Bradshaw cites ‘definite pattern’ in marshal’s office departures
By Ann McCreary
A longtime Winthrop business owner told Town Council members last week that he was concerned about what he described as a “yo-yo effect” in employment in the town marshal’s office.
“I shake my head every time I see someone come and go,” said Bart Bradshaw, owner of Pardner’s Mini Market and Bart Bradshaw CPA. Bradshaw said he was upset by the recent resignation of Ken Bajema, who was the town’s acting marshal and the only police officer.
Bradshaw said he had gotten to know Bajema personally and professionally, and said Bajema’s “thorough and meticulous” police work was instrumental in obtaining a felony conviction in a case involving one of Bradshaw’s employees.
Bradshaw said he has been told that the council and mayor “micromanaged” the marshal’s office and argued with Bajema about individual expenditures, including the purchase of snow tires for a town police vehicle.
“I’m disappointed that Ken is leaving over what I see as micromanagement,” Bradshaw said. “As a business owner, I want a police department that is happy here and will stay.”
Bradshaw said that as a former member of the Methow Valley School District board of directors, “I learned that when you hire people you let them do their job.”
Bajema is the third officer to leave the Winthrop marshal’s office this year, leaving the town without a police force.
“I don’t know if you need a little self-examination,” Bradshaw told the council and mayor. “This is a definite pattern. This is something you need to stop.”
Council members heatedly denied any allegations of micromanagement.
“The state law is that the council has to approve every expenditure,” said council member Gayle Bryant-Cannon. “I don’t understand where all this anger is coming from.”
“I was shocked to read that article in the paper,” she said, referring to a “My Turn” article by Bajema that appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of the Methow Valley News and criticized town officials’ management of its police department and officers.
“He came to our budget meeting. We bent over backwards to give him everything he wanted,” Bryant-Cannon said.
“I wouldn’t say we gave him everything he wanted,” said council member Mike Strulic, adding that Bajema “might have misconstrued” the actions of town officials.
“This isn’t just Ken. This is oversight beyond oversight that is needed,” Bradshaw said.
“Let’s get on board with a more positive camaraderie” with town police officers, Bradshaw urged, just before Mayor Sue Langdalen abruptly halted the conversation.
“This discussion is over,” Langdalen said.
Earlier in the evening, town council member Jessica Sheehan said the town had received four applications for two marshal’s office positions being advertised.