Opinion: Suggestions for picking a police chief and the U.S. should stay out of the Ukraine-Russian war


Daily Post Editor

Palo Alto is beginning the search for a new police chief to replace Robert Jonsen, who is retiring. Let me offer five suggestions about how to pick the right candidate.

1. Name the finalists. Tell the candidates when they apply that the top three will have their names released to the commu- nity, and that they’ll have to meet with the public before the selection is made. The used this process in 1997 when they hired Don Phillips and East Palo Alto introduced to the public the three finalists for police chief in 2015 before hiring Al Pardini. In both cases, the public got to meet and scrutinize the candidates before a decision was made. Members of the public might find things in a candidate’s past that a recruiting firm or city manager could miss.

2. Transparency matters. Look for a candidate with a record of transparency. Transparency is a byproduct of honesty. In the past year and a half, Jonsen has encrypted the police radios, prohibited reporters from calling watch commanders to find out more about police reports and, in January, reduced the number of police blotter items for the public to see. A Palo Alto police agent commanded his dog to at- tack an innocent man, a victim of mistaken identity, and police kept it under wraps for months. Any candidate who thinks this kind of record is appropriate should be dropped immediately. The community should be seeking an improvement in the department, not a continuation of the status quo.

3. Recruiters have conflicts. Don’t rely on a recruiting firm to vet the candidates because these firms often have a conflict of interest. They represent cities seeking candidates and candidates seeking jobs. A candidate who has hired one of these firms might get preference by the headhunter when it comes to recommending finalists to the city. If the city is going to use a headhunting firm that represents job candidates, the city should ask which candidates are represented by that firm.

4. Do a deep drive. Have the candidates sign waivers to allow the city to obtain the candidate’s personnel records. Job recommendation letters aren’t enough. Have you ever seen a recommendation letter that wasn’t positive? Of course not. So you have to go deeper. A candidate with a good record shouldn’t have anything to hide, and would happily sign such a waiver.

5. Check their tattoos. Often, people sympathetic to white supremacy organizations will have a tell-tale tattoo. Maybe it’s something obvious like the words “White Pride” or perhaps it’s a confederate flag. It could be a Celtic Cross and words in the runic alphabet. You need to check for such tattoos because job candidates often lie during interviews, and won’t admit an affiliation with such groups. Have the candidate disrobe in a private room to be checked by a city employee for tattoos from top to bottom. If the city attorney says such a body check would violate a law, make it voluntary. The ones who refuse are the ones you should suspect aren’t being forthright.

• • •

It’s not our war

The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is getting saturation coverage in the newspapers and on TV. It’s tempting to think it’s our war, but it isn’t.

Russia didn’t attack us. We don’t share a border with Ukraine. We don’t have a military base there. Ukraine is not a major trade partner.

In short, this war doesn’t involve America. Sure, there are Americans with relatives in both countries, but that’s true of all foreign wars.

The U.S. should stay out of this fight. President Biden is right about that. He needs to stand firm on that promise.

We’ve just ended a 20-year war in Afghanistan with nothing to show for it except a disastrous withdrawal.

We should also be careful about going too far with sanctions. For instance, banning Russian oil will have a greater impact on the U.S. economy than Russia. Vladimir Putin has been living with sanctions for more than 20 years and has attempted to make his country sanction-proof. He can sell the oil we won’t buy to China. And if we stop buying Russian oil, we’ll see sharp increases in gas prices, which may plunge our fragile economy into a recession.

Yes, it’s a shame that we’re no longer energy independent, but that’s a topic for a different column. Let’s deal with the situation we’re in right now. Even if the administration were to reverse its positions on drilling and pipelines, it would take about a year before we’d see any relief at the gas pump.

Gas prices are already going up based on speculation about the loss of Russian oil. That means higher prices for every American who needs their car for work, particularly the poor and middle class.

