Seattle Police Officers Guild president Rich O'Neill has announced in the December issue of the SPOG newspaper, the Guardian, that he will not seek reelection. Citing the '60s pop song "Turn, Turn, Turn," he writes, "Like the song says there is a time for everything and the time for me to move on is now."
O'Neill, you may recall, has made more than $100,000 a year in his position as union president, a salary the city has attempted in the past to negotiate their way out of paying; they don't pay any other city employee union heads a full-time salary. And O'Neill has been a problem for the department in that he makes for pretty bad press on a pretty regular basis—complaining about the "media frenzy" after the shooting of John T. Williams or calling the DOJ investigation into our police department "flawed from the start."
As an anonymous city hall staffer once told us, "The city pays Rich O'Neill to be a total dick."
As for those salary negotiations, Mayor Mike McGinn's spokesman Robert Cruickshank says: "The City and SPOG are still in negotiation over the president’s salary. The City remains committed to obtaining 100% reimbursement for the SPOG President's salary."
In the meantime, the Guardian's not online, but here's just a bit of O'Neill's announcement:
In 1965 a group called The Byrds released a song that was taken almost exactly from the Bible. The song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" told us that "to everything there is a season and a time to every pupose under Heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to laugh and a time to weep." I found the lyrics to that old song very relevant as I sit down to write my column this month.
After much discernment and many hours of discussion with my family and others, I have decided not to seek re-election for a fourth term as your SPOG President... Three years ago we were in the middle of contract negotiations and it was not the right time for change. Many people asked me to stay on and I agreed. I am flattered this time that again many have asked me to keep going, but like the song says there is a time for everything and the time for me to move on is now. I am not quite ready to retire from SPD so I will spend the next three months working with the board and the newly elected president to ensure a smooth transition and then I will start my new assignment on March 1st.
He also says he'll stay on the SPOG board in the role of "past president" for a year.