm stand that may land him in hot water.
However, that’s exactly what Prescott Valley’s Chief of Police Bryan Jarrell did this week.
The Daily Courier’s front page story today outlines Jarrell’s concern that all the election talk from council candidates of cutting taxes could become a bad fiscal reality for his department.
“It scares me when I hear people saying … ‘the tax rates are too high, we’ve got to roll them back,’ because then all of us are going to suffer greatly,” Jarrell said.
“The only way we can support town operations…is through the sales tax,” he said, noting that the town gets none of the property taxes collected — it all goes to Yavapai County.
It was refreshing to hear a public figure voice concern over what an election means to his department, even though Jarrell is now on the hot seat because of it.
At the Prescott Valley Town Council’s meeting this week, one member called for Jarrell’s resignation.
“In the state of Arizona, we have laws that prevent employees from trying to influence elections. We also have a town code that explicitly prohibits town employees from trying to influence the elections,” Councilmember Steve Marshall said. “This is very big. If something doesn’t happen, I’m going to drive to the attorney general’s office in Phoenix and I’m going to file a complaint myself.”
Talk about overreacting and grandstanding. The issue began with the concern of tax cutting and now a councilmember wants to spend taxpayer money to investigate an incident that has already been settled.
Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said, “There is a … violation of the town’s personnel rules and there’s been a disciplinary action.”
The Town Council deserves some of the blame for this even becoming an issue. They rushed through the sales tax increase in less than a month last October, pretty much ensuring it would stir up trouble. Taking more time to explain the need and educating citizens may have kept this from becoming a key campaign component in the first place.
As for Marshall’s claim that this is a case of trying to influence an election? Give that a rest, too. Jarrell said that he wasn’t campaigning “for or against any candidate. The only thing I am campaigning for is a safe community,” he said.
Prescott Valley, after years of bumpy roads, has a respectable police force, with a strong leader. The disgruntled councilmember should be proud of the department, not looking for vindictive (and costly) ways to punish someone who cares deeply about his community and his job.
Thank you, Chief Jarrell, for speaking your mind — and to town management for recognizing the need for a disciplinary action versus an overreaction.