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Police Chief Agrees to Serve in Interim Post

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Police Chief James E. Anthony, who last month announced his intention to resign Sept. 1, has agreed to stay on until a replacement is found, but not beyond Nov. 30, authorities said Friday.

Heeding City Manager David H. Ramsay’s request to provide “continuity,” Anthony, 54, agreed to serve as interim chief on a contract basis after his retirement Sept. 1. But Ramsay said Anthony intends to take up his new career as a consultant after Nov. 30.

“He has a real sense of loyalty to the community,” the city manager said of Anthony, who could not be reached Friday for comment. “He wanted the transition to be smooth, so he put his other plans on hold for a few months.”

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Based on Anthony’s $127,000 annual salary, his monthly contract fee would be about $10,583, according to the agreement he reached with the city.

City Councilmen Sheldon S. Baker and Dave Weaver expressed support Friday for the agreement, but a third council member called it “outrageous,” particularly at a time when the city is struggling to close a $6.1-million budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. In Tuesday’s budget study session, the five council members deliberated over budget items as small as $100 in an effort to cut expenses.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said of Anthony’s contract. “I think it’s unfair to the taxpayers . . . for him to get his retirement benefits and his consultant’s pay. If he’s going to retire, and get his benefits, why should the taxpayers pay him double?”

Baker, however, said that basing Anthony’s contract payments on his “current compensation . . . makes sense.” Of the pension benefits, he added: “If you’ve earned something, you’ve earned something.”

An alternative to Anthony’s contract, Weaver noted, would have been to elevate one of the department’s four captains to interim chief, but he said continuity would be compromised.

“The troops would be getting used to a new [interim] chief and then they’d be having another one, the new chief, finally coming in,” Weaver said. “With [Anthony] staying on, it’s less of a problem.”

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Anthony can help the city “stay the course” as it takes on a controversial project that involves his department, the proposed $28-million police complex, Ramsay said.

Ramsay, whose choice for chief must be ratified by the council, said he plans to hire an executive recruiting firm to help pick candidates for the job, as was done when he chose Anthony more than five years ago. No one has inquired about the job so far, but that is not unusual at this early date, Ramsay said.

The selection process could take three to four months, he said.

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