Marie Yates: “Qualified” for what?
Posted by Arroyoribera on October 17, 2007
(adapted from the longer post Citizen Review Commission is NOT the answer to independent oversight)
Eighty-three year old Marie Yates serves on the Citizens Review Commission as the so-called “qualified” member of the Police Lieutenants and Captains Association. On the Police Advisory Committee she represents Lincoln Heights/COPS Southeast. For many years, she has played a very prominent and not always productive role in police-civilian relations in the Spokane area.
It was Yates who in September 2006 publicly declared Bob DeMotte an “ass”. At the time of Yates outburst, DeMotte had just presented to the Civilian Review Commission the first case brought before it in more than a decade. Yates also questioned the legitimacy of DeMotte even being involved in the matter, calling him “someone from California”, despite his three years living in Spokane.
Under consideration by the Commission that September night was the matter of Lt. Judi Carl’s involvement in a scene involving her children and other teens out late at night in a crime-ridden Northside neighborhood. At issue in that case are the use of vulgarities by Carl and issues of favoritism. As a result of the incident, Lt. Carl had been suspended from duty for one day by acting chief Jim Nicks during the summer of 2006 for what is know as “conduct unbecoming“. Chief Kirkpatrick, three weeks after her hiring as Spokane Police Chief, chose that case to send to the Citizen Review Commission for review.
Think about this.
Yates was being called upon to render a judgment on the use of vulgarities by a Spokane Police officer. And what does she do? She calls the complaining citizen “an ass”.
In their extensive and thorough June 25, 2006 article “Police Oversight on Trial” about the history and failures of police oversight in Spokane, Bill Morlin and Jody Lawrence-Turner of the Spokesman-Review wrote of Yates and her consistently pro-police stance:
(quote) Marie Yates, 83, was one of Mangan‘s original appointees. A police ally and volunteer at the COPS Southeast office who once helped purchase a police dog for the force, Yates said she was embarrassed to be on Barnard’s panel “because it had too many members who were critical of the police.”
The next chief, Bragdon, reappointed her to the slot representing police captains and lieutenants. Yates still serves on the current commission. (end quote)
Yates has been deeply involved in police matters for years, serving simultaneously on both the Citizen Review Commission and the Police Advisory Committee as well as having been a COPS volunteer for nearly 12 years. As a current member of the CRC Yates would be called upon to render judgment on matters of police conduct. Yet as a current member also of the Police Advisory Committee she advises and assists the police.
As if all this is not enough, Yates represents the Police Lieutenants and Captains Association. As the article by Morlin and Lawrence-Turner points out, it was the Police Lieutenants and Captains Association which filed a labor relations action against the city and forced the dissolution in 1995 of the first Citizens Advisory Commission in Spokane.
Perhaps all this is indication that Yates is no longer (and perhaps never was) “qualified”.
Nevertheless, disappointingly and troubling, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously on August 10, 2007, to give Yates another year on the Citizens Review Commission. According to the minutes of that Spokane City Council meeting as published in the August 23, 2007 edition of the Official Gazette of the City of Spokane (vol. 96, no. 34):
(quote) Motion by Council Member Verner, seconded by Council Member McLaughlin, to confirm the Mayor’s re-appointments of Ms. Marie Yates, Police Lieutenants and Captains Representative, with her term to begin immediately and end March 31, 2008, and Mr. Robert Byrne, Police Guild Representative, with his term to begin immediately and end December 31, 2010. Motion carried unanimously. (end quote)
Most problematic and disturbing is that the City Council reappointed Yates despite the clear recommendation ten months earlier in police consultant Mike Worley’s $8800 tax-payer paid report that “the representation of the Police Department labor groups on the Citizens Review Commission should be eliminated.” In fact, despite Worley’s high-priced recommendations, the City Council also voted to re-codify the ordinance on the membership of the commission on March 6, 2007, setting the stage for the re-appointments of Yates and Byrne.
I am not the first person to question how “qualified” Yates is at this point. A year ago Yates’ appropriateness was called into question by Frank Sennett who asked in his Hard7 blog, “How professional and unbiased is our highly regarded Citizens Review Commission when it comes to handling complaints of police misconduct?” Yates had previously offered this self assessment to the Spokesman-Review in responding to the criticism of her calling DeMotte an “ass”: “I have a lot of regard for the police, but I’m fair.” To which Sennett responded, “Yes, as fair and unbiased as Fox News…”
Among other things, the citizens and government of Spokane now face a $1 million law suit as a result of Yates actions in the Carl matter. (The City of Spokane could purchase a lot of police dogs for $1 million, Marie.)
More important is how an individual like Yates — who is a representative of a police association, who defends the police in her speech and conduct, who worked for years with the police as a volunteer, and who denigrates citizens who dare to question the actions of the police — can be considered an appropriate member of a Citizens Review Commission which exists nominally to hold the police accountable in their relationship with the public. Clearly Yates is incapable of seeing the part of the citizenry in matters involving the Spokane Police.
Please join me at the next City Council meeting on Monday, October 22, 2007 at 6 PM to object to the Council’s re-codification of the ordinance on the composition of the Citizens Review Commission as well as its unanimous reappointment of Marie Yates to the Citizens Review Commission. Remember that citizens must arrive at 6 PM to sign up to speak and then must wait until the very end of the meetings of their City Council for an opportunity to speak for three minutes — a time limit strictly and rather brutally enforced by Council President Joe Shogun in his inimitable style. Be aware that council meetings often run extremely long when, for example, city attorneys are promoting the interests of corporations and developers as happened the night the council passed the Kendall Yard TIF (Tax Increment Financing). So be prepared to remain possibly even for several hours until the meeting ends for your opportunity to speak. Realize even then that those three minutes of democracy can be reduced to one minute by executive fiat of Shogun, as happened on July 9, 2007, to a long line of individuals speaking about the SPD attack on 4th of July protesters in Riverfront Park.