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Pierce County Superior Court orders Pacific mayor to begin hiring process for city staff, police department
The Pierce County Superior Court has ordered Pacific Mayor Cy Sun to begin the process of hiring for eight vacant City staff positions, and lift the hiring freeze on the Pacific Police Department, or appear before the court on Monday to explain his refusal to do so.
An Alternative Writ of Mandate issued by the court last week also orders Sun to cooperate with an ongoing King County Sheriff's office investigation into whether he destroyed City documents, to cease and desist any retaliation or hostile behavior toward City employees and immediately provide required oversight and management of funded-City construction projects.
The City turned to the court last week, petitioning for the mandate to put an end to the ongoing crisis in Pacific that has caused the departure of all of the City's department heads and the impending cancellation of the City's insurance policy at the end of the year.
According to the petition, filed by City Attorney Kenyon Luce and signed by City Council President Leanne Guier, "Since taking office as the Mayor of the City of Pacific in January 2012, (Sun) has neglected his mandatory duties in ways that have had a devastating effect upon the city, its personnel, and its ability to conduct business and provide services to the city."
The petition blames Sun for the vacant positions at City Hall – which include police chief (also known as the public safety director), finance director, public works director, city planner, city engineer and building inspector.
"Since taking office Jan. 3, 2012, nine employees have resigned, quit or been terminated because of or by (Sun)," the writ states. "In most instances (Sun) has failed to take the necessary and proper steps to hire replacements for these positions."
By forcing Sun to begin the hiring process for the vacant positions, the City hopes to stave off cancellation of its insurance.
In a letter sent to Sun from Cities Insurance Association of Washington Chairman Wes Drago on July 2, the CIAW threatened to cancel the City's insurance if "swift, concrete and verifiable deeds to bring a more stable and professional environment to the City of Pacific" were not made.
Additionally, the writ would provide relief for the Pacific Police Department, which has been unable to hire for vacant positions, by lifting the hiring freeze Sun instituted.
Since taking office in January, Sun has decimated the department by firing former Chief John Calkins and attempting to fire four officers who were involved in his arrest for trying to enter a locked city clerk's office.
All four officers involved in the arrest continued to work, although one has reportedly accepted a position with a neighboring police department and two others are actively looking to get out of Pacific.
That leaves the department without two patrol officers, a chief and an evidence technician.
According to Lt. Edwin Massey, the department's ranking officer, the effect on the force's ability to do its job has been "tremendous."
"When I have officers that go on vacation, that take leave or have to take care of their families in emergency situations, I have to bring other officers in," he said. "But if I don't have them I can't bring them in. I have to find officers that are willing, or have to be ordered to come in and work overtime."
As a result overtime hours have ballooned, according to the department. Between July 1 and Aug. 31, 2011, the department logged 84 hours of overtime. For the same time period this year, the hours jumped to 353.5.
Sun declined to comment for this story, but has reportedly allowed the department to begin the process of hiring a patrol officer and an evidence technician.
If Sun does not comply with the other requirements in the writ, he must appear before the Pierce County Superior Court and explain why. If the court finds his reasons to not comply insufficient, it will issue a Peremptory Writ of Mandate. If Sun continues to refuse to comply, he can then be fined and jailed.