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Voice: Johnson's actions regarding police chief are sour grapes

November 19, 2001

I have been following the controversy regarding the police chief police position in Brawley.

In reading the articles, editorial and letters in this paper, and in talking to people in the community and police officers, it is my conclusion that advertising for the chief position is a gross mistake by City Manager Jerry Santillan, Mayor Wayne Johnson and some members of the Brawley City Council.

Mayor Johnson was a policeman in Brawley and chose to retire. Now as a City Council member he has stated he would not support Graham as police chief because he "doesn't like the way Graham operates." Graham is a taskmaster and has high expectations for his officers and they respect him for this.

I'm thankful for this and would expect Johnson, Santillan, and all council members to be also. Graham and Kuhn have a venerable reputation for leading the department and Graham is responsible for writing grants that have added and/or augmented existing personnel and services to guarantee the safety of citizens. All this has me wondering if Johnson's departure from the department is a result of his not being able to "step up to the plate" in the performance of the job.


Mayor Johnson, you can read this and shake your head "no" all you want, but you've told too many people of your intent to replace the department leadership for reasons that are personal and vindictive. In grasping for straws, you lay blame for last year's breakdown in contract negotiations with the police association on Graham and Kuhn and the dual chief position and have actually misled another City Council member to publicly support this claim.

It's no wonder your election to the City Council was not endorsed by any public safety organization in town. Those you worked with know how you did or did not perform your job as a police officer. It appalls me that council members I voted for (not you, of course) could be duped into supporting the spiteful actions of an ignorant one or few.

If some of you council members do not support advertising for a chief and you are in a majority, why haven't you put a stop to this before now? It's been said "ignorance gives a sort of eternity to prejudice and perpetuity to error." How long are you, the City Council, going to allow the mayor to continue his malevolent prejudice toward Chief Graham and perpetuate the error of advertising for a position that is not vacant and therefore, really not available?

Possibly replacing the existing leadership is an outcome that could disrupt a department that is already applauded for how it is administered. You can stop this! Simply cancel the advertisement and apologize to those who may have already applied for wasting their time.

If there's anybody out there who thinks a recall of Mayor Johnson is in order, I'll sign your petition and get my extended circle of family and friends to sign it. Johnson's proposals and direction are not good for Brawley or its citizens.

This paper's editorial questioned whether Wayne Johnson's actions regarding advertising for the chief position were a result of "sour grapes" from his tenure in the Police Department. As has been evident from the numerous letters to this paper from people who support the department leadership, people who had to deal with Johnson when he was a police officer and policemen who have worked with Johnson, it is clear "sour grapes" definitely support his actions.

All that has been written decries Johnson's malicious statements and actions, and as a citizen of Brawley I beseech my other City Council members not to get sucked up in this whirlpool of ignorance generated by Mayor Johnson.



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