We should support the Ukrainians with humanitarian and military aide. But not at the expense of American families, who are now digging their way out of the economic recession of the past two years.

High gas prices might not matter much to the Tesla drivers, but America still runs on oil. Even if windmills and Chinese-made solar panels could replace fossil fuels, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. And when oil prices go up, so too does everything else in the economy. Trucks bring every product to the supermarket. So when fuel prices go up, so too does meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

This isn’t our war. There’s no need to put our troops at risk. We don’t want sanctions that will hurt our economy.

Don’t listen to those who are trying to goad America into another war. That’s just the military-industrial-media complex talking. It’s easier to get into a war than to get out.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email is [email protected].


  1. Yes, we should stay out of the war for all the reasons you mentioned. It’s none of our business. Also, Ukraine government is no angel. Far from it. Zelensky, including his predecessor who was installed in a coup which we orchestrated, is a puppet of the globalist elites and hardly popular among his own people. However, I disagree that we should help with military aide unless we do the same for Russia – to maintain neutrality.

    On the police chief hiring suggestions, I dissent. Disclosure of personnel records is intrusive and may include statements that are confusing or untrue. Checking for racist tattoos, really? You completely lost me on that one. I also disagree about looking far into anyone’s past as we witnessed the Justice Kavanaugh spectacle of high school yearbooks and allegations from 35 years ago. The past 5-10 years is fine. Going as far back to high school is ludicrous.

    • Alvin, you’ve never hired anyone for an important job. Of course you look into their past. But you try to find out what happened, and that includes talking to the applicant.

  2. But USA is a voluntary member of NATO and wants other countries to be members of NATO as well – so it has certain obligations …

  3. Stunning ignorance on Ukraine. They are a indeed a major trade partner. Wheat, corn, potatoes, and many, many other staples are grown there. Take their production out of the world market and we get hurt. That’s why the price of goods from there have doubled since last year — so there will be more price increases coming on top of the ones we’ve already had including fuel. It’s also a major source of programming for various tech projects. Just look at EPAM’s stock since the war broke out.

    The Russian military is bogged down in the mud and having logistical issues with food and fuel. They need to be hit and hit now — otherwise Putin and his equally despicable tag team partner China will be further emboldened for future moves against Eastern Europe and Taiwan.

    Sadly, our incompetent president and is decades long career of being wrong on every aspect of foreign policy is relying on the weak and cowardly Obama for advice. The same Obama who was more than happy to jump into bed with the Iranians to appease them. Same with Cuba. Now Iran’s closer to nuclear weapons than ever. And Cuba’s still imprisoning those who don’t dance to the Communists tune.

    The midterms can’t get here fast enough. The Biden administration is an absolute disaster foisted upon the American people by Silicon Valley money and an American press willing to push an agenda that does not work down everybody’s throats.

    So glad I left the insanity of the Bay Area.

    • Mitch Conner says, “Stunning ignorance on Ukraine. They are a indeed a major trade partner.”

      Mitch, you’re stunningly ignorant or are intentionally lying. The site census.gov doesn’t even place Ukraine in the top 30 countries importing goods into the U.S. Bigger trade partners include Belgium, the Netherlands, and the top four, China, Canada, Mexico and Japan.

      You’re also wrong about what Ukraine imports into the U.S. No. 1 is Pig Iron ($14 million)

  4. Mitch, I’m also glad you left the insanity of the Bay Area. But the pressing question remains: Why contribute comments or opinions in a Bay Area online newspaper if you no longer live in the insane Bay Area? Doesn’t the sane area you now currently reside not have a community newspaper of its own?

  5. It is tempting to say that Ukraine is not our problem, but as the lead up to WWII showed, the problem of an aggressive and expansive foreign regime can and will eventually become our problem, and be worse because we initially ignored it. When studying the pre-war years, many of us wondered why Hitler and Imperial Japan weren’t stopped earlier, when it would have been far less costly. Our current isolationist sentiments demonstrate why.

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