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home : opinions : opinions August 1, 2014

7/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
TIMES EDITORIAL: Smith needs to retire and stay retired
Steve Smith
Steve Smith

While we've come to expect "leaders" at Blythe City Hall to look down their nose at the ignorant commoners that populate "their" city, the latest scheme to retire the chief of police and hire him back at an hourly wage to "save" the city money is so blatantly self-serving one would expect it from the Healthcare District Board.

Chief Steve Smith says he plans to retire, effective Aug. 1, and then hopes to return as an hourly employee, which means he'll collect his retirement paycheck as well as a city paycheck.

Smith told the Times that he wasn't going to get a raise until his officers get one, which is a noble thought, but our understanding is that Smith has been seeking a raise for himself for some time now.

This isn't the first time Smith has made a mockery of the police department and public he has sworn to protect. In October 2012, Smith resigned, referring to the city council in his resignation letter as "self-serving, oblivious and dysfunctional."

"Oblivious" proved to be a correct evaluation, because almost immediately after getting the letter insulting them, council members Wayne Cusick and Joey DeConinck begged Smith to stay on board what he had called "a sinking ship."

Mayor Oscar Galvan and Vice-mayor Sam Patel soon happily joined Cusick and DeConinck after Smith rescinded his letter, and the four gave Smith a standing ovation at a city council meeting.

Smith later clarified that he didn't intend his letter for the five council members but rather just one, Mike Evans, who has dared to question the chief and the rest of city management.

Smith has yet to explain why he wrote a letter that included all five when he meant just one.

So now the chief wants to collect his retirement and get a paycheck from the city at the same time because he doesn't make enough money.

Smith's current salary is $117,482 a year despite the city's maximum salary for police chief being $113,131. Smith also receives $10,577 in pension benefits and $15,069 in medical benefits.

Surely most of the working public in Blythe can understand and emphasize with the plight of someone who makes only $117,000 a year. We're all struggling to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, few of us are in a position to game the system the way Smith wants to, with a smile on his face and a tale of how he's going to save the city money. We're not buying it and neither should the public.

Smith's reign as police chief has been one of divisiveness and controversy. His "no one questions me" attitude, similar to City Manager Dave Lane's, has pushed the police department backward in the same direction Lane has steered the city.

Backed for so long by the Cusick-DeConinck brain trust, the city has accomplished little in recent years unless the rest of the council out-voted these two, which is happening more often as Galvan and Patel become more enlightened about Smith's and Lane's true natures that show heavily in this latest ploy.

The taxpayers have suffered most while these two have lorded over Blythe. To expect city residents to stand up and applaud this "brilliant" idea to retire and collect two checks shows just how out of touch Smith and Lane are with the people who pay the bills.

The best thing now is for an enlightened council majority - even if it's just three votes - to accept Smith's retirement and send him packing once and for all.

And while the council is at it, it should give Lane his walking papers, too, and look for leaders with a vision for the community, not just their own wallets.

The position expressed is that of the Palo Verde Valley Times.

Related Stories:
• City council to decide to accept Chief Smith's retirement
• Police Chief Steve Smith un-retires - again - pulls papers to run for city council
• Martinez graduates with Master's
• Smith puts in for retirement - then asks to work hourly

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Palermo

If the PERS realignment that Governor Brown signed into law has taken effect, January of 2013? Then Chief Smith could work only 960 hours in a 12 month period. There seems to also be a requirement that retirees could not work as a contractor to a PERS agency for six months after retirement, 12 months if the individual was on unemployment. The question is, could Smith do as good a job working an average of 18 hours per week? I would think you would need a full time Chief. Is the Police force NOT a CalPERS retirement system agency?

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: To Just Me

Maybe we can put on the election ballot for a new hospital board, I'm sure the good doctor would put two of the PVH board members to be replaced. That would make his day!

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@ Just me. They might not read the Blogs, but they have friends and family that do. They might not show it in public, but at home alone they throw a tantrum. It's human nature, to want to know what people think about you. Just like people wonder how many, and who will show up in their funeral.

Deep down they are human with human needs. But their need for power and money supersedes the needs of the people of this community. So in the end they just become puppets of the money machine.

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: just @valley native

You can be assured Oscar has got my vote..I wii stand behind him...Joey has been very good to the community in other way's ...but he is not good as a council member...Wayne hasn't shown to much of a intrest in the community either....

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: just me@El Pica Buyus

I almost wonder any more if Blythe is still considered a part of the U.S.A. All these high ranked official's make our decisions forcing us to (deleted) and pay taxes and wear a happy face....Like you say there will be another election...Idon't think they read the blogs..They don't wan't to know how the community feels...

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: Valley Native

This editorial is an awesome well written summation of the last five years of Smiths reign of terror. But don't be too hard on Oscar and Sam, they have come around and seem to see the light. Oscar and Sam are trying to do whats right and need to be re-elected in Nov. The main goal at this time is to ensure Deconinck does not get re-elected in Nov. and the same goes for Cusick when his term is up. Deconinck and Cusick clearly vote along the lines of special interests as dictated by Lane. City Council PLEASE send Smith and Lane packing...whatever it costs we will be better off eventually.

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

Gee, doesn't Lane have some relationship with Desert Air? Birds of a feather....

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

Gee, doesn't Lane have some relationship with Desert Air? Birds of a feather....

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Garry Bolding

Hire back some of us that didn't get the choice of voluntary retirement. Move one of the current officers up to chief, then hire 2 people for public works. The parks can use the water.

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@ Just me. True but sad. So lets take this coming election to voice our complaints by using the voting system. Move them out get them out, rawhide. Just like that song.

So will blythe ever be able to elect other people like Mr. Evans? Not tooting his horn, but someone that is not afraid to voice his opinion, displeasure, and ideas.

So in passing, I believe it's time to thin the herd and put those, that need be put to pasture let them retire without further ado.

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: just me

We the community can be againest the city council and their decisions...But remember we are nothing, are complaints are more than likely laughed at...The council has the say so over the matter here and you can bet the chief will get what he want's just like the doc does at the hospital ....Sad but true...

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Dan Public

Get rid of this self serving (deleted) and cut his retirement. Give this job to an officer already in the department. Times are hard. Cut the salary. You could have a new chief and hire another officer.

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