No basis of fact in bribe claim
One of my biggest pet peeves in this job is when someone spouts off about a local issue but doesn’t have the courage to put their name to it.
For instance, there’s the person who created the phony Facebook identity so they could make accusations about our police chief without having their identity known.
Or, there’s the anonymous Letters to the Editor I get from time to time attacking me personally for something I may have written or perhaps not written. (Just so you know, one of the first things I do when I get one of those letters is to see if it’s signed. Those authors will be disappointed to know their efforts were wasted because once I see it’s unsigned, it goes right to the trash!)
I’ve learned over the years not to put any stock in such letters because they do little to contribute to a reasonable, rational discussion to work towards solutions to solve the issues at hand. Those people delight in tearing down, not building up.
Back to the police chief issue. Things have been quiet on the local front for awhile but that doesn’t mean there are not still people out there who want his head on a platter. That brings me back to where I started.
Last week, I got a call from my colleague who publishes the paper in Ogallala. Instead of a letter, he got one of those anonymous calls from Imperial telling him about a big juicy story he might be interested in since the Imperial paper would never do anything on it.
It just so happened it was about the $80,000 bribe the police chief had supposedly taken—big news in his mind.
It’s not because we weren’t aware of the allegation that there hasn’t been a story. It was because we’d already investigated the claim and found it to be baseless.
So let’s talk about the circumstances behind the allegation. The matter in question is a second mortgage held by the city administrator on the police chief’s home. Apparently, when the police chief and his wife purchased their home, they needed some extra financing to make that happen.
As a friend of the police chief, the city administrator and her husband offered to loan them the money personally and secure that loan by filing a second mortgage on the home. Is that a bribe?
I have questioned the city administrator directly about the loan. She said they have helped others out in a similar manner and chose to do so in this instance. She never dreamed this would end up being used against her and the police chief.
I contacted the director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission about the situation. What I learned is there are no rules that prohibit one public official from making a loan to another public official in good faith.
If an actual bribe occurred, he noted that would be a criminal act that needs to be brought to the attention of the county attorney or Attorney General’s office.
I have an open door policy at my office and am happy to discuss issues with anyone. And even if we disagree, I still respect you as a person.
What I can’t respect is when someone goes behind my back without ever having spoken to me about the issue. I might add that whoever called the Ogallala paper never darkened my door to discuss the situation.
This newspaper deals in facts. It’s a fact the city administrator and her husband hold a second mortgage on the police chief’s home. It’s also a fact there’s nothing on the books that prohibits them from doing so.
Unfortunately, facts never stand in the way when someone’s hellbent on accomplishing their agenda. The people behind this conspiracy to oust the police chief are resorting to do whatever it takes to damage his credibility and reputation. This newspaper is not going to be a party to that effort.